The Other Side of Asking

It was one of those 4 a.m. wrestlings.  I was rolling around and around about this relationship and that problem. “Lord, help me, help me.”  And His voice came so clear to my spirit: Do you Receive My grace as much as you Ask for it?

What?? Then He tutored me on moving from always asking to simply receiving the Yes and Amen of His heart: His Grace is His promise to me, to you.  So I went back through my list and re-stated my prayers: “Lord, I receive Your grace for this situation. Lord, I receive Your grace for this relationship. Lord, I receive Your grace for the unknown of this outcome.”

I do a lot of talking to the Lord, which is a good thing. But after this revelation, I realize the Lord is leading me to a different place of believing in Him.  Remember Graham Cooke said that we work “from victory not for it.” So in the same way, we not only ask for grace but we Receive it. Do I believe this? Do you? It is one thing to ask, it is another thing to believe He hears and responds. Yes, we may not see the end result immediately. (It’s called walking by faith not by sight.) But will we walk in the belief of and rest in the Yes of His Grace?

I got the best picture of two people talking. The first person asked for  a present from the other person. But just as the second person began to hand the first a gift, the first person turned her back.  The first person kept turning in circles and continued to ask for a gift.  All the while, the second person was trying to get the attention of the first person to give her the gift she asked for.

Sound familiar?  Maybe today, modify your prayers from “Will You Lord . . . ? to “I receive Your grace for . . . .”  He loves to be our Yes and Amen God.

Pennies from Heaven

I had this great God encounter the other day.  Charis and I were at the pool and she wanted money for the snack bar. So I handed her a handful of change and she looked at the amount mounded in her hand and declared, “This is plenty.” When I asked her to count it, she didn’t see the point because there were so many coins in her hands. “But some of those are pennies,” I said.

“It’s fine, it’s fine,” she said with a wave of her free hand. (You know your kids were raised in the South when f-i-n-e is a three syllable word. It’s beautiful to hear.)

Anyway, we separated the coins into like piles and I helped her add up the quarters, dimes, nickels and pennies. Once she heard the magic number of $1.25, which is the exact cost of a frozen Swiss Miss Chocolate Bar, she scraped all the change into her hand and was off. Contented and provided for.

Five minutes later, I am talking to Beth who is preparing to go BACK to Zimbabwe for six months this time to serve at the youth camp. We were working on her financial needs, listing out the room fee, phone, airfare, etc. Her magic amount was a bit more than $1.25.

That’s when the God encounter happened.

“Beth, think about it. When Charis came to me asking for money, she was never one time concerned about whether I had enough money. Her only concern was a yes or no answer from me. And once my answer was yes, it was on me to make it happen,” I said.

“Don’t miss this. She didn’t even care about the pennies, nickels, dimes and quarters. To her, it was more about Mom’s got it taken care of. Sure for you, it’s not pennies and quarters but it’s $100s, $200s, $1000s. But to God it is the same. It’s all pocket change to Him. ”

He said yes. It’s on Him to provide the change. And that is what it is. Pocket change from our Dad. A day at the snack bar with His kids.

Ask Big.  You have a Big, Big, Dad.

A Story Worth Repeating

You know what I used to hate more than anything?  Asking for help. Isn’t that crazy?  It was something in my genes (Southern? Stubborn? Self-reliant?) that used to drive me to be the Christian Martha Stewart, Martha Washington, and Martha in the Bible all rolled into one at the same time.  And if I didn’t pull off this independent perfection, then my conclusion was that there must be something wrong with me. What a bunch of hooey.

But here is a really good thing I am learning: God doesn’t help those who help themselves. (Where did that dribble come from?) He helps those who humble themselves under His mighty hand and depend on Him to provide in real, tangible ways.  And in due time, He lifts them up. That is His promise.

It is one thing to ask for help when you can still maintain composure (read: pride).  It is quite another thing altogether to receive help when you are at your worst. I started seeing this principle play out in odd and vulnerable moments of my life.

I was moving. No worse time to see your own mess, dirt and clutter. But it was Melissa who helped me pack up my house when Chuck and infant Salem had a throw up bug and my freezer had come unplugged and reeked of rotting food.

When I  had surgery and couldn’t bend over, Ellen insisted that she help me in a “real way.” So she scrubbed my nasty bathtub.

Nan arranged a baby celebration not only for Salem, but also a memorial service for Judah, our baby who died.

Then there is Betsy, Lyschel, Nancy, Ruthie, my folks, Lou Ann, Christie, Christina, Lora and the list goes on and on.

Friends who were willing to go the extra mile at their expense, just to help me, at my worst and ugliest moments. When I had nothing to offer them in return but a feeble and heart-felt “thank you.”

It is called community. The family of God in action. And it reminds me of Zimbabwe in an odd way. 

Here is the short version of a great story. A big group of people in the Knoxville area sent a container of food, clothes, and school supplies over to people in a land far away where there are no jobs, where the shelves are empty. These were not  things not to make life “comfortable” but things to help them survive.  And when this group of people in Zimbabwe, our God family, opened up this metal box sent from around the world, the first thing they saw was a hand-made sign: “See, I have not forgotten you, I have engraved you on the palm of my hand.”

I weep every time I see the picture.   He hasn’t forgotten them. He hasn’t forgotten you. Ask for help. Believe it will come. He has got the whole world in His hand.

Also, if you want to help us continue to bless the people of Zimbabwe, click here.