Not perfect but still learning is a statement that defines my walk with the Lord. I’m under no false belief that since I became a Christian in 2006 that somehow I am perfect. Certainly, I am not the same person I was before I received Jesus’ free gift of salvation. I am also not the person I will be when I am in Heaven with my Lord and Savior, Jesus. What I am is a sinner saved by grace who is learning about my relationship with God. I am still learning my place within the family, and my place within the local church.
Following the leading of the Holy Spirit
I’m not one who lives for the spotlight and am quite content to be behind the scenes. A couple of months back, I was asked to lead the Sunday School introduction. Within the Salvation Army, this is commonly called prelims or preliminaries. As I began to pray about what the Lord would have me do, the idea hit me. I would create a character that really doesn’t care what others think of him. He would be goofy, strong-minded, but in love with his Lord and Savior. So, with a name suggestion from my father-in-law, Professor Bib Lical was born. Since then, he has become a much-loved character by both adults and children. He uses science and the scientific method to show the nature of our faith, the wonders of creation, and the grace of God.
For some reason, this character, in spite of his funny appearance, clumsy manners, and really bad accent, has a way of getting to the heart of what the Holy Spirit leads him to say. As I’m delivering the preliminary thought, I often watch the faces of old and young as the message the Holy Spirit is leading me to share is heard by all. Then there are times, as it was this past Sunday, where I feel that the Holy Spirit is speaking through him directly to me as if I am the only person in the room.
A teaching moment by the Holy Spirit to me
This past week the Lord laid on my heart to illustrate how many of us approach prayer. I began with the familiar verse, Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God (Philippians 4:6). After having this verse read by a member of the congregation, I put some flower seeds in the hand of my assistant. I asked them to plant the seeds, then ask the seeds to grow. When that didn’t work, I asked the young man to yell at the seeds. Much to the laughs and giggles of everyone in the room, the seeds never sprouted and we didn’t see blooms.
We then shared the next verse, But when ye pray, use not vain repetitions, as the heathen do: for they think that they shall be heard for their much speaking (Matthew 6:7). I asked the assistant then to beg the seeds – five times – using the same words each time. Yes, it was funny. Some of the young people laughed. But it was at this point the Holy Spirit began working directly within my heart.
At the point of life I am at, I still have issues with worry. Last October, as I have previously shared, I surrendered to the Lord’s call on my life and am working towards entering the full-time ministry within the Salvation Army. It is a long process and while I do pray each day that the Lord will bring me to the point where I am actively serving His will, I still worry. I worry that I won’t be good enough. I worry that I won’t make it through the application process. I worry that my past will hold me back. I worry that I won’t be able to serve. I also worry that I will be rejected by those who makes the decisions as to whom is allowed to attend the required training.
Yet, in the middle of all this worry and fear, I was in front of people teaching what the Lord laid on my heart – “be careful for nothing…” in other words, God tells all of us not to be anxious – and as I was sharing this with those who were there, He was reminding me as well. I, too, needed to hear His message not to worry, to have faith, and to put my trust in Him.
God’s message is always common sense
I ended this particular lesson this last Sunday with the verse, I waited patiently for the LORD; and he inclined unto me, and heard my cry (Psalms 40:1). Since yesterday, I’ve really thought about the lessons the Lord taught me about my own prayer life. Oh, it is so easy to pray about something and then worry about it. Yet the Bible tells us that God wants us to pray about whatever is on our heart. We are then to adopt an attitude of thanksgiving, believing that God will answer our prayer: Continue in prayer, and watch in the same with thanksgiving (Colossians 4:2). There are countless verses where Jesus tells us that God knows our needs, we are more valuable than sparrows, and we need to have faith. Yet, for many of us, we come to the Lord filled with worry and doubts.
We come to our prayer time filled with expectations of unfulfilled prayers and doubts. We lift our voices to the Lord without an attitude of thanks or faith that He will answer. We let our doubts and fears get the better of us. We effectively shut down our prayer life and wonder why we don’t hear from God. We wonder why He doesn’t answer our prayers. But when we pray, we do everything the opposite of the way the Bible instructs us to do. So, as I begin this week, I’m asking the Lord to help me develop a new attitude of prayer; one that is more according to the will of God than filled with worry and doubt.