We start the week wrought with prayer needs.
- Our friends on the Texas gulf coast
- The friend or family member diagnosed with cancer
- The wayward loved one
- You name it
And yet, our nature may want to focus on self.
- Getting through another Monday at work
- Obtaining The new thing or situation we want
- Receiving The attention or recognition we seek
- You name it
A focus on self limits prayer.
It’s the driving force behind our anxiety, our angst and our anger.
It’s a distraction to keep us off balance with God’s purpose, disengaged with God’s people, and out of step with God’s will.
If our attention on self increases while our relating to God decreases, we fall straight into the hole of ineffectiveness for God and what He has for us to do.
This is not to downplay suffering and situations arising in our lives that cause us to pray continually about our circumstances. There is nothing wrong with praying for our own situations.
But do we pray enough for others? We say we will. Social media overflows with promises and declarations of prayer. But does it really happen and if so, what does that look like?
Do we spend 10 minutes? 1 minute? Or do we type it and forget it as the next prayer request comes along? Or does the keyboard playing cat video completely push the promise to pray from memory?
Intentionality is our friend when it comes to praying for others. What can this look like?
I admit I’m a beach snob. I’ll drive thousands of miles to enjoy white sand and turquoise water. That’s why I’m surprised it took the Texas coast to give me the better picture of God’s daily provision.
My family vacationed at a Texas beach this summer. I hadn’t seen the Texas coast in the light of day since childhood. Other than a shorter drive and water more brown than what I’m used to, I didn’t know what to expect. Having access to a private beach afforded us no crowds, well-groomed sand, and plenty of seashells for my five-year-old daughter to find. Breathing the salt air, stepping into the pushing waves, and searching the sandbar for crabs, I had to stop and wonder if we were really still in Texas. Gratitude toward God for this valuable family time came easy.
A raised, wooden boardwalk connected the condo property to the beach over several hundred yards of tangled, green marsh grass. The grass looked like a perfect place for something slithery to hide and I was glad to see the boardwalk ran the full length. The sign adjacent to the fenced off area before the boardwalk read, “Do Not Enter-Rattlesnake Habitat”.
As our footsteps creaked over the boardwalk, I looked below into that expanse of green, expecting to see or hear a rattlesnake, but to no avail. One morning as the wind picked up, I did see a couple of floating tubes caught up in a gust and sent into the marsh. I asked a security guard if anybody ever went in to retrieve lost items. He chuckled and said, “Nobody smart.”
I could spend all day swimming. I mean it. All day.
So imagine how much fun it is to see my 5½ year-old-daughter share the same enthusiasm. But, this summer is a little different.
Gone are the safety of the arm floaties and jumping into the water into my arms because I promised to catch her.
It’s the summer for her to learn how to swim.
My wife and I took a gamble on whether our daughter would learn to swim from me. I learned from my mom back in the day and I liked the idea of keeping that tradition rolling. However, would she take instruction from swim coach Daddy?
YES. Several weeks in, it’s a joy to see her progress. Reaching, slicing the water with her hand and pulling the water back while she kicks her feet reminds me of how many times we’ve talked about it.
But as she continues to move forward in the water and swimming more confidently and competently, I think this whole process had more to do with God revealing to me a few things about my relationship with Him.
I love how God teaches lessons through water.
We know about passing through the Jordan, the Red Sea and walking on the Sea of Galilee. We know the story of the woman at the well and many other stories and illustrations.
Water represents cleansing, consecration, new life and refreshing throughout the Bible.
Equipped or not, I signed up for Man Day.
I joined over 70 men gathered at our church to eat breakfast and worship before setting off to finish repairs and maintenance on homes in the community. It’s a day I’m glad I didn’t miss. The camaraderie, spending a whole day outside in perfect weather and enjoying the thread of serving that weaved through the whole day proved rich.
I almost let myself miss it.
You May Not Think So
I like to guard Saturdays with my family. It’s my favorite time. Plus, I’m not a rah-rah kind of guy and large group activities aren’t my favorite.
But the real reason, I have a longstanding feud with tools. I really enjoy the way they look when they are organized in the garage but I don’t necessarily like how they feel in my hand, especially when dealing with the millionth stripped bolt. Every triumph I’ve had with tools I’ve celebrated. Every frustration I’ve had with tools awakens the thought, “Why didn’t I ask somebody to teach me this years ago?” Needless to say, I’ve grown very fond of YouTube instructional videos.
I joked with someone the night before how I was going to bring my Swiss army style all-purpose pocket tool because that was the only tool I felt comfortable with.
The next morning, when I found out my team’s marching orders to paint a house, I breathed easy knowing nobody would depend on me to make compound cuts on a miter saw.
So, paint we did. Getting to know the guys on my team a little better, it became obvious, each one could go number one in a Man Day draft for tool expertise.
This was the A-Team. You know, the type of guys with the tools perfectly arranged in their garage and with knowledge of every nut and bolt they own? Each of them could host their own YouTube fix-it channel. Not only did they know what to do, they knew what to do with ease. But what happens when we can’t rely on our own experience?
I’m thinking about God’s best lately. What does it look like for a believer in Jesus Christ? If we are encountering God and experiencing His best for us, do we continue to have a gnawing sense of dissatisfaction with who we are, where we are or what we are doing in our present state? When things get complex, sometimes I like to revert to simpler times when things just seemed to make sense, honesty didn’t have a filter or agenda and I could see things plain as day. In many cases, I’m brought back to Denver.
Some of my favorite memories of summer in Denver have to do with an amazing amusement park just down the road from my grandmother’s house. There was no place like Elitch Gardens (Elitch’s for those in the know) for a kid during summer vacation in Denver. The Splinter, the Wildcat, Mr. Twister, all of these rides guaranteed great fun and cemented my love for roller coasters.
It made a mark on me and I made a mark on it for a long time, making sure to stick a piece of gum to the portion of the log ride where every kid and immature adult seemed to leave offerings. For me and many other North Denver kids, Elitch’s had no equal; even though Lakeside Amusement Park tried it’s best, for a cheaper price.
You know those generic/store brands posing as your favorite beverage, for example, Dr. K instead of Dr. Pepper or Green Lightning instead of Mountain Dew? That was Lakeside. I couldn’t always afford admission to Elitch’s, so I spent more time at Lakeside wishing I was at Elitch’s, for one reason in particular.