Thursday, September 6, 2012

I Guess God Overheard

I once heard a church leader say, "God only hears the prayers of the saved and the request of the unsaved for their salvation from sin." I personally and respectfully disagreed then and still do, but understood how he'd come to his conclusions based upon his selection of and understanding of Scripture. Recently this discussion was raised again in my Sunday morning Bible study class, where we spent several weeks examining the Lord's Prayer as our model for how we talk to God. We came to a general conclusion that God hears the prayers of all people regardless of their "status" with him, but used examples from our own experience and awareness more than Scripture to back up that concept. So, with that mulling around in my brain, I was intrigued to read in Daniel 6 this morning.

After Daniel's been called on the carpet for worshiping God instead of Darius, the pagan king of the Medes and Persians, the king "was very angry with himself for signing the law" [that said he should be worshiped for 30 days]. So angry that he spent a "day looking for a way to get Daniel out of [the] predicament." Unable to find a solution, he finally relents and gives the order for Daniel to be arrested and thrown into the lions' den, but as he does, he says to Daniel, "May your God, whom you worship continually, rescue you." Now, I wouldn't call that a prayer, because it was a comment of hope addressed to a man in a situation of great desperation, but it certainly expressed the cry of his heart. The king clearly had a soft spot for Daniel and hated to see this exacting of justice served, and he was deeply grieved. Verse 18 says he didn't eat, refused his usual entertainment (guess he wasn't in the mood for ESPN) and couldn't sleep at all that night. Pretty serious responses from a guy who's basically in charge of the whole known world at the time.

But here's what caught my attention: there's no mention in that chapter of Daniel praying for deliverance from the lions' den. Now, I'm not foolish or silly enough to believe Daniel wasn't praying fervently as he stood in the midst of those lions. After all, a guy who's courageous enough to pray to God with his windows open, when he can be seen and caught, isn't going to have any qualms about praying when he's likely to be supper for some carnivores. But I'm not brave enough to inject into scripture or assume that he definitely was praying to get out of there alive. God's angel came to shut the lions' mouths, Daniel said, because he was innocent in God's sight, not because he'd begged and pleaded for liberation.

The pagan king, however, made his hope and heart-cry quite clear as he was tossing Daniel into the den. So for those who say God only listens to the prayers of the saved, I guess God just happened to overhear. 

Finding a Rhythm in the Priorities

I can't believe it's been nearly a year and a half since my last post. I think a precious little boy is the primary reason. Not to mention selling a house, buying a house, moving out of two houses into one, painting the walls and replacing the flooring of the aforementioned new house, leading and writing Bible need to continue. Everybody has those seasons of life that are filled with significant life changes, coupled with lots of "stuff" to do. One of my greatest pet peeves is listening to people try to one-up each other recounting and enumerating their "busy-ness" lists. I know it's because (at least in our Western U.S. culture) worth and value are now equated with activity and being needed. I'm just as guilty as anyone else. I keep a running "to do" list, and can't begin to describe the sense of elation I receive when I check off a project or delete it as completed. But the problem I find for myself is in focusing on the list, I miss the moments and people relative to those tasks.

God's really been dealing with me about this lately. I want to keep a neat house, be a well-prepared Bible study teacher, etc., but ringing in my ears is the wisdom of men and women who've walked this road longer than me:
     "He won't be small long."
     "Cherish those cuddles and hugs."
     "You'll turn around and he'll be grown."
When I think about how quickly the last 17 months have flown, I believe them. So I'm making deliberate steps and efforts to put down the dishrag in exchange for a toy car. To drop the load of laundry I'm carrying in exchange for a spontaneous hug. To set aside the laptop in exchange for puzzles and blocks. To turn off the iPhone in exchange for cuddling together while we read a book. Some perfectionists might look at the current state of my house (which isn't of hoarder status - don't worry!) and say I've lowered my standards. I think I'm choosing to get my priorities in proper order.

Today, I actually feel like I'm beginning to find a rhythm with my priorities. Darin's at work and Josh is at his two-day-a-week preschool, learning all kinds of things, and while the washing machine is humming, I'm taking a little time to gather my thoughts (some of them were so scattered I thought I'd lost them like socks in the dryer!), spend time with the Lord and generally be...well...human. Not a functional machine or robot, but an actual human being who thinks and feels and contemplates. Wow! (Some of you won't recognize me the next time you see me!) This rhythm isn't a steady beat by any stretch of the imagination, but it's my drum and it certainly resonates deeply within my soul, bringing a bit of sanity and helping me march a little more confidently and purposefully on this narrow road God's called me to walk. It's a good day.

And now, for my next priority: cleaning the toilet.