Thursday, August 29, 2013

Answered but not noticed

 “As he was going into a village, ten men who had leprosy met him. They stood at a distance  and called out in a loud voice, “Jesus, Master, have pity on us!”

When he saw them, he said, “Go, show yourselves to the priests.” And as they went, they were cleansed.

One of them, when he saw he was healed, came back, praising God in a loud voice. He threw himself at Jesus’ feet and thanked him—and he was a Samaritan.

 Jesus asked, “Were not all ten cleansed? Where are the other nine?  Has no one returned to give praise to God except this foreigner?” Then he said to him, “Rise and go; your faith has made you well.” Luke 11:17-19

I was surprised recently how forgetful I am. I’ve had a burden for my oldest son and had prayed that God would show me his heart and a root cause for some of his struggles. I’ve been burdened and had lived with the effects of that burden before God for a while. Eventually other, more pressing issues had come up and taken precedence over what was going on with my son and I simply stopped bringing it to God in prayer. While I was busy with other things, God went ahead and answered my prayer! It was an amazing miracle and true grace and mercy on my son and on me. I would have been shouting it from the rooftop if only… if only I would have noticed it. Ever had that happen to you? God answers a prayer you prayed months ago and you don’t even notice at first because you are so busy with other issues. I didn’t notice because I really wasn’t looking, hoping and expecting it anymore. I was shocked when I realized my lack of faith. I also have a pretty good idea of why I lacked that faith. If I’m really honest, my prayers and pleas to God for my son came from a weary heart that was looking for comfort and ease for me first, not for what would bring God the most glory.
Like all the lepers in the story and because God is good, I did get my prayer answered anyway, but the lack of faith caused by the wrong motive, stopped me from noticing the miracle when it happened and thanking Him for it. Like the 9 lepers who got healed, I just kept on walking. Only one of them returned to give thanks and was declared to have had faith.
Could it be that the motive in prayer also determines how we perceive the answered prayer. In my case, it caused blindness and forgetfulness and I didn't notice God at work. I also couldn't share it with others and thereby glorify God.

The other part is simply remembering when He has answered us and not moving on to other things so quickly that the glory is diminished and the blessing forgotten. I suggest keeping a small notebook to record all our specific prayers with a date of the request and another date when that prayer is answered. The point is not to journal but to simply record and remember Gods faithfulness.  This “remembering” is very biblical. In Joshua chapter 4, God had the Israelites set up stones to help the people recall Gods faithfulness.

And Joshua set up at Gilgal the twelve stones they had taken out of the Jordan.  He said to the Israelites, “In the future when your descendants ask their parents, ‘What do these stones mean?’  tell them, ‘Israel crossed the Jordan on dry ground.’  For the Lord your God dried up the Jordan before you until you had crossed over. The Lord your God did to the Jordan what he had done to the Red Sea when he dried it up before us until we had crossed over. He did this so that all the peoples of the earth might know that the hand of the Lord is powerful and so that you might always fear the Lord your God.” Josh.4:20-24
So many times we think that our answered prayers are for our benefit only, God just wants us to feel loved and blessed. But we forget the bigger picture. Our answered prayers are a testimony to the world and to our children “so that the people of the earth might know that the hand of the Lord is powerful and so that you might always fear the Lord your God.”
I wonder how long the other lepers kept walking before they realized that their returning to give thanks, very much revealed their faith.