True confession: I don’t want to write this. I don’t even want to think about it anymore, but the more I put it off the louder God speaks to me about it and the more discomfort I feel.
In all honesty, this is still a raw issue that I’m coping with. This is something that I’ve been wrestling with for awhile.
I’ve always been one to encourage others by telling them “sometimes it has to get worse before it gets better”. I’ve even spoken to a group of women about how “A breakdown leads to a breakthrough”. God has to get to us to the end of ourselves sometimes in order to reach us.
The other message I’ve been wearing lately is the principle of sewing and reaping. The idea that there are natural consequences for our actions, and we must allow people to experience these with out interfering.
But the messages above have been tainted, sweet friends. Tainted by my disgust for circumstances beyond my control, tainted by my desire for people to get what they deserve and suffer the consequences of their actions.
Recently, God gave me a heart check one morning while praying.
” Stephanie, you keep saying that you want my will to be done and that you want your dad to hit rock bottom so he has no choice but to look up, but does part of you want your dad to pay for what he has done to you, your mom and your family?”
Gulp. Yes. My “please let him experience the consequences of his actions” had really become a sweetened version of I want him to get what he deserves. I want him to pay for what he’s done so he realizes what he did.
I have been harboring resentment and bitterness towards him. So many choices that he willingly made to swiftly destroy what progress he made to becoming a better man. He was the kind of man that I was proud to call my dad because he fought for his sobriety and had shown strength I never imagined and with a blink of an eye, all of that was gone. He chose to leave all of that behind for a life I didn’t understand (and still don’t)
Upon further introspection, that bitterness had leaked into my prayers. I didn’t pray for my dad to be rescued or be delivered, I prayed that God would bring about a catastrophe that would wake him up and set him on the right course.
That bitterness also leaked into my prayer requests to others, you know that prayer that you are so sick of praying and asking people for that you just gloss over it instead?
” And for my dad, still in the same situation, I guess just pray that God’s will be done in his life”.
With all the bitterness and hurt in my heart, there’s little to no room to extend grace and compassion to my dad. Just hurt on top of hurt on top of anger.
In the stillness of prayer God asked me to pray with compassion and ask for mercy for my dad, he challenged me to pray with a heart of compassion and love and grace.
To not wish harm on him so that he could feel the weight of all of his choices, but actually to pray for God to protect him and spare him. To pray that God intervenes to gently lead him back to the path that he wandered from.
This all comes down to a heart issue. I can think of one example in the bible in which someone interceded on the behalf of others, asking for God to spare them.
In the book of Exodus, we see the story of Moses and the golden calf. Basically when God becomes furious with the Israelites for building an idol and threatens to destroy them. Moses comes back to the Lord with this:
“Lord,” he said, “why should your anger burn against your people, whom you brought out of Egypt with great power and a mighty hand? Why should the Egyptians say, ‘It was with evil intent that he brought them out, to kill them in the mountains and to wipe them off the face of the earth’? Turn from your fierce anger; relent and do not bring disaster on your people.
Remember your servants Abraham, Isaac and Israel, to whom you swore by your own self: ‘I will make your descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and I will give your descendants all this land I promised them, and it will be their inheritance forever.’” Exodus 32:11-13
And what exactly happened after Moses prayed on their behalf, asking God to spare them and instead remember his faithful servants…
Then the Lord relented and did not bring on his people the disaster he had threatened. Exodus 32:14
Now I’m not saying that praying for mercy and compassion will change God’s mind, prayer doesn’t work like that. But the nature of Jesus that lives inside of us is to have mercy and compassion for others, not to wait for people to get what they have coming to them.
The sinful lady who wiped Jesus’ feet, had a reputation and Jesus could have very well allowed the disgusted looks towards her continue, but he didn’t. Instead he met her with mercy and compassion, not a critical eye.
I challenge you friends, to examine your desire for people to reap what they’ve sown and see if there are any traces of bitterness and/ or justice-seeking in your heart. God loves us too much to not reveal this to us. We then are free to intercede on others behalf from the exact posture of heart God intends for us.