There are many wonderful things to say about the benefits of reading God’s Word every day and making it a priority to understand what you read, and then trying to apply it to your life. It’s called maturing. Actually, it’s called spiritual maturity. And it’s worth the effort. And the interesting thing about this is that you never fully mature. We all, no matter how long we’ve been believers and seekers, will never fully know Him. Well, not on this side of the dirt, anyway. There’s a beautiful quote that my dad introduced me to some time ago when I began my journey through the Bible. I was nervous and insecure. Here it is:
“The Scriptures are shallow enough for a babe to come and drink without fear of drowning and deep enough for theologians to swim in without ever touching the bottom.” St. Jerome.
Isn’t that something? All are welcome. Everyone’s safe and satisfied. And when you come, there is always something new to learn and apply. Well, I had a big one this past Spring. The Scripture appeared at the time of my personal need. Here’s the verse: “Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.” Galatians 6:2 And the law of Christ is simply this; love God and love one another. So clearly, there’s an action associated with this love. And I needed action.
I had been struggling with three major issues in my life and I had been struggling with them………. alone. One day, a friend “just happened” into my store and suggested I gather an army. That’s basically all she said. She said, “You need an army.” And then proceeded to give me a Biblical illustration found in Genesis 14. That night I opened my Bible to that particular passage and began to ask my heavenly Father to show me, enlighten me. “What is it Lord? What do I need to see?” And there it was. I needed an army of gals to pray for me and support me on these three major issues. That same evening, I composed an email to seven women. I call them “my fabulous seven”. I knew that if I presented my needs to them, they would be faithful to pray me through them. The following morning as I sat at gate 1A ready to depart for Houston, my phone began to alert me that emails were loading in to my message center. And there they were. My fabulous seven were stepping up to the plate and claiming ownership of my prayer requests. I can’t begin to tell you the relief that was known to me at that very moment and yet not one thing in my circumstance had changed. There was peace in the midst of my storm. Read that sentence again, would you please? That’s right. My fabulous seven owned their prayers and made it very clear to me that I was an active name in their conversations with Christ. They let me know. They responded and followed up and continue to do so to this day. Incidentally, all three issues are behind me. History. A place I was. Not am. Yet my fabulous seven still surround me. And how grateful I am for their support.
Several days ago, I stopped by my favorite little neighborhood market. The fellows behind the counter know me by name and know who I am, what I do and where I go to church. They know I teach a women’s Bible study; they know I am a Christian. On this particular day, I greeted my friend cheerfully and realized he was a man in deep despair. He walked out from behind the counter on to the floor, and came face to face with me and asked me to pray for him. I assured him that I would. Now this is where everything comes into focus for me and maybe for you, too. How many times do we say to people “I’ll be praying for you” and then leave it at that? Oh, I can tell you! Too many times! Those five words float around the Christian community with an air of smugness and indifference more often than I care to acknowledge. Do we really pray for others? And if we do, do we own those prayers and put feet to them like my fabulous seven have done and do for me? Oh, I’ve been so convicted as I consider how often I have offered prayers for others and not followed through to be for them what Christ would have me be. Ephesians 5:1 says “Be imitators of God”. Philippians 1:27 “Let your manner of life be worthy of the gospel of Christ”. Do I own the prayers? Am I ready to do more with a prayer than just give my friend lip service one time?
Here’s the deal. When I kneel before our Father I should be saying ‘Lord? I lift my friend to you and what can I do for him to bring honor and glory to you?’ What can I do? That my Friends…. Is ownership. If so, consider my friend at my favorite little neighborhood market. His circumstances may not change but knowing that the power of almighty God is being prayed over him will bring sweet relief that offers peace in the midst of his storm. “Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.” Indeed.