Faith Hope Love … and the right focus

I have faith that God will answer my prayers.  I enjoy loving on the people I have been praying for, and it is joy that God fills me with His love to pour out.  I have hope that prayers will be answered and fruition will be found.

But faith and hope aren’t words you use about things you can read on the side of a cereal box.   Those are words you use about things you cannot see, cannot touch, cannot taste.  You have to endure with patience and *keep* on being faithful and hopeful, keeping your eyes and focus on God – because focusing on the task at hand will kill your hope and set your faith in yourself and not on God.

If there was a prescription for praying for something in God’s will, every Christian on the planet would have a list.  We’d pray down our lists of good things for others, loving our neighbors.  Before long, we’d all end up praying for things like broken nails, because world peace and full tummies and righteousness?  Check.

But it doesn’t work that way.  Spiritual things *don’t* work that way, they rarely work in a linear easy-to-understand cause-and-effect kind of way.  We know that the prayer of a righteous person avails much, and that what we ask in Jesus’ name we will get (assuming it is in His will).  But there is a list of exceptions and free will has some odd mitigating factors.  (I don’t know how free will vs. God’s will works either, and no, neither does your theologian.  They have theories.  I know the theories, I just don’t know which one is true – if any).

No formula.  And we’re blind to the spiritual world.  We don’t know when our prayers have been answered, just are in queue to show up on our doorstep.  We have to have faith, hope, and a lot of patience!

I had some crazy stuff happen over the last couple of days.  Prayers were answered in a powerful way, and I was filled with joy.  Then I allowed myself to be distracted from my joy in the answering of prayer, in the glory of God, because of the crazy.  Taking my eyes from Creator to created.  -shakes head ruefully-

In our participation in God’s work, we can feel like – because we’re working – we should focus on our work.  Either to work harder or to criticize it or to be impressed by it.  It’s an abiding temptation.   I confess that to you – in all areas of my life!  “Just do it” and “abide” and “rest” – that’s hard.  To work but to look not at my work or the work to be done, just to chill out and do what’s placed in front of me to do and not worry about the consequences – good or ill.

Maybe it’s hard to look at God because He’s God.  Infinite and glorious, Light incarnate… all we do is drop our jaws and stare.  Overwhelmed, we pull away to look at ourselves, because we know what to “do” with ourselves.  But the things we know how to do with ourselves, in criticizing and praising our own performances, those aren’t from God.  That’s how the World decides what’s good work and what isn’t.

Because I don’t know how things work in the invisible, I focus on my own efforts in the visible.  But that’s never the answer.  The answer is to focus on God, to praise and glorify Him, to trust in His perfect love, and to get on with the work of the moment, whatever that is.  No worries, no fears, just … do what is next and get on with it.


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