"He is no fool who gives up what he cannot keep to gain that which he cannot lose." ~Jim Elliot

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Wednesday, July 24, 2013

"I Will Not Go Unless..."

What is your favorite story from the Bible? Of all things, it is this question that has stumped me for a long time. I can give my opinion about election and the doctrines of grace, I can talk about cessationism/continuationism, and I can go on and on about free will vs. God's will. Covenantal theology? That's getting harder. Eschatology? Okay, I'm lost.

Those are all dogmatic in nature. That's great - I can deal with apologia. But for the longest time I haven't even been able to choose a preference when it comes to Bible stories. So let me think, here. Ehud has to be one of the funniest for sure. Jesus dying on the cross is the Sunday school answer. Uh, I like parables...

All of that nonsense changed this week when a certain story came to mind. (Good riddance! It's a shame for a person not to have a favorite Bible story!)

Since I have been here, I have prayed significantly more than I was praying in Indiana. It has been one of my spiritual focal points. As I said in an earlier post, not having a job is a blessing in disguise; this is one of the reasons why. Not using prayer is perhaps the stupidest thing I have done in my life. It's not just a front-row seat to see the God of the universe - it's a backstage pass. And we can use it all day and all night.

And don't we all have much to use it for? People, in case you haven't noticed, life is hard. The world is a dangerous place. People get hit by cars (as one of our church members did this week). We're called to share the greatest message in the world with people who may reject us, and that's scary (a few different friends and I are experiencing this fear). There are wildfires that kill (19 Prescott hotshots died the day before I came to Arizona). People get cancer (friend's aunt). I don't know that there has been a day that I've watched the Phoenix news and didn't hear of a shooting or some other form of homicide.

A lack of prayer says, "I don't care about people who have cancer. Fires are bad, but we'll get over it. Yeah, people die. But people are dying every day. I know I'm supposed to make disciples, but I'm really not that bad of a Christian and evangelism is awkward, so I'll just try not to think about it."

And even worse: "I can handle it on my own."

Believers who care about important things in life are those who see that life is not right. Those who want to kill their sin will get serious about it. True Christians will spread their faith, and they will even suffer for it. That's the way life works. All of these things are impossible for me. So I will turn to another impossibility: I'm going to wrestle with God. And limb gone or socket dislocated, I will not go unless He blesses me.

Genesis 32:24-32
Then Jacob was left alone, and a man wrestled with him until daybreak. When he saw that he had not prevailed against him, he touched the socket of his thigh; so the socket of Jacob’s thigh was dislocated while he wrestled with him. Then he said, “Let me go, for the dawn is breaking.” But he said, “I will not let you go unless you bless me.” So he said to him, “What is your name?” And he said, “Jacob.” He said, “Your name shall no longer be Jacob, but Israel; for you have striven with God and with men and have prevailed.” Then Jacob asked him and said, “Please tell me your name.” But he said, “Why is it that you ask my name?” And he blessed him there. So Jacob named the place Peniel, for he said, “I have seen God face to face, yet my life has been preserved.” Now the sun rose upon him just as he crossed over Penuel, and he was limping on his thigh. Therefore, to this day the sons of Israel do not eat the sinew of the hip which is on the socket of the thigh, because he touched the socket of Jacob’s thigh in the sinew of the hip.

1 John 5:14-15
This is the confidence which we have before Him, that, if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. And if we know that He hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests which we have asked from Him.

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