Sunday, April 17, 2016
See, today I've had a couple epiphanies. One of them was related to Lewis. The other related to the reading for today. So I'll share them both.
The first realization I had regarded free will and prayer. See, my friend told me about an instance in her life when she was almost abducted as a little girl. A man in a station wagon (why is it always a station wagon?) grabbed her by the hair and tried to force her into his car. Suddenly, for no apparent reason, he let go and drove away. Clearly God had protected this little girl from a horrible fate. Which raises the question - why doesn't God always do that? Why are little girls abducted and horrible things happen to them, when He can intervene like He did with my friend?
Well, I explored this question in my prayer. And it occurred to me that God created us with free will. Men are allowed to make terrible decisions and turn themselves into predatory monsters. Children have free will and can wander away to somewhere dangerous. And when predatory monster meets wandering child, horrible things can happen. If it weren't possible, then free will would be a facade. We would still be automatons.
But this is where prayer comes into the picture. When we pray, we INVITE God to "interfere" with our lives. No longer is He FORCING us to do something. We are ASKING Him to change things in our lives. To work miracles. To step in and protect us. And so, in some instances, He does just that.
That doesn't mean that every time we pray He's going to keep bad things from happening. Bad people are out there, and they still have free will. If they want to hurt someone badly enough, it can still happen. ISIS still rapes and kills Christians. But God works all of those things for good. Sometimes the mystery runs deep, and is hard to trace. But we can trust Him to work everything for good in the end.
Lewis was a little mistaken on the issue of prayer. He said that when we pray, the person who is praying is changed, but God usually isn't. In other words, when we pray it changes us, not God or the circumstances. He had difficulty seeing how God could allow us to participate in the work that He does in our lives. But when you see it as inviting Him into our lives to change things, rather than forcing us to do things against our will, it makes prayer make sense.
The second epiphany had to do with the verse that says "Delight yourself in the LORD and He will give you the desires of your heart." If you've read my blog for awhile, you know that I've explored this idea already. God gives us BOTH the desire itself and the object of our desire. But what I realized today was that He does something similar to what marketing firms do. He causes us to want something that we previously didn't realize we wanted.
When I'm sitting on my couch at home watching TV, and a commercial comes on selling the newest, coolest phone, I find myself suddenly WANTING something that I didn't want just a few seconds earlier. And then I can go out and buy it. And it pretty much never satisfies the strong desire I had.
God does the same thing, with one major difference. When we pray, He changes our desires. He helps us to WANT the things that He wants for us in our lives. And then He helps us to find the object of those desires. But in this case, the object of THAT desire satisfies us on a deeper level than we even knew we had. God helps us to WANT the things that bring us the deepest joy.
Finally, my friend and I were talking about losing pets tonight. And I was grieving over the dog that I lost a few years ago. And Lewis's words helped me to move past that. To let that grief go, and live in the joy of having had a wonderful dog.
Thanks, God, for always knowing the perfect thing to say.