“Now to Him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to His power that is at work within us, to Him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.” Ephesians 3:20-21
A Mother Prays for Her Son
I wonder if Mary, expectant with Child, prayed for better circumstances when traveling to Bethlehem. What did she pray before being forced to flee to Egypt, to protect her young Son from Herod’s sword? I wonder if Mary prayed for His safety, as great controversy heated up over whether He was from God or Satan. Did she beg God to intervene as she stood helpless at the foot of the cross?
Though Jesus is King of kings, He was born in a barn; a feeding trough served as His bed. He spent His early childhood years hiding in Egypt. During His ministry, He had “no place to lay his head” and He was repeatedly accused of blasphemy and deceit by the nation’s religious leaders. He was deserted by many followers when the message got a little hard and was betrayed for 30 pieces of silver by one of His chosen apostles. His closest friends ran away when He was arrested, just before His crucifixion on a cross, where He was scorned and taunted by a massive crowd.
If Mary prayed diligently for her Son, which I believe she did, she might have asked, “why God? Didn’t I pray from my heart? Haven’t I obeyed You since the day You announced the coming of Jesus through my womb?” She may have even reminded God of His promise through the angel, Gabriel:
“He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David, and He will reign over Jacob’s descendants forever; His kingdom will never end.” Luke 1:32-33
Despite the horrendous circumstances; regardless of the rejection and humiliation, Christ's suffering had a divine purpose. Never deviating from His plan, laid out before the creation of the world, God was at work, doing immeasurably more than Mary could have asked or imagined. Three days after His burial, Christ arose from the grave, conquering sin and death forever. When He ascended to the Father’s right hand, He took us with Him, seating us in the heavenly realm, and through Him; we share in His eternal inheritance.
On the night of Christ’s arrest, heavily burdened in His heart by His current circumstances, He prayed passionately, “My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as You will.” (Matthew 26:39) Ultimately, trusting God to work out everything for the best and knowing the eternal outcome, Jesus surrendered to God’s perfect will. He knew that “our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.” So, He fixed His eyes “not on what is seen, but on what is unseen since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.” 2 Corinthians 4:14-18
A Prayer for Truth
Twenty-eight years after asking God to “show me the truth,” I am in awe of His faithfulness and wisdom! The day I prayed that prayer, I wanted to know where to go to church, which denomination was the “right” one, and what I must do to go to heaven. Sadly, I was motivated by fear of God’s wrath. I had no comprehension that God is knowable; that a relationship with Him and living in His presence is the true prize. For ten weeks, my husband and I studied weekly with a preacher from one denomination, resulting in his baptism. I also studied with a group of women from another denomination on a different day of each week. But, after both studies ended, I felt more confused than ever. Nothing in our lives appeared to really change; so, I became discouraged and felt abandoned by God. Feeling no closer to the truth than when I’d started, God seemed to remain silent, with no answer to my prayer. My pursuit of God and the “truth” abruptly ended, and I avoided conversations pertaining to Him and religion altogether.
Ten years later, my husband gave me a cross section of a tree he had cut on the construction site where he worked. It was in the shape of a heart, and I decided to find a witty quote about love to engrave on it. First, I thumbed through a poetry book, but nothing caught my eye. Next, I pulled my Bible off the shelf, after years of disuse, and opened to the book of Song of Solomon; an ancient love story. I thought maybe I’d find a fitting verse there, but nothing clicked. Next, I started reading Proverbs; and there, God spoke clearly to my heart.
“My son, if you accept my words
and store up my commands within you,
turning your ear to wisdom
and applying your heart to understanding—
indeed, if you call out for insight
and cry aloud for understanding,
and if you look for it as for silver
and search for it as for hidden treasure,
then you will understand the fear of the Lord
and find the knowledge of God. Proverbs 2:1-5
The message was undeniable. I thought about what it would look like to search for silver and hidden treasure. Serious miners would spend a lifetime searching for precious stones. They would work hard, enduring the heat of the summer and the chill and hardships of winter. It would take a huge commitment, and I realized I’d put very little effort into knowing this God, from whom I’d demanded instant knowledge so long ago. Furthermore, I’d lacked the willingness to wait and listen.
The Heart of the Matter
Twenty additional years later, as I continue to mine His Word, God continues to answer my prayer for “truth,” on a daily basis. But His answer is far beyond my original question; far beyond what I could have ever hoped for or imagined. Yes, He has led me to a wonderful church home; I do not stress over which denomination is His chosen favorite; and I no longer worry over what I must do to enter heaven. I’ve learned that it is not about head knowledge and doctrinal arguments. It’s about a heart relationship with my Creator, my Father, my LORD and Friend. And, by the way, I am already seated with Him in the heavenly places, because in Christ, I am secure!
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