Setting the standard

God sets the standard for behavior in this world. That standard is one of unconditional love, compassion, acceptance and kindness, both for ourselves and for everyone on the planet. Unfortunately, or perhaps, fortunately, His standard is so impossibly high that we can’t meet it without His help.

As a mere human, I am inherently flawed and am prone to being self-serving. My first reaction in almost any given situation is not “What can I do to help?” but instead, “How will this affect me?” Also, I tend to compare myself with celebrities and other luminaries – “Her hair is thicker than mine; she has perfect skin and the perfect weight and shape; he lives in a gorgeous house and has a great job; she drives the very car I want; her jewelry is to die for and worth millions; and her clothes! All those designers!; She’s so talented; I wish I had her artistic skill.”

In pondering this dilemma I’ve realized that by comparing myself to someone else I am basically telling God He screwed up. I’m saying to God that He made a mistake in creating me and that by making that mistake He doesn’t love me. So, my thought is this, am I really so presumptuous as to stand there, before the God of all Creation, of Miracles, of Unconditional Love and Never-ending Mercy, that I know better than He does about how I should be? Am I really that arrogant?

Maybe not in my conscious brain, but, each time I say ‘I hate my hair’ or whatever else there is about me I hate and because of what someone else has or does or is I covet what they have or do or are; deep in the hidden depths of my heart I am throwing God’s love and tender care for me back in His Beautiful Face. And each time I do that, another seed of doubt is planted and the desperate need for my ego (flesh) to separate itself from my spirit and drive a wedge between me and the God of my heart continues to grow.

And when that happens, as it most certainly will, I wander off away from God, doubting His love for me, and stumble along until I trip over my own feet and end up face down in the muck and the mire. And where is God? Right there with me waiting for me to reach out to Him so He, in turn, will reach for me, pick me up, clean the crap off me and set me on my way again.

Lord, help me to not compare myself to others, to not covet what they have or do or are. Remind me that I was made in Your Image and that with Your Grace and Love I am perfect in Your all-seeing eyes.

 

 

“We don’t compare ourself to others; they are just as fouled up as we are. The goal is to be like Him; anything less is inadequate.” (Max Lucado)

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Vacation!

I’ll be in Cali for a week – until then I am….gone on vacation

Dear God, I…

How’s your prayer life? How’s mine? I’ll admit it, I struggle with a defined prayer time – time set aside specifically to commune with God. I’ve not been good at that for a long time – decades in fact. Time was when I was attending a large evangelical church in my area in my late 20’s that I had set aside a time for prayer. It seemed like the thing to do, after all, it’s what was preached from the pulpit. I also had an hour of prayer scheduled in the 24/7 Prayer Room, where someone was always praying for the needs of the community. Add to that the 3 services I attended each week, plus volunteer ministry from street preaching to nursery to ushering, my life was quite full of God-stuff. And it’s kind of funny that, after all that rigorously scheduled spirituality I left that church and wandered spiritually for another 25 years or so before coming to where I am now, in my current walk with God.

So that makes me wonder about scheduled spirituality. In many ways, it’s not a bad thing. If you’re coming out of the dark forest of wrongdoing, drugs, alcohol, crime or just being human, you may need the structure of ‘religion’ to keep moving forward. On the other hand, all that structure can become despiritualizing and you wake up one day and ask yourself, “Where’s my spirit in this? Am I performing these acts of ministry as an act of worship to God or for my own gratification?”

The same goes for prayer. Prayer, in my way of thinking, is basically a conversation with God. Now, I’m not good at conversing with God. I’m real good at talking to Him – but the listening part, well, that needs some work. When prayer is an actual conversation with God, its an act of worship. But when I spend all my time just talking to God, it runs dangerously close to being self-gratifying – just talking to hear my own voice and my own opinions.

There’s also nothing wrong with talking to God all the time – as long as you take the time to listen as well. God is the Author and Creator of this world and all it contains and there is nothing He won’t use to get through our thick skulls and past the torrent of human emotions to speak words of love, healing, forgiveness and redemption. He speaks through music, newsprint, strangers, animals, children, books, family members; those we love, those we don’t and those we wouldn’t give the time of day to, let alone talk to them.

But above all that, God hears the intent behind the prayer; He hears the heartache, the pain, the joy and the sorrow that we carry. He responds to every prayer, but not always in the way we want or expect; which is why when you pray, think about intent. If I pray for a new car because I need one – is it really because I’m trying to keep up with the neighbors or is it because there’s no bus service where I live and I have kids but no spouse and how else am I going to get to and from work? I may get the car or I may not. God alone sees the true intent behind the prayer; if you aren’t sure, ask Him to show you. He will, although you may not like the answer!

Keep talking to God – in whatever form it takes; but be sure to listen, too. God always hears every prayer – and He answers every prayer as well, if we have ears to hear and the heart to accept the answer.