You walk out to go to work and the front tire is flat. Or you’re welcoming the new pastor to your deliciously prepared Thanksgiving dinner only to remember (while on the doorstep) that he’s vegetarian.
Okay, those are actually easy ones. How about your son calls from college and his girlfriend is now pregnant with your grandchild? (And the girl is contemplating get rid of both of them?)
Introducing the Panic Button, and we all have one. Or for some of us, several. Big ones clipped onto our keychains that we carry around every day, with glow-in-the-dark coatings and red LED-lit letters that invitingly read PUSH ME NOW.
Historically, I know my typical response in emotionally harrowing situations. On a good day, I might remember to mumble a quietly impassioned plea for heavenly help before throwing on the fire-proof uniform and sliding down the pole to a blaring siren. Let’s get this fire out, right now.
Which is a bit like what Isaiah was getting at when he foresaw the future events concerning his beloved Jerusalem. God not only told His prophet what was going to happen, He also clued Isaiah in to how the people would respond—
“Chariots fill your beautiful valleys,
and charioteers storm your gates.
Judah’s defenses have been stripped away.
You run to the armory for your weapons.
You inspect the breaks in the walls of Jerusalem.
You store up water in the lower pool.
You survey the houses and tear some down
for stone to strengthen the walls.
Between the city walls, you build a reservoir
for water from the old pool.
But you never ask for help from the One who did all this.
You never considered the One who planned this long ago.”
Classic Panic Button.
Something tells me that if the people would have pushed the Pause Button instead, asking God “what caused this?” and “what should we do now?”, the end result would have different. He may have still told them to do the stuff they were doing, but with a far different outcome, because God had a way, even pre-Crucifixion, of graciously responding to repentance as well as a really big heart for restoration.
Which is honestly part of my journey on prayer. Asking, (which I’m pretty good at), and then listening, “considering”, having an attitude of repentant attention. Not repentant in the sense that everything going wrong is due to my decisions (remembering our friend Job), but, then again, it might. A posture of repentance and willingness to learn is always a smart thing before Holy God, even though He is my Father. Come to think of it, because He is my Father.
I’m also becoming acutely aware that there is a skill set involved. Not a one-size-fits-all, but certainly a few items to try on and see what fits in my personal communication with this creative God of the universe.
And it may or may not be related to putting out flames with a fire hose.
(P.S. I’m still working on John Eldredge’s The Hope of Prayer. Anybody have any thoughts about it?)
Isaiah 22:7-11 Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.