What gets you through when what you want, what you’re believing for, praying for, declaring, telling others about…doesn’t happen? Not on your time table, anyway. On Monday you say, “By Friday…” Well, Friday comes and goes, and your prayer doesn’t seem to have been answered. Some will say your request wasn’t within God’s will. Or you may wonder, Is God listening? Is there a God? Is the “Infinite Intelligence” distant and disinterested, as some think?
I’ve been in church my entire life. But not every church of which I’ve been a part took the Bible seriously. When we speak with each other, we take the plain meaning of words to be what’s intended, unless the tone of voice, body language, or situation dictate something else such as sarcasm, a pun, or exaggeration. After all, if words didn’t have meaning on which we agree and understand, communication couldn’t occur. So why is it, so often and for so many, when we read God’ word we don’t consider the plain meaning to be His intent? Some of these churches have been “so spiritual they weren’t any earthly good.” The result is that our faith is weakened. We don’t believe His word; we don’t believe our own. Jesus warned us that we will be held to account for every idle word we speak. Our words express ideas and both the ideas and the words matter.
So, what about that thing you want and pray for?
My pastor defined “grace” as what keeps you going past Friday, when you’re still waiting to see, touch, smell, hear, taste–experience in full–that thing you requested. Perhaps it is health, healing, finances, the baby, a husband, reconciliation, strength to get through another day, wisdom to know what to do in a situation. Grace keeps you expectant, hopeful, optimistic, through the delay.
Remember Daniel, praying and fasting. He cried out to God for twenty-one days. The angel Gabriel arrived to say, “Hey, I was immediately dispatched with your answer, but I got held up by the demonic powers. Angel Michael helped me, and I’m here now to personally deliver God’s word to you.” WOW. God does exist. God does hear. God does care, and He does answer. There’s just so much more going on around us than our limited physical bodies and minds can perceive.
Faith believes the best of God. Faith is the substance, a thing, that transforms our requests of God into this material world. There are conditions. We don’t have because we don’t ask. Zelophehad’s five daughters were not to receive any inheritance in Israel, but they took initiative and spoke up. God agreed and they received property among the men of their tribe (Numbers 27). The take-away: ASK.
Next, we may not receive because we ask with wrong motives. God loves a pure heart. He is a giver–in fact, the Giver–of all good things. In Proverbs, we’re told He blesses and adds no sorrow with it. There is no bitter-sweet with our God. He’s good, through and through. So, have no fear. There’s no trick with our God, not like in Grimms’ fairy tales with a bait and switch. There’s no shifting shadow, just pure light and joy.
To experience grace we need to know God. We begin to know God through His word. We need to know that He is honest and trustworthy, that He is good, and He knows each of us personally with a tender affection. We have to read His word–not merely a to-do item on our bucket list, but to read and think about it and practically experience it, like a conversation with any other person. Read the Bible. In a sense, it’s the lecture portion of a college course. Then put the words into practice, like the college course lab. His words have meaning and they matter. He says it is only through Jesus we can truly know Him. Grace is the lab. Grace gets us through disappointment and delay. Grace comes through faith, believing Jesus. Our words express our attitude, our orientation, either hope and faith or fear and duplicity. Put the head knowledge into practice.
If our request is genuine and our God is good, we know we have what we have asked of Him. So be patient, hopeful, expectant, and at peace. And, watch words. Believe God’s good word for you. Speak well of Him and His plans. Feed on grace, that unearned, undeserved good gift of God that sustains us like manna in the barren place as we wait.