Before going to bed I read Oswald Chambers’ devotional on “Friendship with God” which I will copy and paste further below. Although I read that one before and would believe it was true, I always felt that there was something missing. God who does neither act logically nor chronically as we might like it, revealed the missing piece to me a few hours before I would read this devotional.
Yesterday as I was on another prayer walk, I felt rather numb. My heart was saddened and my mental condition was pretty low, too. Having prayed since July last year for my teeth’s situation to improve, God never gave me a clear answer, instead, my situation got worse and worse. Was it only one tooth that has been aching since July 2016, last week even six teeth caused me more and more pains. Indeed, I can hardly count how often I would find myself at the dentist since then. The dentist really tried everything he could to help me, however, even a visit at the oral surgeon did not seem to be that promising, either. I often thought, ‘There must be something wrong here….’ Meanwhile I sense I am in a similar situation this woman we meet in the Bible had been in, too.
And behold, a woman who had suffered from a discharge of blood for twelve years came up behind him and touched the fringe of his garment, for she said to herself, “If I only touch his garment, I will be made well.” Jesus turned, and seeing her he said, “Take heart, daughter; your faith has made you well.” And instantly the woman was made well. (Mt 9:20-22 ESV)
To be honest, I do not have this kind of faith this woman had been given by God back then. It is so clear to me that there is nothing inside me that can change this little-to-none-faith into the faith of Jesus Christ. Nothing!!
But back on topic. On Sunday in the afternoon, as usual I headed to the “Alte Veste” Tower in Zirndorf. Having arrived there, I went slowly and halfheartedly upstairs (169 stairs, as always). On top of the tower the wind was blowing and the sky was all gray. As I had tried before, I was seeking a deeper connection with God which has been quite difficult lately since my pains have been very distracting. At that moment I suddenly realized that God had pointed me several times to a certain number lately, even just now as I had passed a car at the bottom of the tower. I perceived that there was the number 37 on its license plate. What a strange number I thought before… The only thing that immediately came to my mind was that my father was born in 1937. Nonetheless, as I had become more curious yesterday, I checked it on the internet of my cell phone. Biblical numerics (http://asis.com/users/stag/numbtabl.html) told me that # 37 stands for “The word of our Father”.
‘Interesting’, I thought, not sure what to do with this information yet. ‘Isn’t Jesus the Word of our Father?’ I wondered. As I was discouraged due to a lack of an immediate answer from God, I wanted to give up on it and drop my thoughts about it, too. But God said, “Wait! I’ll show you what I mean.” Not that convinced that something would really happen, I leaned my elbows on the stony railing around the tower, watching some chickadees that were flying from one top of a tree to another. Suddenly I got aware of a man whom I had met in the tower a few minutes before. I recalled that he had been on his way downstairs with his small son on his shoulders, explaining him what they could see from the windows in the tower. Now they were standing before the entrance door of the restaurant. I observed that this small boy was hellbent on opening the door all by himself. Yet this big and heavy wooden door could not be opened by him. As much as he tried, the door remained closed.
I believe this little boy had the will, the idea and plan, and I assume the feeling that he could open the door, too. Yet he could not! He was not strong enough nor was he able to reach the door opener with his short arms. Finally, his father who stood behind him cautiously pushed the door open so that this boy and he behind him could enter the restaurant.
I understood immediately that it is God who opens the door and answers our prayers. Also, nobody can enter the kingdom of God but by His grace. It is never our own doing, our trying hard and struggling that opens a door that is too heavy for us! It is God Himself who draws us closer to His heart so that we want to get to know Him as He really is, not as our anxious and sorrowful hearts might suspect Him to be when we realize that He did not (immediately) listen to our pleas. With these thoughts that everything happens by God’s grace alone in mind, I dare to paste Oswald Chambers’ insightful devotional here now, eventually.
Shall I hide from Abraham what I am doing…? —Genesis 18:1
The Delights of His Friendship. Genesis 18 brings out the delight of true friendship with God, as compared with simply feeling His presence occasionally in prayer. This friendship means being so intimately in touch with God that you never even need to ask Him to show you His will. It is evidence of a level of intimacy which confirms that you are nearing the final stage of your discipline in the life of faith. When you have a right-standing relationship with God, you have a life of freedom, liberty, and delight; you are God’s will. And all of your commonsense decisions are actually His will for you, unless you sense a feeling of restraint brought on by a check in your spirit. You are free to make decisions in the light of a perfect and delightful friendship with God, knowing that if your decisions are wrong He will lovingly produce that sense of restraint. Once he does, you must stop immediately.
The Difficulties of His Friendship. Why did Abraham stop praying when he did? He stopped because he still was lacking the level of intimacy in his relationship with God, which would enable him boldly to continue on with the Lord in prayer until his desire was granted. Whenever we stop short of our true desire in prayer and say, “Well, I don’t know, maybe this is not God’s will,” then we still have another level to go. It shows that we are not as intimately acquainted with God as Jesus was, and as Jesus would have us to be— “…that they may be one just as We are one…” (John 17:22). Think of the last thing you prayed about— were you devoted to your desire or to God? Was your determination to get some gift of the Spirit for yourself or to get to God? “For your Father knows the things you have need of before you ask Him” (Matthew 6:8). The reason for asking is so you may get to know God better. “Delight yourself also in the Lord, and He shall give you the desires of your heart” (Psalm 37:4). We should keep praying to get a perfect understanding of God Himself.
May we never fall prey to the error that we would be able to seek God on our own apart from His blessings! Our human nature is not that way. When we are sick and ask God to help us, there is nothing wrong about it because it is biblical at that (see James 5:16). However, I doubt that there is only one human being apart from Jesus Christ who automatically searches for God Himself in situations where everything which is good has been eclipsed for a certain time. I also think the story of Job can teach us a lot here. Nonetheless, dear reader, if you have come to know me a bit, 😉 I feel I need to issue a caveat at the end of this article as well. Please, be cautious with CIC, that is, Christians in charge, 🙂 who seek God’s blessings and try to get hold of them without being changed into Christ’s image through the cross themselves! Let me finish with apostle Paul’s words of admonition here.
“I appeal to you, brothers, to watch out for those who cause divisions and create obstacles contrary to the doctrine that you have been taught; avoid them. For such persons do not serve our Lord Christ, but their own appetites, and by smooth talk and flattery they deceive the hearts of the naive. For your obedience is known to all, so that I rejoice over you, but I want you to be wise as to what is good and innocent as to what is evil. The God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you.” (Rom 16:17-20 ESV)