Thank you for seeing me [a prayer]

You knit me together in my mothers womb. I am known by you. I have never been a passive, random outcome of a life system – that is not the way you work. You are intentional.

I am not the same as others around me. I am different. You saw to it that others complement my weaknesses, and I can buoy others with my strengths. You saw to it that I would come alive when I live in community with others.

My life was never meant to look like my neighbors. It was meant to look however you see fit as I look to you. And that alone could keep me dependent on you, for it is so easy to emulate what I see and what I think I desire. But you’ve made me special. And you are but a breath away, ready to lead me and instruct me. For you know the plans you have for me. You know the paths I must travel and the people I must meet. You know the desires of my heart and what gets me up each morning, for you made me.

And you listen as I pray. You hear each worry and do not shun me for bringing my earthly troubles. For this is where I am and where you’ve placed me. You care when my grocery bill is low. You want to help when my friendships are hard. You understand I am tempted with jealousy and you offer a way out.

The trials of my life are not petty in your eyes. They are opportunities you use to show me a better outlook, a better mindset. They are opportunities to show me that you are here with me. You see. You know. You understand.

And you offer me wisdom. You lead me to your truth. You don’t abandon me. No, you rescue me!

God, you are only good. I submit to your leading and take comfort in how you see what I can’t. My vision is limited, but yours is not. I trust you in every circumstance and praise you with every outcome.

Assuming the Worst

“The Lord must hate us. That’s why he has brought us here from Egypt—to hand us over to the Amorites to be slaughtered.”
Deuteronomy 1:27

The twelve leaders had returned from scouting the promise land. Two of them raved about the beautiful land, saying it was indeed everything God had been promising, and they encouraged the community to press forward and claim the land that had been promised to them!

But the other ten didn’t see that. All they saw were obstacles and enemies. They incited fear and rebellion, causing the nation to cry out, “The Lord must hate us! That’s why he has brought us here from Egypt — to hand us over to the Amorites to be slaughtered.”

Do you see what’s going on here? Instead of hearing the good news that the land ahead of them was everything God had been promising them, they believed the worst.

As I’ve said before, I’m on a journey of reading through the Bible in chronological order, with the help of The Bible Recap as a resource and a guide. I’ve now read Genesis, Job, Exodus, Leviticus, and Numbers. And through these books I’ve gotten to see a lot of God’s character. And this is specifically why the verse I’m talking about today struck a chord with me. Because of all I’ve seen in these five books so far, God isn’t out to get us. He doesn’t play with us like toys. He doesn’t create these complex evil schemes to destroy us.

So to see the Israelites claim “The Lord must hate us!”…it simply stopped me in my tracks.

God didn’t hate them. In fact, he felt the very opposite and had done nothing but act in that manor. Yet all they could see was their own fear. And all they could do was act out of that fear.

Had they learned nothing since Egypt?

…Have I?

This is where the rubber meets the road. Because as soon as I was surprised by their reaction, I was convicted of my own reactions to the way God works.

God doesn’t hand a good life to us in a pretty basket. And what he was asking of the Israelites wasn’t pretty or easy either. He told them, in a matter of words, Before you is the land I have set aside for you. But you must go in and drive out those who live there now. You must go to war with them and destroy themeven though they are more numerous and stronger than you.

But he also said, in a manner of words, I will go with you and I will give you victory.

But they didn’t believe his promise of victory. Even though they had witnessed miracle after miracle after miracle, they still doubted his power. They still doubted that he cared for them.

I don’t think we need to see more miracles. I think we need to trust him. Clearly, miracles alone won’t keep us close to God. And I think the reason may be that we beg God for a miracle in times of desperation and agony, but as soon as we are satisfied we no longer need him.

It’s time to take a leap of faith and trust God. Time to cultivate a relationship with him that continues through the good and the bad. One that never ceases to acknowledge him and ask him for daily wisdom and guidance. For confidence and courage!

If we live one desperate moment to the next, we’ll only see the trials. We will assume that God has evil planned for us. But if we live in reverence we’ll see that he actually has a master plan at work that has a long term vision that reaches far past today.

He is worthy of our trust. He is trustworthy.

I dare you, as I’m daring myself, to assume the best. God is for you, not against you. Submit to his ways, his timing, his plans. And when he say go, go! When he says stay, stay. And when he sends you out against a foe that is bigger and stronger than you, march in confidence.

God doesn’t need to prove himself to us. But we need to prove to him that we can take orders and trust his word. And if we can do that, we will look back and see provision after provision, miracle after miracle, and a depth of relationship that will last into eternity.

How do you move a 100ft cliff?

I’ve heard all throughout my growing up years, as well as now into my 30s, that prayer is a conversation with God. But even though people have told me this over and over again, I’ve always had a hard time accepting it that way. Whenever I sit down to pray, verses like Matthew 6:8 come to mind, which says, “…your Father knows exactly what you need even before you ask him!”

But I keep finding myself asking, “If he knows, why pray? Why spend the time and effort?”

I’ve known for a long time that prayer has been hard for me. It’s been a known struggle. Every morning when Luke and I sit down to pray together, it’s mostly Luke doing the praying because I just can’t seem to find the desire to do so myself. I do sometimes when something very specific is going on, but even then it’s been hard.

I didn’t realize until very recently, however, why.

That is, until I read this section of scripture…

One day a petition was presented by the daughters of Zelophehad—Mahlah, Noah, Hoglah, Milcah, and Tirzah. Their father, Zelophehad, was a descendant of Hepher son of Gilead, son of Makir, son of Manasseh, son of Joseph. These women stood before Moses, Eleazar the priest, the tribal leaders, and the entire community at the entrance of the Tabernacle. “Our father died in the wilderness,” they said. “He was not among Korah’s followers, who rebelled against the Lord; he died because of his own sin. But he had no sons. Why should the name of our father disappear from his clan just because he had no sons? Give us property along with the rest of our relatives.”

So Moses brought their case before the Lord. And the Lord replied to Moses, “The claim of the daughters of Zelophehad is legitimate. You must give them a grant of land along with their father’s relatives. Assign them the property that would have been given to their father.

“And give the following instructions to the people of Israel: If a man dies and has no son, then give his inheritance to his daughters. And if he has no daughter either, transfer his inheritance to his brothers. If he has no brothers, give his inheritance to his father’s brothers. But if his father has no brothers, give his inheritance to the nearest relative in his clan. This is a legal requirement for the people of Israel, just as the Lord commanded Moses.” – Numbers 27:1-11

Let me tell you what’s happening here. The families inheritance was to go to the oldest son, but this man, Zelophehad, had five daughters and no sons. When he died, his name was going to disappear and these sisters were going to be left with nothing. So the sisters brought this issue to Moses, and Moses took it to God.

Notice what God says. He says their claim is legitimate and that they must be given the grant of land that would have been given to their father. Then he goes on to give instructions for the rest of the nation, saying that if a man has no sons, his inheritance goes first to the daughters.

This whole section spoke volumes to me about prayer. Had the sisters stayed quiet about their situation, they would have ended up with nothing. But their petition and reasons for wanting their father’s land was not only heard by God, he acknowledged their request and gave them what they desired.

It wasn’t until I read this passage that I realized I’ve had a flawed view of God. I’ve been thinking of God as ridged, set in his ways…knowing what’s going to happen with everything pre-determined and set on it’s course. I’ve been praying, but they have been passionless prayers. Praying has felt like standing at the bottom of a 100ft cliff and trying to push it to another location. Impossible. Honestly, I’ve wondered why I even try if God knows all and is directing everything anyway.

But now? I see that God hears our petitions. Not only that, he’s willing to act on them. If I stay quiet, so will he. If I engage him in questions and conversations? He’ll engage right back. These were five women, out of hundreds of thousands of people. But God heard them. Not only that, his answer benefited others in the nation who were in the same position as they were.

This is all pretty incredible to me, and has really given me a new perspective on prayer. God does listen. He can be moved to act on our prayers.

Prayer is no longer a listless shove against an immovable, insurmountable monolith. It’s a conversation with a flesh and blood God who sees, knows, cares, and understands. Who’s empathetic. Who wants the best for me.

Sure, I won’t always get what I want. But I believe that God knows better than I do what is truly good and helpful. And I know now that I will see change that would never have happened had I left it alone.

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