I’m waiting outside for a friend to get done grocery shopping, and doing some “homework” (a Bible study) that I can’t seem to make myself to do at home. Yes, I’m referring to the “D” word, discipline! The book is called Too Busy Not To Pray, by Bill Hybels, and it was chosen by a friend of mine for three of us to study together.. We weren’t able to finish the study, but I determined that I wanted to finish the book. As I said, I am not good at disciplining myself to do a number of things, including Bible study and prayer. So this book is perfect for me!
So, I was reading along in the chapter called “Mountain Moving Prayer,” and I had a number of “EUREKA!” moments. Now a EUREKA! is “a cry of joy or satisfaction when one finds or discovers something.” (For its origin, see Wikipedia, Eureka. I LOVE that word!)
One of my “Eureka!” moments was when I was reading a story Mr. Hybels related about speaking to a ginormous group of people in India. We’re talking twenty or thirty thousand. Hybels had been a secondary speaker on previous nights. But this time, he was the main speaker, responsible for leading the group to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ. The enormity of the task hit him right where he lived, and a tremendous fear overtook him. I sure could relate to some of his feelings. With my anxiety, I’m overwhelmed with having to talk to one person at a time, never mind 30,000!
Hybels was praying, but in his terror, he could not focus his thoughts beyond his panic.
In the midst of his trying to get hold of himself, a song was sung, just before he was to go on stage. It was (“coincidentally”) my favorite song. And God used it to change his heart:
Great is thy faithfulness, O God my Father;
there is no shadow of turning with thee;
thou changest not, thy compassions, they fail not;
as thou hast been thou forever will be.
Great is thy faithfulness! Great is thy faithfulness!
Morning by morning new mercies I see;
all I have needed thy hand hath provided;
great is thy faithfulness, Lord, unto me …(Words: Thomas O. Chisholm; Music: William M. Runyan)
God used the song to change Hybels’ heart, and he was moved to pray in a very different way. This time, recognizing his own insufficiency, he remembered the sufficiency of the One of Whom he was asked to preach!
I’m praying to the Creator of the world, the King of the universe, the all-powerful, all-knowing, all-faithful God. I’m praying to the God who made the mountains and who can move them if necessary. I’m praying to the God who has always been faithful to me, who has never let me down no matter how frightened I was or how difficult the situation looked. I’m praying to a God who wants to bear fruit through me, and I am going to trust that he is going to use me tonight. Not because of who I am, but because of who he is. He is faithful. (p. 81)
How powerful a prayer! How mightily God answered his prayer! After he spoke, thousands came forward to receive Christ! And Hybels knew it was not because of anything he’d done. It was the Lord working through him, to Whom, and of Whom, he had prayed!
This chapter was tremendous. Hybels also pointed out the story in Joshua Chapter 3, where the priests’ obedience led to their stepping out in faith, to cross the Jordan when it was high and raging. The priests stepped out first. The fruit of their faith was manifested by that first step – and everyone walked across dry ground to the other side.
That phrase, “dry ground,” kind of grabbed my attention. Here the priests and the Israelites crossed the Jordan over dry ground. In the same way, the Red Sea was parted for Moses and the children of Israel. Just think of the 40 years in the desert! Talk about dry ground! You think God wasn’t working on their hearts? Even Jonah was spit out of a big fish, and onto dry ground!
Are you in the big fish
Are you sitting in the belly of a world gone mad
Have you turned your back on His wish,
His will for your life, have you made Him sad
Do you want to get out of the big fish
Listen to God and follow His plan
And you won’t be part of the main dish
He’ll spit you out on to dry land(FFH, “Big Fish”)
There are so many more examples of faith in the Bible! There’s the story of David and Goliath, where David’s faith in God is bigger than that of all the great warriors! There’s the faith and courage of Caleb and Joshua, when God sends them to investigate the promised land. “WHAT giants?” they said. “WHAT cities? Let’s go!” And they knew that God was the one Who would have the victory!
I don’t know about you, but my faith is nowhere near that strong. Talk about dry land! Some of us think if we’re Christian, we must be doing something wrong if we suffer from certain conditions. We aren’t praying right, we’ve made God mad, we’re more sinful than the next guy. But we can suffer any number of human conditions: pain, mental illness, diseases of the body that are seen and unseen. And these can be aggravated by the devil’s desire to to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. We’re tapped out, and vulnerable. Our pain is so great. We have exhausted our strength. What if we’re in need of material things? What of next week, when there’s no paycheck? These are the days we want to give up. And sometimes, we do need to root out sin. It can seem overwhelming. These are the days we can see God’s desires for us, and we cower, saying, “I just can’t do this anymore!”
But that’s the problem, I guess. My faith is in my own self. My strength. My resources. But as the song says, all I have needed thy hand hath provided. Strength. Resources for another day. Hope. A friend who shows up at just the right moment. As Hybels prayed, my faith needs to be in the mountain mover.
My God is a mountain mover
My God’s gonna make a way
Can’t count all the time He’s proven
We can trust him just have faith
Take a hopeless situation
Watch Him turn it all around
Nothing is impossible
I can’t hold back I’ve gotta shout
My God, My God, My God
Is a mountain mover …
Does this mean instant victory? Does this mean my troubles just vanish like a puff of smoke? How I wish! But victory can take a number of forms. Can I say no to the things that will hurt me? Do I have the courage to ask for help? Can I venture out where God wants me today? Can I just plain be obedient and read my Bible? It may not seem like much, but even getting dressed and showing up is a huge victory on some days.
So I can’t use my illness as an excuse. But I also can’t compare myself and the tasks before me to those of other people. God made me the way that I am, gave me what I have. He knows the reason for all of it. So “I will praise thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made: marvellous are thy works; and that my soul knoweth right well.” (Psalm 139:14)