Right now you’re probably thinking: "this girl is practically crazy because she has not been active on her own blog. Why is she coming back so randomly?"
You make a fair statement, but you ask an ever fairer question.
Sadly, my answers to that are not too great.
To be completely honest, it's been a walk for me to obtain the confidence so I may post again and arguably, I've avoided posting at all costs. For the longest time, it didn’t matter how much I was pushed to write about this thing or that thing. It did not matter how powerful I thought my observations of God were or how shareable my experiences were. I just couldn't find the confidence to post.
But here you find me now, writing this to you.
I have prayed and sought God relentlessly through this past year. The places He has brought me are places I wouldn’t have thought to find myself.
People I love have pestered, wished, and asked for me to write. They never gave up on me; they were determined for my words to be written and shared.
By my search for God’s guidance and the pushes of the people surrounding me, I believe that I have found the confidence and purpose to write once again; so, let this be my first post of many.
I couldn’t do this without you reading and I want to thank you for taking the time to; thank you for turning back to my blog and having faith in me.
I hope by the faith you have in me, God will reveal himself to you in a way he never has before…
I cannot lie these past couple months, while I have had some amazing experiences, have pulled me face first through some dark valleys. As a product of this, my faith has been tried and twisted. I have watched two people I love fight strange and rare illnesses and witnessed my brother struggle with depression and suicidal thoughts. On top of this, I have been completely dumped into my senior year and I am swimming in a workload that never seems to end.
Through all of this, God has been playing an intense game of hide and seek with me, but it’s not a very great game because it’s pretty dark and I cannot see the direction I’m moving in. It feels as though I receive little confirmation from God regarding my direction and if I am even moving in the right direction. Some days, I feel His presence wrapping me up and others I feel cold as I walk the hallways of my high school. I say all this to ask you: what are we to do during these harsh and cold times? How should we respond when we walk aimlessly through the darkest valleys, waiting for God to give us a flashlight? Three weekends ago, I was formally reminded of something that that has forever changed the way I view prayer.
Three Fridays ago, I loaded onto a trailways bus and headed to good old Sharptop Cove for North Point’s annual fall retreat, Vertical Reality. With my sisters in Christ by my side and music loud, we ascended into the mountains of Jasper to uncover moreabout God and about ourselves. When we arrived, I felt the anticipation rattling inside my bones; I had been waiting for this weekend for quite some time. After the valleys God had yanked me through, I needed to be reminded of His love and truth; I needed to worship until I lost my voice and cry until there were no tears left. Throughout the weekend, I was able to reform bonds with some that had gotten rusty, worship, cry, and get down to the nitty- gritty within my heart.With every weekend, there comes a theme each speaker focuses on. At this Vertical Reality, Gerald Fadayomi highlighted the struggles we find daily with prayer; he hit close to my heart with each word he spoke. I am willing to bet by now someone has pulled you aside or said in a sermon, "there is power in prayer." Yes! I love this truth and while it is refreshing to know our prayers are powerful,there is another side of this truth that we must understand. And it’s this...
How we pray to God will affect the way we see God.
Here’s another way of putting it: the approach we take to God will affect the way we see God.
Through these dark valleys, I have been praying, but I never truly noticed God giving me a flashlight. I wholeheartedly believe this is because I was taking the wrong approach.
Gerald put it like this: there are different approaches we take when we are in prayer.
"Hey, God. It’s me again. You know I have this big test today and if you’re in this lamp, I just need you to grant this one wish for me. I just need this grade, Lord. Amen." God is so much more than just a wish granter.. So, why have some of us shifted to view him this way?
We use this approach when we know we have messed up. As an Otter Box is protection for your phone, we use prayer for protection against a punishment or consequence we well deserve. While God is our Protection in storms, this is not all he is useful for.
Some of us just pray like prayer is our "Nyquil." It puts us to sleep at night and before we sleep, we pray this prayer or a similar prayer we learned as a kid, "now I lay me down to sleep, I pray the Lord my soul to keep. If I shall die before I wake, I pray the Lord my soul to take." While praying is actually my form of Nyquil, I can’t say I have ever prayed this prayer in my life. I can say, though that learning a prayer like this as a kid and praying it every night, becomes a part of your routine. You never think about it when you say it. This kind of prayer can become meaningless if you aren’t careful.
Sometimes we get so caught up in the way our prayers sound and not their content. This practice has lead to a misconception that for God to listen to us, we must sound eloquent and speak in a strange compilation of Shakespeare and King James Version. But who ever told you prayer had to be this way?
"God, if you will just land me a date with this girl or this guy, I’ll pray."
"God, if you would just take away this struggle of mine, I’ll seek you."
"Lord, if you just take away this sickness, I will listen to the right type of music and say the right things."
We have begun thinking that faith is a bargain rather than a relationship when we chose this approach.
So, you’re probably wondering: what is the right approach?
And the answer is simply this: when you pray, God desires for a real approach.
He doesn’t desire bargains, wordy language, rhymes, or wishes.
Your Heavenly Father desires a real and honest conversation with the one He created.
Think about this: has a relationship of yours built on lies ever been a strong one? No! You haven’t gotten the best out of a relationship hiding things all the time. No more have you gotten the most out of a relationship you haven’t spent time developing. God is the same way! You will not have a strong and pure relationship with God if you do not set aside time out our lives to have an open conversation with Him. You don’t just need to be real simple and honest when you bow down before Him, but you have to be. I believe the one thing that could grow your relationship with God more than anything is a change in your approach. Simply because when you change your approach, the way you view God begins to morph.
And when you begin to trust God with your deepest and lowest, He begins seeming more like someone you can call dad, rather than seeming like some figurehead in the sky who is out to get you for your shortcomings or wrongdoings. Once you start calling him Father or Dad, you will then begin to start seeing his matchless plans for your life that are full of joy, purpose, and hope.
I found this verse in Ephesians a few nights ago while reading a plan on the Bible App. It really dug into my heart and left me thinking. This verse is a strong reminder of God’s perfect capabilities; even when I am stumbling around in the deep, dark trenches of my life flashlight-less, God is working out all the logistics and kinks. I have come to find, as the author of Ephesians so clearly says, God does not work out the logistics with sirens and sound effects, rather God is quiet in spurring us on towards the light. God is an unobtrusive Father and the author of Ephesians highlights this idea with such force that it makes my heart jump.
God can do anything, you know- far more than you could ever imagine or guess or request in your wildest dreams! He does it not by pushing us around but by working within us, his Spirit deeply and gently within us.
Ephesians 3:20-21 (MSG).
So, what is stopping you?
What approach are you taking currently besides an "open and honest" approach?
Whatever approach you find yourself using, whether it be one of the above, or a different one entirely, I challenge you to come before God honestly and simply. You don’t have to stumble in the trench aimlessly anymore. God is giving you chances to approach Him differently.
It has proven itself true in my life.
A change in your approach will change the way you view God. Not only will it change the way you view God, but it will ultimately lead you closer to realizing God has been patiently waiting for you to take the flashlight in your own hand and walk out of the trench with Him.
So, speak up, because when you speak up in prayer, God will speak out to you.
God has blessed us with people in our lives that make us smile when our world is dark, make us laugh, take care of us, and encourage us. One of His many blessings to us is our community. But are you cherishing the people around you with thankfulness?
In faith, we get to feeling stuck in the rut, feeling distant, feeling as though God is stagnant or absent, and being unsure of what to do next. This obvious silence and distance is often what turns people from Jesus, but we must persevere and remember that we live on God’s timing in God’s world.