Shameless Audacity: My Need in Others
It's Monday! And that means another dose of "Shameless Audacity", brought to us by my friend, Cory Page. If this is your first time on the blog get caught up with the first few chapters:
This is a book of self discovery. I hope (and by hope I mean pray) that you are discovering the amazing potential of prayer along with me, but this book is about me. After writing the last chapter, Ask, Just Ask, I began praying that God would show me my need. In the past, I struggled to allow my wife into my prayer life because she is a prayer warrior. This time, I checked my pride at the door and asked her to pray this prayer alongside me. Now, it was not just a poor pray-er begging God to show me my need. I had a heavyweight in my corner. The haunting idea of seeking God with a shameless audacity led me to the end of my already frazzled rope. God would move in this request or I would put prayer on the shelf and forget about it. (As I sit in this small café, looking at the words in that last sentence, I’m amazed at the irony of it all. While hoping for a way to seek God with a shameless audacity, I sought Him with a shameless audacity!)
If you were wondering where someone learns that God has all the answers, it is in prayer. Bible reading makes us certain that God has ideas, but prayer is the place that those ideas become answers. If four years of seminary and 10 years of ministry have done anything, they taught me that God is omniscient. Part of my mind understands that, but I still found myself surprised when God supplied answers.
As I prayed to God, “Show me my need,” and Jessica prayed the same, God shot out of the gate like a rabid racehorse. It is as if He was waiting on me to ask. It is as if the words He spoke in Luke 11 were true: “Ask and it shall be given, seek and you shall find, knock and the door will be opened.” Imagine that! I suddenly found myself with so many needs that I was overwhelmed. In this process, I learned a few things.
My needs reside in other peoples’ needs. I am in a ministry that I love, but that does not fill my desire for traditional ministry. My focus was inward. Some might say my focus was selfish. I prayed for a need and sat on that proverbial perch, watching for something to happen in myself. That did happen, but not at first.
An odd story in the life of Christ comes to mind. In Mark 8, Jesus receives a blind man. Instead of the usual “You are Healed” approach, Jesus rubs spit on the man’s eyes. Jesus asked, “What do you see?” The man replied, “I see people, and they look like trees walking around.” Once again, Jesus touches the man’s eyes and he is healed. I have heard many a preacher wax eloquent on this passage and claim to have some deep spiritual secret. I haven’t. It just reminds me of myself. I prayed to God for help. For a while, I saw something, but it was blurry.
Finally, it all came into focus. Now, I look around and only see needs! If I had to venture a guess, I would say there is no deeper spiritual meaning and that Jesus knew that instant sight would overwhelm someone that had gone so long without sight. Jesus knew that the blind man would feel as over stimulated as I feel now.
My needs reside in the needs of others. I have a primary purpose. It is not to husband, father, or even preach to the greatest congregations. These are all very, very important. Do not think for a moment that these are not highly important to God. However, at the very heart of me, I am called to invite Truth into the world. This is the bedrock of the purpose of every believer. We may be asked to wear hundreds of different hats in this life. While the hats may change, the person wearing the hat is a citizen of heaven and an ambassador for Christ. When I read 2 Corinthians 5:17-20, I see these words:
“If any man be in Christ, he is an entirely new creation: the old things are passed away; behold, all things are made new. And all (these) things are of God, Who brought us back together with Him by (the work of) Jesus Christ, and has given the ministry of bringing (the lost) back to God to us; We know that God was in Christ, rejoining the world unto Himself, not counting their trespasses against them; and has committed unto us the (same) word of reconciliation. Now then we are ambassadors (representatives) for Christ...”
I prayed for God to help me identify my hats, prioritize my hats, and even give me new hats. God wanted me to forget the hats and focus on the nature of the hat rack. Before God would entertain my questions about my life plan, He thrust upon me the needs of others.
I had a leisurely dinner with a dear friend of mine. Everything seemed normal. As we walked to their car, they opened up about some serious issues in their marriage. As it happened, their issues were things that God has made me passionate about. Boom! Need.
I visited with a sick friend, a few days away from surgery. Rather than acting in the usual way, he opened up about some medical bills. It just so happened, my wife and I had discussed doing something different with our money. God had given to us, and we wanted Him to give through us. Boom! Need.
These are just two examples, but there were so many more in a few short days. On the one hand, it is exhausting having stepped through the looking glass. There are moments when it would be easier to believe the magician really did pull a rabbit out of a top hat. There is bliss in ignorance. On the other hand, it is glorious. Regardless of the answers to direction in life, I have purpose. No matter my occupation or location, God has created me to invite Truth into the world. If I never truly understand my own needs, I will always have needs that reside in the needs of others.
Lord, help me to live as Your ambassador before I live as anything else.