Question: How would you complete this sentence?
“I am a ______.”
Would you say, “I am a….” woman/man, friend, pastor, father/mother, believer, searching, insecure, complicated, kind, compassionate…?
The list goes on and on of the things we could fill in the blank with… really the number of things we could identify ourselves as.
Recently, we had a company (Facing History & Ourselves) come to Hope Church and guide our staff through a series of exercises that challenged and encouraged us on how we see ourselves and those around us. In one of the exercises we were asked to chart the most valued 6-7 characteristics we identify ourselves with. For instance, mom/pastor/lives & loves midtown was on my list. It was a really interesting exercise.
Ultimately, the purpose was to challenge us to take a closer look at the various characteristics that make up who we are as well as those around us.
Truthfully, I love those kinds of exercises. I was a Psychology major and it comes out in my passion to understand people and what makes them tick. But here’s the point for us— we can identify ourselves as a lot of things. Some good things; some “needs improvement” kinds of things.
The idea (or really challenge) is, what is it FOR US? What do we value about who we are or who we want to be?
This has been my lingering (really nagging) question this week. This question has challenged me on where I am (and am NOT) putting the time to be who I want to be. & Honestly, what characteristics or traits I place the most value on. & Here’s the verse God used to simplify all of this for me (AKA: kick my spiritual butt)…
My God, whom I praise,
do not remain silent,
2 for people who are wicked and deceitful
have opened their mouths against me;
they have spoken against me with lying tongues.
3 With words of hatred they surround me;
they attack me without cause.
4 In return for my friendship they accuse me,
BUT I am a man of prayer.
This is the verse I couldn’t shake. & Honestly, at first glance, it’s an odd one (especially if you continue reading the chapter). I mean, David is going on and on about the people who are out to get him. In fact, he practically tells God what to do and demands he intervene. & Then, he says so simply in verse 4… “BUT I am a man of prayer.”
See, David was a guy with a LOT of enemies. Constantly people were out to get him. They wanted his throne, his power, his reputation, his life, his God… his everything. & Here, David is in crisis and crying out to God. His circumstances seemed insurmountable, terrifying, and completely overwhelming.
& Out of these 4 small (somewhat odd) verses, here’s what God taught & challenged in me…
#1. David is raw with God.
He is honest, open, and real about the issues he is facing. He challenges God (verse 1, “do NOT remain silent.”) to speak up, help him, advocate for him. He is crying out to God for help AND he’s venting to God about what’s taking place. I love this.
Does God know what’s going on in David’s life? 100 percent. And (I believe) David knows that as well. BUT– he still hashes it out with God.
So often in my time with the Lord this is when God most clearly speaks to me… when I am raw and hashing out life with him.
When I open up myself to God. When I tell God I am mad or angry or hurt or even feel betrayed by him. It’s in these raw moments something powerful happens. I am eased by the gentle calming of the spirit. A verse suddenly comes to mind. Or I am overwhelmed with the “peace that surpasses all understanding.” Sometimes this doesn’t happen. But most times it does.
& either way, I am left feeling a little lighter and reminded of my own humanity and God’s sovereignty.
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard amazing, church going people say, “You can be honest with God- he can handle it.” This is true and I completely believe God CAN handle the mess; my mess.
But the truth is, that isn’t what keeps me from being raw with God; It’s me.
It’s ME not being able to handle laying it all out in front of God. I know God will love me and accept me and pick me up… sometimes I’m just not ready to deal with the mess. I’m not ready to deal with… me.
And that’s partially why I am always so drawn to David. He has some of the most raw, real moments with God in the scriptures. And I need that reminder to be raw with God. To let him in every area/moment/mess of my life. Yes, he can handle. But more importantly, yes I can handle with WITH him.
#2: Where David places his identity.
Verse 4 is really what messed with me….
Verse 4; “BUT I am a man of PRAYER.”
He could have said BUT I… trust in you, BUT I… know your words, BUT I… have quiet times/go to church/teach others… fill in the blank. He could have said A N Y T H I N G.
But how did he chose to identify himself? As a man of PRAYER.
This got me.
Is this how I identify myself? Is this what I would say to God when faced with trial after trial after trail… when people were seeking my life, ministry, and reputation? If I’m being honest, no.
Yes, I pray. Yes, I have quiet times. But do I LEAN into these times I like I should? Probably not.
So often in my prayers with the Lord my words are “help me to TRUST you,” “help me to FOLLOW you,” “help me to…DO something.”
But prayer… that helps us to BE something. It shapes us, changes us, and transforms us to have the same mind and heart of Christ.
And this is where David’s identity and confidence is, in his PRAYER LIFE.
It wasn’t about the “stuff” he needed to fix the situation, to change his circumstances, or even to simply get through it. David’s confidence is in WHO he is… a man of prayer. A man who was constantly communicating with God; no matter the situation.
So, I desire to say, “But I am… a woman of prayer.” A woman who fearlessly, boldly, and continually communicates with God. Who is vulnerable and brave enough to be raw with God and to deal with the mess, WITH God. Who doesn’t run from the trials but embraces them KNOWING…
>>> BUT I AM… A WOMAN OF P R A Y E R. <<<