Friday, March 11, 2011

Earthquakes, Tsunamis, and God

My favorite geographical location in all the world is a beach.  I can, and have on many occasions, sat on the beach for hours just taking it all in.  There is nothing like the beach.  The sound of the water overpowers most everything else.  I love to swim in the ocean.  The feeling of freely swimming in something so powerful is amazing.  It is like learning to trust God.  He is awe-ful, but I am unafraid because I trust Him.  The power of that water is awe inspiring.   I love to just sit and watch the water come in and go out.  If at any point, God decided to, He could intervene, and the tide wouldn't work like it does.  The water would break loose, and completely devastate the earth.  It happened in Genesis, and God promised to never completely destroy the earth again by flood. I can sit with confidence on the beach, in awe of the mighty power of God that He keeps restrained.  It is His mercy that keeps the water where it is supposed to be. 

This morning when I woke up hearing of an earthquake off the coast of Japan which caused a tsunami.  One of those times that God did not keep the water restrained.  My first concern was a friend in Guam.  Then as I watched the videos on television, I sat in awe of the devastation.  The pictures from a plane of this 30 foot wave that wasn't dying down like most waves do before they reach the shore.  The wave hits the shore, and moves everything in its path like twigs in a river.  I saw one scene of a tractor trailer just picked up and floating around like it was an inner tube.  Dozens of cars and houses just picked up by the water and moved across the farmland like lava.  I watched in silence for a long while.  The fear that those people must be experiencing! 

Yet the Lord brought me back to Who He is. He is the Almighty God.  He reminded me of His mercy, of His holiness, of His love, of His wrath, of His protection.  Psalm 46 began running through my mind: 

God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth should change and though the mountains slip into the heart of the sea; though its waters roar and foam, though the mountains quake at its swelling pride. Cease striving and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth. (46:1-3, 10 NASB)

Who knows why God allowed this earthquake, tsunami, and devastation . . . but honestly we all deserve to die.  It is His mercy that He extends to those of us unaffected.  I hope that we are all reminded of God, His power, His Lordship, His holiness, and most of all His mercy. 

My heart and prayers are with those suffering from the devastation.  God, I pray that You would be with them, and they would search for You.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Praying in Faith

So how do we pray in faith?  I find it difficult to find the balance in praying in faith believing that God is going to do something and praying in faith that God's will is primary.  I'm finding that I pray selfishly (and why not, selfishness has completely infiltrated my life . . . sorry for the sarcasm).  Somewhere I went off the path . . .

I want to pray confidently that God will answer my prayer.  I want to pray confidently that God is in control, but since I am not God (for which I am so grateful), I don't know His will. 

I had an email conversation with a godly man about this topic to help me get my head back on straight, and here is what I've learned. 
1.  Praying in faith is not about having faith in the request coming to pass, but having faith in the God to whom we pray.  TV preachers and pentecostals are constantly preaching the "name it & claim it" theology, and that is what this is.  This actually looks alot like "I'll tell God what to do."  I AM NOT GOD.
2.  A big part of praying is for the pray-er to have his or her will conformed to the will of God.  This is a big deal.  I find that when I am just reflecting on what God's perspective might be on the situation that I am quickly given that truth.  God wants me to see things from His perspective, and so when I ask, He gives that  to me.  The tough part is submitting to that contentedly.
3.  The Bible is clear to let us know that we don't always get what we want.  This was confusing to me, especially living down here in Church of God country where "Name it & Claim it" is a popular prayer. But when I think about it . . . again, I'm not God.  He is.  Parents know the difference between what their kids want and need.  Sometimes parents give them things they just want, but many times they don't.  The same is true with God.  He knows what we need and what we just want, and sometimes He gives us what we want.  But He always gives us what we need. 
4.  Prayer is not designed by God to be a means by which we twist His arm to get what we really need or want.  Prayer is a means of communion with Him & our means of making our requests known to Him.  This is where I have really missed the boat.  Prayer is communion with God.  It is a time to "be still and know that He is God" (Ps. 46).  It is a time to get to know Him and learn how to hear Him. 

God, help me to learn how to hear You better. Help me to learn to pray in faith well.  I need to walk through life and listen closely.