be careful what you wish for

In the last few months I’ve gone all James 4:8, constantly asking for God to draw our family near to Him.  There’s something poetic about the word draw in this context – a gentle pull closer, hand-over-hand on a rope bringing the boat closer to the safety of the shore.  But that’s a bit of a naïve image to keep in God’s economy, because the focus is more on the hands or the rope and not on the surrender of the boat to go whatever direction it’s being pulled to.

Be careful what you wish for.

Christine Caine warned once about singing songs like Hillsong’s Oceans:

Spirit lead me where my trust is without borders
Let me walk upon the waters
Wherever You would call me
Take me deeper than my feet could ever wander
And my faith will be made stronger
In the presence of my Savior

By the time we reach that part of the song, we’re floating in passionate worship, unaware that we are placing an order from the Holy Spirit, inviting Him to take us deep, to press us, to lead us to a place where there is nothing to lean on but God Himself.  Are you ready for that?  Can you handle that?  Really?

I blindly committed this prayer to Him over and over and then one day a couple of months ago, he started drawing.  Subtly, we started sensing a falling away of relationships and systems we relied on.  I felt that we were starting to get misunderstood, judged and left alone.  What was more difficult was that this went beyond my own experience – this was happening to my children too.  I prayed this prayer for us, not just me.  It’s no secret that managing your children’s suffering is much more carnal than dealing with your own.  I began angrily grieving a loss of their innocence, forgetting that my husband and I had both waded through life-shaping waters much more turbulent than this by their age.

I didn’t clue in until a few days ago.  

Following Him means putting Him first before family (in the various contexts of community that could mean), so if I’m asking to get closer to Him, he’s going to bring me places where I will learn that He is my best and only option.

It was noteworthy enough that Jesus’ brothers not believing in Him appears in the Gospel (John 7:5).  Not everyone will understand or agree or let those feelings manifest the way I would prefer.  My response to a lack of empathy, as unwilling as I can be to dig for it, must be, well, empathy.

Lastly, suffering is what perfected Jesus’ earthly ministry (1 Peter 4:1-2,12-19) and if we are trying to become little Christs, we need to learn to process our sufferings, big and small, in a way that respects His purpose for them.

I got it.  And then a funny thing happened.  He reintroduced what He seemingly held back until I understood, keeping it in an imperfect light (by my fleshly standards) that reminds me that He must still be my No. 1.

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Might God be answering one of your prayers in a way you didn't expect?