Insist on Good
At the beginning of this series, we talked about the importance of two questions: "how big is your God?" and "how worthy are you?” How are you coming with your answers?
Yes, the Lord works in mysterious ways. Yes, God has a better idea than you do. We should be open to new opportunities and greater demonstrations. We know that. But we also know that, in a different sense, there are no surprises. Here’s the deal: nobody can experience miracles bigger than their conception of God. Your paradigm dictates your experience, every time.
Prayer is an exploration of the distance between God and our ideas about God. The name of the game is pushing past the latter and into an authentic openness to the Former. When you pray, think about your hopes and dreams, your issues and challenges, all your beautiful growing opportunities, and ask yourself this question: "What does God think about this?" Knowing that God loves you unconditionally and without limits, but also that nothing can stop God, what do you think the answer might be? The perspective can be liberating.
When we pray, things happen. Doors open. We grow. Life changes. That’s where the prayer process stops for a lot of people, but there’s a lot more to the story. Let’s not just pray for change. Let’s pray to handle the changes in peace and on purpose. After all, life has a way of asking the "do you mean it?" question. Something happens when some new, empowering, beautiful thoughts and feelings get thrown into the mix with some old, limiting, silly beliefs.
But the LORD hardened Pharaoh's heart, and He did not let the sons of Israel go. (Exodus 10:20, NASB)
What’s going on here? It’s possible to read about God hardening Pharaoh’s heart here (and in Exodus 7:3, 9:12, and 10:27!) and walk away with some pretty odd ideas about God. Those ideas don’t match what we’ve read or talked about elsewhere, though. Most importantly, they don’t match what we know in our hearts. But there’s another way to read these passages.
God is not Machiavellian. He‘s not in the business of making the bad guys even worse for the sake of a good story. There’s no room for villains in God’s universe, anyhow. Our Father. There aren’t good people and bad people, there’s just people - loved, loving, here to grow. This isn’t a soap opera.
You can take somebody to Disney World, but if they’ve decided to have a bad time, they will. They’ll have even less fun than if you’d have left them at home. You can tell them how happy you are about your new diet, but if they have chosen a self-esteem paradigm wrapped up in ego and competition, they’ll just get angry with you. If a person has a limited consciousness of God and/or self, confronting them with truth, beauty, love, or anything else that’s unlimited might just throw new light on the limitations of their worldview. There are a lot of ways to respond to that revelation; we know what Pharaoh did.
And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from evil. (Matthew 6:13, NASB)
God is all there is. We don’t believe in an evil power, presence, or force. But we do believe in freedom, which means we believe in the possibility of dumb choices, faulty perception, and limiting beliefs. Let’s pray to stay on track.
When we pray for change, let’s be ready to handle it with grace. Let’s not be tempted, by ego, pettiness, or fear, to go back to the old ways of thinking and acting. Let’s keep our hearts supple.