The One Another Key

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I’ve been trying recently to teach my very independent seven-year-old the importance of teamwork. “You can’t do all the jobs by yourself,” I tell her. “Things work better when everyone gets to do their part,” I remind her. She is quite ambitious and, on the positive side, very confident that there is nearly nothing she can’t do. She reminds me of myself…just before every humbling experience God mercifully brings my way. Some children need to be reminded that they can do anything, but some need to be cautioned that they can’t do everything. My young daughter and I are of the latter camp.

My life has turned another corner recently, bringing yet more transition my way. Some of it is very difficult and looks much different than I thought it was going to. At first, I was deeply shaken and struggled to regain my footing. But I understand that all change requires adjustment, and so I set my heart to embrace the new and release the old, and to learn how to function in the season I’ve stepped into. Still, something wasn’t clicking for me the way it normally does, and I found myself struggling at a much deeper level than I felt like I should have been.

So I did what I normally do, and I began to search myself. I checked all of my areas of responsibility. Have I been in the Word? Yes. Have I been praying? Yes, although prayer looks different right now than in the previous season. Have I been faithfully connecting with my church family? Yes. Have I been serving others? Yes. Have I been resting and taking care of myself? Yes, although I could improve a little here. Are my relationships healthy, as much as I am able to take responsibility for them? Yes, with some degree of difficulty; but I am engaged in the process of working through the present issues. Have I been delighting in God, rather than in other things? Hmmm, there is always some tuning-up that can be done here. Check, check, check….and still I saw no clues about what might be missing, what might be causing such a shaking.

Next on the list was to ask for God’s input, because He can see the things I can’t. So I quieted my heart (which has been in a bit of a frantic, emotional fit) and dragged it into God’s presence for a thorough examination.

Normally this is a pleasant process, but because my heart has been in freak-out mode, it was a little tough to talk it into being searched. Here is where history with God saved the day, because no matter how much pain I am in, I remember that God is good and He loves me. So I know it is always safe to ask Him for help. Thankfully, the light of His truth has revealed the area of my weakness, and I have settled back into resting and trusting God in this new season and new process, despite the difficulty within it, because I have been given a key.

Here is what God, in His great love and mercy, exposed within my heart: there has been a quiet, little voice (which I’ve heard but dismissed) echoing in my mind as I’ve been struggling, repeating an all-too-familiar phrase: “I got this.” Like my earnest and confident seven-year-old who wants to do all the jobs. I love her confidence. I’m so glad she has it. But I know that if she can’t learn to let others do their share of the work, that confidence will become a burden instead of a gift one day. I think God has been reminding me of the very same thing lately, exposing my bent toward independence and my tendency to lean on my own ability and strength – even as I invite Him to watch me do it all.

Of course I didn’t realize I was doing this. I thought because I was leaning into His Word for guidance and praying my way through, that I was ok. I was trusting Him and waiting for His help. Maybe, in some ways, I was. But underneath the waiting was an insistent little heart that thought she could just push her way through to the fixing of all that feels broken and messy. And what I am beginning to see is that God wants to lead me a different way. He wants to accomplish His plans through multiple hands, not just my own. Not even just His own.

We were not meant to walk alone. And we are all far from perfect in this faith journey. I have determined, often, to be strong and consistent, victorious and free. But those are the banners over the journey which often leads me through dark and dangerous valleys where I find myself weak and timid and uncertain. And the truth I am confronted with, in these piercing moments of my life, is that I cannot do this alone. I don’t “got this” at all, because I’m not supposed to handle it all on my own. And that is something to be celebrated, not ashamed of, because it leaves room for others to step in and do their God-given part.

In this place where I would rather not be, I have had to reach for others and ask for help, because there are moments when I can’t see, and times when I can’t crawl my way through. It’s uncomfortable, and sometimes I feel embarassed and vulnerable and spiritually naked, but I also feel the gift of God in the community He has placed around me.

Trust hasn’t come easy in this community – in fact it has taken years of willingness on all sides to build and sometimes rebuild, to tear down what has threatened to get in the way, and to believe God’s way is better than my/our own in the middle of it all. But those hard years of reaching out and building relationships with one another were worth it. Those times of reaching for the people God put in my path when I wasn’t sure if I could count on them, have put stepping stones on the path of wholeness for all of us. Because we chose to pursue the path of staying connected, even when we have failed each other, believing God to make the up the difference, we have each other to reach for in moments like these.

It’s good to lean on God. It’s good to pray. We should pray, without ceasing. But prayer is not always just about you and God, or me and God. Sometimes, in fact oftentimes, leaning on God and praying to God leads us to connect with others, and that connection becomes the key which gives us access to God’s great promises.

The Bible talks a lot about prayer.  James chapter 5 tells us that our prayers are powerful and effective. But there is a key hidden there that we tend to miss. The reminder about our powerful prayers is sandwiched between two portraits of brokenness, both of which require us to make room for others to do their part.

Verses 14-16 of James 5 addresses the need of those who are sick. Prayer, for them, will become effective when they call on another who has faith, and confess any sin in their lives. Wholeness becomes accessible only through the confession of their brokenness, and their connection with others who know the same kind of brokenness. He gives power to the weak, indeed.

Verse 17 heralds a hero of the Old Testament, a mighty man of God who was known for his great miracles. Yet Elijah, we are told, was a man just like us. He was not a great man. He was a normal man. A weak man. A struggling man. His prayers were the channel of God’s power, because the weakness of his humanity was the key God chose to operate through.

Not only was Elijah a man just like us, but he would travel through a dark and difficult valley where God would lead him to connect with another man much like himself. Another frail human being through whom God could demonstrate His glory. Great promises were accessed and fulfilled because one man reached for God when he couldn’t see his own way through, and God led him to reach for another man who was searching to find his own way, too.

Elisha would pick up Elijah’s mantle and run with it, discovering even more of God’s power than Elijah had known. So many lives were changed through the weakness and frailty of men who called on God, and the wisdom of the God Who led those men to lean on one another in their journey of faith. Somehow, as we reach for one another, God moves in ways that He promises will cause the world to marvel at His grace in the whole process. It’s almost like our connection is a catalyst for God’s glory to become visible.

Someone asked an often unspoken question recently: why can’t we just hold it together and walk with strong confidence all the way through our journey? Why do we grow weak and weary and seem to falter when things get hard? The question came in the context of this very passage of Scripture, as we discussed the powerful prayers of the righteous, of those who have put their faith in Jesus and are trying to walk it out boldly and bravely.

The answer is found in the same place where we find the promise. Our prayers are powerful and effective when we call on one another. When we reach for help, and make room for others to do their part. When we confess our fears and faults and failures and weaknesses, instead of hiding them or trying to manage them on our own. When we acknowledge that there is nothing in us that can do this alone, because God never designed for it to be that way. When we face the reality that, even on our best day, our confidence can waver in the face of fierce threatenings or deep pain, and so God has built in the key with which we may access His great promise of prevailing prayer: one another.

If my little girl can do everything on her own, she has no need for me. If I can do everything on my own, I have no need for you. If we can do everything on our own, we have no need for God. He has designed our weaknesses to be assets. He has caused us to need each other, and as we recognize our need for Him, He points us back to the help He has put flesh on – the one anothers in our midst.

For many in our digitally-drowning world, this is a difficult concept. Our media chronicles tell the world about the greatness of our selves and our lives. It’s hard to disrobe in the presence of those we have boasted before. But if we will see real healing, real growth, real answers to our real prayers (the ones uttered in the darkness of our deep nights, when the screens are turned off), we must use the key God has given us. We must reach out and tell the truth about where we really are and what we’re really struggling through. We must stop trying to look and sound like we’ve got it all figured out. Because we really don’t, because we’re not supposed to.

God is the only One Who has it all figured out. And the more comfortable we become with learning to be ignorant, with knowing less and trusting more, the better off we will be. The more honest prayers we will pray. And the more we will be able to reach out and lean on the help of the one anothers He has given us.

Dear Woman of Breakthrough, I challenge you to embrace the mystery of where you are, to reach for a woman to walk with you and pray with you, and to set your heart to see God move! Make deeper connection a greater priority in your life, and you will see much more of God’s plans unfold in your life.

{Photo images courtesy of http://www.pixabay.com}

 


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