Sunday, March 20, 2016

Hey God,

Friday I was in a meeting and before we went into the info being shared it began with a reminder of a few things. When coming to a decision making time we often believe that there are only two options. Option 1 - Speak up and turn a powerful person into a sworn enemy or Option 2 - Suffer in silence and make a bad decision with bad consequences. Then we were told that those weren’t the only two options. We could be 100% honest and at the same time 100% respectful. Some very edifying statements were made and before we even started discussing I felt like I was attending a formal event because formal events are often full of words and sayings that sound nice but maybe we don’t live out in life actually believing in. The thing is these statements were true and it was a great reminder to start the meeting with.

The next day I started reading Just Courage. The first chapter starts out with this: Christians seem to have the amazing ability to say the most wonderful things without actually believing them.          ….disturbing was the list of things that Christians, like me, actually say-like, blessed are the poor and humble; it’s better to give than receive; judge not, lest you be judged; love your neighbor as yourself, etc.-and examining, one by one, how differently I would live my life if I actually believed such things. As (he) concluded, “The sayings of Christ co-exist passively in their minds, producing hardly any effect beyond what is caused by mere listening to words so amiable and bland.” Do you ever have a conversation with somebody and hear one of those sayings? Do you ever sit in a church service or at a family meal and listen to a prayer and the words that are being said. The prayers can sometimes be lengthily and full of sayings that we’ve heard a million times. I think that’s something that we can all relate to. I can really relate to it.

I was home for just three short weeks in January and February to attend a friends wedding, see family and some of my close friends. The time was short and I didn’t get to see as many people as I would have liked but there’s one moment that I’d like to share with you. One of my closest friends, Ryan; it was his wedding day and before the ceremony started his groomsmen I gathered around him put our hands on him and supported him in prayer, prayed for the ceremony, the day and the many many years that the marriage will glorify the Lord. It was one of the more memorable parts of my trip. There were ten or more people all huddled around him, each knowing Ryan in a different form; Grandfather, father, cousin, long time friend, soon to be father-n-law & brother-n-law. That’s one reason I love weddings so much; Each person present represents a shaping factor in the marriage. We become the people we surround ourselves with. Anyway back to the story. There we were, the guys, praying for Ryan’s marriage and our prayers reflected the many ways that we know him. When I started praying I said “Hey God, thanks for this day to serve...” It’s how I start the prayers I lead in the Food Service devotions, “Hey God, thanks for another day to serve you here on the Africa Mercy.” Right in that moment I realized that I had gone to my default prayer start. This was a wedding, a once in a lifetime event. I had traveled across the world to be there’d support him and there I was using a default prayer. Then I quickly adapted and said, “ to serve you on this day that Ryan and Mickel are getting married…” 

Later on I was a bit aggravated that I had gone to that default and it reminded me that need to be a bit more authentic in my prayers and not use the cookie-cutter sayings that become a habit. But more than that it made me reflect on what I had made a habit of saying, “thanks for another day to serve you”. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with that at all. What else are we here on Earth to do? The Westminster Shorter Catechism Question 1 says "Man’s chief end is to glorify God, and to enjoy him forever.” John Piper, reformed Baptist pastor, suggested that this would be more correct as “ to glorify God by enjoying him forever. When I made it back to the ship, on a Tuesday morning a couple weeks after the wedding when I was doing the Food Services devotions, I started my prayer “Hey God, thanks for another day to serve you here on the Africa Mercy.” Why? Why did I go back to the default prayer? Because it’s true. I pray that to God and I pray over our team that we would use our gifts and talents to glorify God, strengthen each others weaknesses and serve God as we’re chopping vegetables, making drinks, cooking soups and greeting people coming through the food lines. That as we’re doing each of our tasks that people wouldn’t see the task but see us as serving God.