Confess, Re-Dedicate, Pray, Repeat.

27 05 2009

Here’s the deal.  I’m going to lay it out for you all right now, and in the open for all to see.  Because it’s what needs to happen.  Frankly, it needs to happen for everyone that calls themselves sons or daughters of God.  It needs to happen before you go to youth group, before you go to church, before you go to bible study, or really we should do it again and again, before we lay down before bed, and before we get up out of bed for our days to begin, and probably throughout our day as well…

So what the heck am I talking about.  I’m talking about confession, re-dedication, and prayer.  I hate talking like this, but I’m going to add one more preface here:  This isn’t about being public so people will see me.  And it’s not about “earning God” because nothing I can do is worthy of God.  And anything in public that I do, is probably worth even that little bit less.  But it’s late at night, my wife is in bed, and I’ve got no one to share with.  So it’s going to be you.  Sorry about that. 🙂

So yeah, let’s start with confession.

I confess that I talk a really good game when it comes to God’s provision.  That when it comes to God’s protection, and ultimate plan, I talk a REALLY good game.  I know what God’s truths are, and sometimes I even know where to find them without searching in the bible.  Sometimes I have life experiences on which I can draw, and point you towards, as means of encouragement.  I sincerely use these things as encouragement, but I also confess that as pure as my original motive is, I also get immense pleasure out of “saying the right thing”, and being the person who talks about God.  That’s kind of sick and twisted, and gets it all wrong.  God deserves all glory, not me, not the mouthpiece in some small instance.  No one praises the microphone for speech by the world leader.  No one should, because the microphone should only do its job and go unnoticed.  That pride is my issue, and I confess that as well.

I confess that I talk a lot and think (much more than you’d know) about being “radical” for God.  About giving a lot up so I can feed the poor, or have more time for ministry, or whatever.  I think about it a lot, and I definitely would never contradict that stance by anyone.  However…in practice?  I’m an abject failure in every sense, from every viewpoint.

I live comfortably.  Do I have a mansion?  No.  But I have a roof.  Do I have anything really nice or brand-new?  No, but I have lots of things.  I have the computer I’m writing this on, for example.  I have two cars (actually, I have three!) and it doesn’t matter that they’re all breaking down simultaneously.  I HAVE THREE CARS!!!!  I AM BLESSED!!!!  THEY RUN CURRENTLY!  I don’t have the money to pay for them to be fixed, but I have options.  I have credit.  I have means to make ends meet.  I have SO MUCH!  Yet, I do not give.  I give 10%, sure.  But honestly, that’s weak.  It was cool when I started.  Because that was a huge step for me and my family.  But then we got comfy with it.  We have conversations like: “So, I got a gift card…do I have to tithe that?” “No, because you didn’t really get money, so it’s okay.”

That’s insane!  God made it all!  He owns it all!  Without him, there would be no store, let alone gift cards, let alone a car to drive there, the street to drive the car, the fuel for the car, the air to breathe along the way, and so on and so on ad infinitum!  GIVE!  I should give more.  In fact, I should give everything.  And as I write that, I hesitate.  I’m totally just like the guy in the bible who said to Jesus: “I follow all the commands.  I’m totally awesome.  So what must I do to follow you?”  And then Jesus says…what?

Does he say “Awesome!  Really?  All the commands?  That’s sweet.  Dude, you’re so in!”

Of course not!  He says (knowing we can NEVER earn it, and that all we can do is NEVER enough): “sell all your possessions and give them to the poor, then follow me.”  And the man went away sad because he was very rich.

I’m that guy.  I confess!  I’m that guy!  I couch my fear and greed by saying “I don’t want my kids to suffer if I’m wrong, or being too extreme!” or I think “well, when we got married, my wife never signed on for this!”

And you know what God says to me?  That these people are not my brother, my mother, my wife, my daughters…God has commanded that the least of these…the poor, the unclean, the needy, the annoying, the smelly, the too-close-talking, the ones who don’t know when to stop clinging, the ones who aren’t fun, and who don’t play video games, and the ones who like the world of finance more than they like people…THESE are who I should be concerned with.  That if I trust God…if I REALLY trust God, that he will do what is best for me and my family.

And honestly, here’s the worst-case scenario:  My wife leaves me.  My kids hate me.  My friends think I’m crazy.  My house gets taken away from me, and my credit is ruined.  My cars break and I cannot repair them.  Eventually I cannot afford insurance and I cannot drive them.  I can’t get to work on time, so I lose my job.  I die starving, alone, and sad.

For God.

Is that a bad situation?  Sure, it’s sad, and difficult to hear, and sounds crazy.  But is it wrong?  Is it bad?  I cannot honestly justify any statement that says that’s bad.  If it’s done for God, for his glory, and to help others, and to benefit the poor and the needy, and that it is done as selflessly as possible, and that any time someone tells me how great it is that I sold my stuff to help people, that I only say “Isn’t God wonderful!  Praise him!  I thank him for the opportunity!”  Then there isn’t any way I can spin that negatively.  There simply isn’t a way to do it!

I don’t think I’m strong enough right now.  I don’t think I love God enough.  (I guess that’s another confession there…)  But I’m praying that God will change me.  That he will grow the love for him in me, to the point where I would do crazy, reckless things for his kingdom and glory.  That I would truly understand and obey the meaning of  “love the Lord your God with all of your mind, soul and strength, and love your neighbor”, AT ANY AND ALL COSTS.

This is where the re-dedication comes in.  This is where I’m at now.  I’m praying more frequently than I ever have before, and honestly, I pray I do it more frequently from this point out, to the point where it is a constant mantra for my life: “Lord, take the me out of me, and put more of a love for you there!”  I don’t want to live for me anymore.  I’ve done it for a long time, and while it’s got its moments, in general, it’s meaningless and quite ephemeral.  But, living for God?  It may be crazy and painful and difficult, but it’s also meaningFUL and righteously comforting, and well, simply more right and true.  So, I’m praying that God would continue to soften my heart.  That he would, at the same time, move my family similarly, so that while I would be willing to do so at the sacrifice of my relationships, that they would also do so.  Of course, that’s a little selfish…but it doesn’t make it less of a good idea for them too.

Finally, and continually, as you see, comes the prayer.  Because I’m not that person.  I would NEVER be that person on my own.  Never.  I’m too selfish and self-serving.  I’m too interested in comfort and safety.  But God owns my heart too.  He made me and can change me.  He is all power and all glory.  He can do these things, should he want to, and if I allow him room to do so.  So I must pray regularly for these things.  And I’m really bad at this part.

You know what I do?  So many times (SO MANY TIMES) I pray “Lord, please be with me today as I blah, blah, blah”  or “God, will you be with me, because I’m not too blah, blah, blah” or whatever.  Be with me.  How stupid a prayer is that?  He’s there.  He’s here!  He’s with me.  Right now.  He’s not going anywhere!

What I need to pray is “God, please let me be more with you!  Please move me closer to you every moment of every day!  Let me crave you!   Let me desire you more than any sensuality I can find here on earth.  Let me want nothing more than to serve you fully, with every ounce of strength I can muster!”

This the type of prayer I think God hears.  But I don’t pray this, well, almost ever.  So I need to do this.

I don’t think any of these steps can happen independently.  I think they all need to be in concert.  You can’t honestly rededicate until you’ve confessed where you’ve screwed up.  You can’t pray sincerely until you’ve seen where you’ve screwed up, and made a conscious, sincere decision to rededicate yourself; to reorient towards the right path.  And after you’ve prayed, you realize more and more what you are still lacking, which leads to more confession, which leads to further re-dedication, which leads to more prayer, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera, ad infinitum.

God, that scares me.  It honestly does.  I don’t think I can do that.  But I’m asking you…honestly, I’m begging you to change me fundamentally-to be the person who loves others at any cost, in your name.  Who helps the poor when I see them, even when rationally, I cannot.  Who listens to the annoying person with care.  Who hugs the dirty, smelly person, because they need it.  Who simply isn’t afraid to give all that you’ve given me, back to you and those you place in my path…God I don’t know why you’d invest so much in me, who is so far from that end product.  But if you desire it, and if you want to use me…please do.  I wish to change.  I wish to honor you.  Thank you for the opportunity all around me.  Please give me eyes to see it and the will to act.  In your amazing and all-powerful and awesome name,  Amen.

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8 responses

28 05 2009
justin

great post.

28 05 2009
justin

hey dude,

I totally understand you confession. I have often thought I should embrace the Franciscan Holy Poverty but am constantly pulled back to the “reality” of my situations. I looked at the same passage as you and thought “damn it”. However, I have since re-looked at it and further in the story and other passages in which Jesus tells people what the need to do to follow him. I have come to this conclusion, for now, What Jesus is asking the rich young man to do is get rid of the things that get in the way of having a relationship with X. When he mentions a camel passing through the eye of the needle he is speaking of one of the entrance gates of Jerusalem. It was too small for a heavily loaded camel to pass through. The camel had to be un-packed to fit through the gate. The rich man had to shed the things that prevented him from passing through the gate.

Zaccheus only gave away half of his possessions and repaid all debts plus penalty and yet he was commended by X. He got rid of the things that were preventing him from having relationship. X had rich disciples who funded his ministry.

So I think the issue is to shed those things that get in the way of a relationship with X. If that means selling all you own, then do that. If that means supporting a ministry, do that. If that means paying off debts, do that.

I don’t mean this to sound holier than thou, certainly not, as I still can not fit through the gate, but I am unpacking.

Peace my friend

28 05 2009
otakudad

No “holier than thou” implied, nor assumed, brother. 🙂

But honestly, what I’m realizing, I think, is not that I have to sell everything…although he could ask that of me at any time, and I need to be ready.

But what I DO need to do more is seek out opportunities to humble myself before God and others. I need to seek out opportunities to help those less fortunate…because God has placed them in my path, and that if I truly loved those people, I’d do whatever I could to help.

If it was a family member, would I think twice about dropping everything to be at the bedside of a sick person? Would I think twice about giving sacrificially, and painfully to help with the medical bills of my mom or brother, or whatever? Why not a stranger? Is that person less loved by God? Would I do it for an outright enemy? Someone who I completely disagree, who is abrasive and difficult?

I’m not saying I’m there, of course. I’m far from it. I’m simply becoming less and less comfortable with my being far from it, and praying more and more that God changes my heart, ya know?

I just want His will above all else, and at all cost. I don’t think there is such a thing as “going too far” for Him. I just don’t think I seek out opportunity to be so stretched, and I think I need to do that.

28 05 2009
justin

“I’m not saying I’m there, of course. I’m far from it. I’m simply becoming less and less comfortable with my being far from it, and praying more and more that God changes my heart, ya know?”…yup.

that is what i meant by still unpacking.

I think the knowledge and awareness we both are experiencing are the spirit at work. We will never be totally unpacked. Read Thomas Merton. He was a monk in the 1960s. His stuff is all about trying to unpack and open oneself up to God.

The Seven Storey Mountain is his auto biography.
New Seeds of Contemplation is another great book of his.

28 05 2009
otakudad

I’ll definitely try to look those books up. I love the stories of people on their journey with Christ. It totally gives hope, ya know… I think all too often we see figures in the Bible and forget that they were people just like you and I, but that took bold steps, ya know? So people like Merton help me remember that kind of stuff. The journey is the key…to not remain stagnant. To always be looking forward (and moving forward, despite fall-backs and slip-ups)…

Anyway, that’s the goal at least.

31 05 2009
erica

I’m an abject failure in every sense too with a potty mouth ..but im trying.. I like your post!

31 05 2009
otakudad

Erica, thanks for reading!!! I hope you’re doing well! But, frankly, none of us are going to measure up! So it’s not about comparisons, or who of us is “getting it” it’s simply about not being comfortable being settled, I think. Or feeling like “you know what? No one around me is trying this hard, so I’m stopping.”

I think more than anything else, this is the problem with things today. We think we’ve given “enough” or we’ve served “enough” (I’m totally guilty of this too, so please know this isn’t some “holier than thou” thing…just what I believe to be an apt observation.) I think there’s too much comparison, and we end up feeling burned out, or that we’ve “proven we’re not selfish” so we stop.

But I think that we need to only compare to God for a short time to realize that we can never do enough to ever do anything we can rest upon, ya know? So I’m realizing this myself and realizing that I need to be the person who would give it all up, should God call me to do so, instantly, and without hesitation. In fact, I should be ready to do this, and WANT to do this…cheerfully. And I’m so not there yet. But I’m praying and hoping that I get there someday, or that I at least continue to grow in this way every day, even if it’s in small increments. That I’m always headed towards loving God and others selflessly more and more. That’s my desire, at least…

5 10 2009
777drama

Even though it’s been a while since this post of yours, I’m still moved by your heart and blessed by your words – and your willingness to go spiritually unmasked.
Your prayer is not unlike the words that I find myself (Often. Repeatedly. Frustratedly.) imploring God with. I’m learning what “like a dog to its vomit” means in Proverbs … I’m constantly (willfully) resisting the wonderful opportunities to “be Jesus’ hands and feet” which God places in my path … the ones I NOTICE, at least. It seems on any given day, despite some minor breakthrough I occasionally manage to accomplish in that area, I will choose a subtle backslide in my sacrificial compassion … and I will have returned to the me from whom I so desperately want to shake free! Psalm 19:14 Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in Your sight, O Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer. Some days, it’s all I can do to pray that they’re at least IN SYNC! Praise Him that He KNOWS this struggle is in me and – yet He still willfully died for me. Mind-blowing.

Otakudad – I’ve taped your prayer on my mirror; one more step in that ongoing walk along the road with My Father. teach us, Lord – help us to make it STICK so that we can go M.A.D. in this world for YOU.
I so appreciate you, Otakudad. I needed a push tonight.
Praise our LORD!!!! Thank You, Father.

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