I hate this kind of post. I’m talking about this one…the one I am about to write. I am going to have to be real, honest, and publicly humbled. Great. However, it’s long overdue.
God has been speaking to me and I haven’t been listening. I will joyfully allow Him to hold the talking stick when He’s got words of encouragement, surprise gifts for me to unwrap, or Kumbaya feelings. But, when the conversation gets serious…and He starts to hold me accountable…I reach across the drum circle, yank that stick from His hands, and walk away from the campfire muttering, “jerk…”.
Here I am, blogger of “good things found beneath the surface of life’s dirt”, and I have to confess I’ve left the search party. Lately, I haven’t been seeking anything out, let alone God. And, therefore, no joy resides, at least in the meatiness of life. I’m ‘happy’ in the midst of encouragement, blessings, and the occasional euphoria. But let’s face it, there is so much more to life than what we and others see on the surface.
Our lives are deep, deep gardens filled with layers and layers of soil. Layers and layers of hurt. Layers and layers of history. And sometimes, breaking out of that dirt, fertilized and fueled by our pasts, are weeds and thorns. The garden hasn’t been tended, planting of good seed has been abandoned, and a story-rich soil cultivates an unwanted crop.
I haven’t been proactively planting. I haven’t been talking to the Gardener about His plans, His timing, or His fruit.
The message He has had for me, through 3 distinct people (so far…it’ll probably take more to get it through my thick skull) is that He wants me to ask Him. He doesn’t just want me to ask, He wants me to ask boldly. He wants me to come, with no apprehension, full of reckless abandon. He wants me to demand better…not of others, not of myself, but of Him.
The goal here is not to boldly demand material possessions, change in circumstance or people, or a surface level yield. He wants me to demand the soil be tilled, the weeds be pulled, new seed be sown, and the entire make-up of the garden restored and redefined. It’s similar to a masterful chef who desires his patrons to demand the finest meal. It’s a welcomed request, because it’s what the cook does best. God is in the business of redeeming, restoring, and rebuilding. It’s what He does best, and He wants me to demand it. He wants to give me a new vision for this season’s harvest.
Unfortunately, right now I don’t want to ask Him for assistance in the field, I don’t even want to talk. Without confidence in His ability to answer those bold kind of prayers, we don’t pray. Without confidence in God’s character, we don’t ask. Without confidence in His ability to do the unthinkable (in our hearts and the hearts of others), we resign to living among the weeds. We resign to defeat among the thorns in our sides. We scrap to find sustenance among the trash. All while God is reminding us He is right there, tools in hand, wanting to do some serious work.
He isn’t the hired laborer, though.
I recently watched a documentary on organic farming. (I know…exciting.) The filmmaker follows her own boyfriend as he describes his passion for the most refreshing snap peas and the most flavorful carrots. While she never imagined living on a farm, his dream becomes contagious and she is swept up in his vision and plan for amazing produce. He demands better than tasteless frozen veggies and out-of-season tomatoes shipped nationwide. The days are promised to be long and hard, especially without heavy machinery or pesticides. Everything is to be done by hand, from pulling weeds to washing away invasive bugs. The expenses and lack of reliable income guarantee financial strain and stress. But the vision he casts for a healthy cornucopia of rich and fragrant food makes the sacrifices of time and wealth worth it.
In the same way, the great Gardener wants to dream with us. He wants us to be swept up in the vision He casts. He, himself, demands better for us. He promises to do the grunt work and share the bounty. If we aren’t at least talking to Him, how are we to catch wind of His passion? How are we to even hear that a better crop is possible? How do we even know what to boldly ask for?
I am currently working on a second book. And of course, it’s supposed be about all of this: this stuff I’m struggling to understand and trust. It’s about the ability of God to cultivate gardens full of life out of what seems barren. As I look through my notes, God’s scripture and my own words have been incredibly convicting. The truths run like clear brooks cutting through my rigid and dusty heart. He’s preparing my soul’s soil. He doesn’t promise that I will like it. I might have to sacrifice certain comforts for a table full of good. He is chipping away at the parts of my dry creek bed that stand in the way of His raging waters of provision…even when I’m not asking. Those small banks of my soul don’t stand a chance against His flood of mercy, grace, and love.
So, here’s my bold prayer. Though it may seem simplistic and small, it feels for me as though I’m asking mountains to move:
Father, help me to boldly pray. Cast unto me Your vision.
In Jesus’ name,