Tuesday, January 1, 2008

God, I Don't Want to Throw Up

Did you ever pray the "God, I don't want to throw up" prayer? Well, I did. Many times... And my guess is that you did as well. When I was in grade school it went something like this:

Self-talk: "Oh no. It hurts... Errr.... I hate this."

Self-talk: "My brother said that he just thinks himself out of not throwing up... I'll try that and just relax."

Self-talk: "There we go... Calm, deep breaths. It'll be alright. It'll pass."

(moments later)

Self-talk: "Ugh. It's getting worse. Quick, think of something!"

Prayer: "God, I think I might throw up. But you see, I don't
want to. You don't want to see me like his either! I hate throwing up. It's painful, it's smelly and it gets up my nose. I would rather die. But I'm young, so you know I don't really mean that. You get my point, right?

God, it's just that... I don't want to throw up. I know you can do it, so if you
get me out of this (just his once), I'll never do a bad thing ever
again. Ohhhhh.... (groan)"

(moments later)

Self-talk: "Breathe... It's working... Oh, there we go... It's going away. It's going to be ok. I'll just sit here a bit."


The deed was done... The evening's dinner was everywhere.

Prayer: "God, I just threw up. What's up with that? What more could I have done to get out of this? I promised that I wouldn't do a bad thing again..."

And naturally, the night would continue until my illness its course... Crazy kid.

I didn't really feel that I had done anything wrong to warrant my plight - I did know that it was just the flu, but I did feel that I had to bargain with God so that He might be moved to supernaturally heal me and I would be sparred my most-hated wintertime drama. I thought that because there was no apparent action on His part by my simply asking, I needed to pull out the cards and see which ones He was willing to trade.

Despite that humorous childhood example, I really did believe, as I do more-so now, that God really can heal sickness and that even if He chooses not to, that it's only for good. But especially, though He may not heal, His peace will be our strength through it all. I really do believe that He wants good for us more than we can realize - and that His good is usually not the "simple fix" that we crave so much. After all, He is the "Prince of Peace" and we are His children.

I suppose what we learn as we grow up and experience events far greater than the winter flu, is that the the peace of God really is beyond our understanding. We find that His peace is less about our circumstances and more about our trust in Him. It is more about what we don't see, than what we can. We learn that His peace, as with all His attributes is complete, unchanging, irrevocably steadfast because it is bound to Himself and to us if we would simply trust His unchanging Word.

Christ's example is for us as He prays in Luke 22:42: "Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done." Who desires greater things for a son than his father? Surely our Father will bring about the best in, for and through us and we can't bargain to gain more favor or more love. Though the wind sometimes rages, He can calm the storm, and in the times when He doesn't, His grace will be sufficient.

Jesus calls Himself, "The Wonderful Counselor, the Mighty God, the Everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace." Today, be encouraged.

Dayenu - It Would Have Been Enough

It's the beginning of a new year and I'm not sure where the last one went! I remember some highs and some lows, some great times and some struggles. But looking back we're able to reflect on how God has taken care of us.

I sometimes get caught in the "have I done enough?", "am I doing enough?" struggle of Christian life. I reflect on what I have (or have not) accomplished and begin self-comparing, picking apart, measuring, assessing.... But I'm certain that no matter how much I have done or can do I have never done and can never do "enough" to afford the riches of God's mercy. And really, it's rather comforting that my God always "outdoes" me. He always does more. He always has, and I'm certain that He always will.

Times of reflection draw to mind the Hebrew song, "Dayenu" - closely translated, "it would have been enough." What I love most about that song is that it so clearly speaks of God's over-abundance of mercy and grace - sung about a people who consistently turned away from Him. Perhaps reflecting on the past year is a good time to recite a few stanzas of that song. You can then read a full explanation here.

"If He had brought us out of Egypt
and had not carried out judgments against them
- It would have been enough

If He had carried out judgments against them
and not against their idols
- It would have been enough

If He had destroyed their idols
and had not smitten their first-born
- It would have been enough

If He had smitten their first born
and not given us their wealth
- It would have been enough

If He had given us their wealth
and not split the sea for us
- It would have been enough


If He had brought us in to the land of Israel
and not given us the Holy Temple
- It would have been enough "

Looking back over one short year versus thousands of God's faithful care described in the Bible has a way of instilling hope for the coming years and humble appreciation for the past. If God had just given us the basic things of life over this past year and not blessed us with abundance, it would have been enough - and more than deserved!

It's amazing. God's faithfulness and care is always more than enough, always beyond what we need, always beyond what we can ask or think and so much more than we could ever earn. I don't know what's in store for 2008, but I'm sure of this: I have no idea what God can and wants to do. So I'm strapping in: I think I'm in for an awesome ride!

Happy New Year!