Monday, April 6, 2015

Chester's Prayer

Tuesday, April 7, 2015
So let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God. There we will receive his mercy, and we will find grace to help us when we need it most.  Hebrews 4:16 (NLT)
The writer of Hebrews tells us in this chapter that we are invited to rest in God.  With all there is to worry about in the world and in this life, God bids His children to come close and be forgiven, loved and blessed. 
In fact He writes the invitation in bold letters, crimson letters at the foot of a cross.  And we are to come just that way, covered by the blood of Christ, boldly taking God up on His promise of forgiveness and salvation.
But, going forward, we don’t just come for salvation and then walk away from the cross to live our lives as if to say, okay…that’s done….now I can get back to my life.  The invitation is lifetime and ongoing; we keep coming back
We keep coming back in prayer; the relationship never ends, and it becomes bolder and bolder.  As the old song has it, the longer I serve Him the sweeter he grows.[2]
In one sense, Chester, the big Golden Lab who lives with Chelsea, Will, and our great grandson, Levi, is the praying-est dog I ever met; (he IS a Methodist after all).  But he has a flaw in his method.  Chester keeps his little red and white stuffed toy in his mouth like a child’s pacifier.  Chester also drools a lot.  And, so, Chester’s little red and white stuffed toy is a little like a sponge that has spent the night in the toilet.
But, it’s Chester’s stuffed toy, so who am I to judge.  Anyway, that’s not the point of showing you the flaw in Chester’s prayer pattern. 
Here’s the problem:  Chester wants desperately for you to throw that soggy toy for him so he can run after it (remember the last part of his breed’s name is….retriever). 
The fly in this ointment is that Chester won’t let go of that soggy, smelly stuffed toy for you to throw it.  He’ll bring it to you, nudge you with it, drop it and quickly pick it up again if you make a move to pick it up.  Then he will keep nudging you with that mess, no matter if you’re wearing Sunday clothes, or have just washed your hands for dinner.  He wants you to throw it, but he will not let go of that stinky little toy.
That is so much like me when I pray; God, please do this, do that; so and so needs a lift, she is drowning in bills.  God bless this one with some healing; help me with doing…. 
And then I go “all Chester” on God, laying out this condition or that way God should do it.  I hold onto my prayers and the way I want things handled, so I will be pleased and know it has been done right.  I won’t release my stale, soggy, stinky human-thinking prayers to God so He can fix, cleanse, sanctify and do something holy with it. 
Chester wants to live like a retriever; it’s what he was born to do.  But you can’t retrieve what you hold onto like an alligator in a death roll.
And I’m no different.  When I hold-on like Chester, expecting to control God’s answers, I’m going to live-into my purpose like a pet rock, going nowhere, growing no time, and serving God like a broken dish.  I’m going to miss my purpose, because I won’t take my hands off and let God have the lead.
My first prayer today, after Good morning, Lord, should be, Father…into thy hands I commit my spirit, my prayers, my friends and family, and everything I’ll do today.
You see, even with His dying breath on the cross Jesus was giving us a model for living. 

For You Today

What are the Chester toys in your life?
Are you ready to turn all of it loose and let God lead?

[1] Title Image: Chester the Golden Lab lives in Lexington, NC (author’s own picture)
[2] The Longer I Serve Him, ©William J. Gaither, 1965

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