(most of this material is from John Eldredge’s new book, “Moving Mountains”)
JB Philips said, “Your God is too small”
FIX YOUR EYES – “Therefore, since we are surrounded by a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith.” Heb 12:1-2
As I fight my way through the battles of this world, my eyes aren’t normally fixed on Jesus. I tend to focus on crisis before me. Not Jesus. The crisis has a way of capturing your attention. Jesus frequently was seen “looking up to heaven” or “looking up to the Father” as he processed through decisions. He turned his gaze from all the evidence to the Father to draw upon God’s resources and His Father’s love. We must look from the debris of life to God. If we focus on the debris, it will take us out.
GOD – Look at this picture… (notice it is in the shape of a heart)
It reminds me of everything that I know to be true of God – he is the creator of everything I love. Waterfalls, mountains, wild places, rivers, forests, pastures, sunshine, the night sky, sunsets, beauty, goodness and truth. Just start there – think of all the things you love in this world. And then remind yourself that the God you are praying to is the One who made it all. It helps me to hold and touch and feel something in the natural world – a leaf, a stone, placing your palm on the top of a flowing stream – and to remind myself, “God did this, he is immensely powerful, creative, generous and intimate.”
“With my great power and outstretched arm I made the earth and its people and the animals that are on it.” Jeremiah 27:5
WATCH this video…
And think about the sun. Seasonal mood disorder is real and a week of grey, drab, rainy cold days can truly depress you. And then, oh that feeling when the sun pops out for the first time. There are times when I will just walk out of my office and walk around my building just to find a place to look up, close my eyes and bask in the winter sun. It heals me. It restores me. It greens up pastures and lush grass lawns. Pine trees explode in bright green against a sun drenched blue sky. The sun can warm you in just a few minutes after a dive into a cold pool or lake. Remember who made the sun. It is a celestial nuclear device with a surface temperature of 5,500 degrees Celsius. More than 1 million earths could fit inside the sun. Unconceivable amounts of energy is generated at its core as hydrogen converts to helium by nuclear fusion. One solar flare releases more energy than ten million volcanoes. There are 100 billion suns in our galaxy and there are more than 100 billion galaxies.
BUT MY WORLD IS FALLING APART – The problems I’m having at work. The issues in my marriage. The fear over my health or my future. All these things we bring to the Creator of all of this world and universe. My problems…they seem quite manageable for such a creator as this. As crazy as your problems are – you should not, must not, please do not evaluate the loving kindness of God toward you by the swirling tornado of events – especially by whether or not he seems to answering your prayer at hand. Your heart cannot take such abuse; you will find yourself swirling around like Dorothy in a Kansas cyclone, debris flying all about. It will leave you exhausted, uncertain, fearful and desolate within a few months.
Let me say it in reverse – are you exhausted, uncertain and fearful? Then perhaps then have been evaluating whether or not God loves you by the events of your life.
PRAYER – if the One I am praying to made those sunsets, the waterfalls, the star-filled desert night sky, the snow-capped mountains, the radiant sun … ALL of that, if He created ALL of that … FOR ME, for my enjoyment, my pleasure, my use, my life. The One I am praying to is THE One who gave His life … for me.
IF I could believe that, IF I could believe THAT was the person I was speaking to in my heart as I prayed, I KNOW it would make a world of difference. I would be so confident; I would expect good things, I would feel triumphant right from the start. This is why we are urged to “fix our eyes on Jesus” – especially when we pray.
DAD – A man John counseled years ago said his father was a very successful man. He left for work early before the boy awoke and returned just in time for dinner. After dinner, the Dad would disappear into his study, close the doors and work well into the night. The boy, longing for his father’s attention and affection, would sit in the hallway outside his Dad’s study, writing him notes and pushing them under the door. “I always hoped that one time, just once, he would pass a note back under the door to me. But he never did.”
It’s a heartbreaking story but it is a metaphor for how many of us conceive of our relationship with God – a busy man we hate to bother, whose affection we long for, passing our prayers under his door, hoping for just a word in return.
SONSHIP – “For you did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear, but you received the spirit of sonship. And by him we cry, “Abba, Father” Rom 8:15 “Because you are sons, God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, the Spirit who calls out, “Abba Father”. So you are no longer a slave, but a son; and since you are a son, God has made you also an heir.” Gal 4:4-7
The reality of these words simply has not penetrated our souls. We still act and pray like orphans or slaves. Do you come to God as a son/heir … or as an orphan? A slave feels reluctant to pray; they feel they have no right to ask, and so their prayers are modest and respectful. They spend more time asking for forgiveness than they do praying for abundance. They view the relationship with reverence or even fear – not with the tenderness of love. Of being loved.
Orphans are reluctant to pray. They feel desperate. Their prayers feel like begging more than anything else. Orphans feel a great chasm between themselves and the One to whom they speak. Abundance is a foreign concept – a poverty mentality permeates their life. They ask for scraps. They expect scraps.
PRODIGAL – John’s sons come home for Christmas and they feast. The food in the house is there for their taking. They pillage and don’t have to ask permission. Dad takes them out to eat – the bill is always on him. They order whatever they want. They are his sons – they get to live under their father’s blessing; they get to drink from the abundance of his house. They grab the gear they need, the jacket they need to borrow, the best boots, fly rod or sunglasses. “You are my son – everything I have is yours. Plunder as you will.” This is how true sons get to live; this is how a father feels towards his sons. The prodigal comes home and his father is there on the porch looking for him. Do you come to prayer knowing that God was already expecting you? Looking for you? Waiting on you?
The Father loves you like He loves Jesus. You are not an orphan. You are not merely a servant of God. You are a son. You are an heir. That comes with privileges.
“I tell you the truth, my Father will give you whatever you ask in my name. Until now, you have not asked for anything in my name. Ask and you will receive, and your joy will be compete… I am not saying that I will ask the Father on your behalf. No, the Father himself loves you.” John 16:23-27
Do you expect the lavish when you pray to God? Do you expect abundance?
It’s there for the taking. This is sonship. I’m not the little kid passing the notes under the door just hoping He will acknowledge me. I’m His son. His heir. All He has is for me. The sunbursts, the waterfalls, the sunsets, the stars, the mountains, the streams, the wildflowers, the trout, the deer, the harvest, the bounty … the abundance.
It is all there for us. It’s a radical shift in what many of think about prayer and relating to the Father. To think He isn’t distant and disappointed in me. To think He’s sitting on the porch just waiting on my return. To think ALL He has is for me. To think He loves me that much. I’m his heir. I’m his son. I’m his partner.