As Anton Ego put it in the movie Ratatouille, "... you know what I'm craving? A little perspective. That's it. I'd like some fresh, clear, well seasoned perspective. Can you suggest a good wine to go with that?"
Monday, September 2, 2013
iPray eVotionals exhorts those who pray. It's the glass of water held out around each month's turn for the runners who can use a quick and easy quench in order to finish strong.
When iPray, I lay down my "coins" and surrender to His view.
(Approximate reading time: 10 Minutes)
A SHIRIN STORY:
On a train heading back to Williams, Arizona after visiting the Grand Canyon, Shirin thought about how it had looked like a picture. She felt a little robbed of the grand experience everyone talked about because it had seemed so fake. While looking into the canyon her mind had told her that what she was seeing was not the biggest canyon in the world, it was just a backdrop.
Shirin remembered standing near the edge, she had lifted a coin from her pocket and had held it up in front of the view. Her brother Frederick had been standing next to her, "Shirin, put it away," he had said, "your blocking my view! Besides, if you drop it you will never find it." He was right, if she had set that coin down and stepped back just a few steps it may have disappeared from sight. She remembered thinking it was a good idea to try, but instead quickly slipped the coin back in her pocket.
Funny that holding up a little coin could make it seem bigger and more real than the Grand Canyon with the potential to block her view. Although Shirin couldn't grasp the grandness of the canyon, she could grasp her coin. She had wanted to feel awed but just couldn't surrender to the image, "I feel robbed."
"You will be robbed!" Robbed? Back on the train, Shirin's thoughts of the Grand Canyon were interrupted. She looked up. Their train car host went on, "You are in for a great show but I warn you, only surrender money you are willing to part with for good because you won't get any of it back."
Shirin was sitting next to her cousin Jordan. In her pocket she still had her coin, but didn't want to part with it for good. Jordan's parents quickly slipped him a dollar. Across the way she could see her dad getting out some money. As he reached across the isle he said, "Here you go Shirin. This is not a real robbery, these men work with the train to put on a show. Long ago bandits would really stop passenger trains and rob the people."
"There they are!" Jordan shouted. As the train traveled down the tracks Shirin could see masked bandits on horses riding along side the train. Soon the train came to a stop and the men got off their horses and stepped on board.
"Listen up, this here is a robbery!" The bandits came in with bandannas wrapped around their noses and tied in the back. "I want folding money, pocket change, jewelry and gold teeth."
Pocket change? Shirin wasn't willing to part with her pocket change.
"Put your paws in your pockets," The bandits continued, "and your hands in your hand bags and get that money out!"
"Here you go, it's all I have" Shirin shouted out as she raised up her father's dollar bill.
The bandits worked their way down the isle taking the money and making all kinds of bandit type comments with just enough humor to remind Shirin that this was a show.
After they left the train car Jordan huddled up with Shirin with the biggest smile on his face. "I got them good," he said, "Look, I didn't give them this dollar!" Shirin burst out in laughter at the thought of pulling a fast one over on those bandits.
"Look!" Shirin yelled across the isle to her brother Frederick and cousin Preston, "Jordan didn't give them his money!" Everyone laughed, even her parents found humor in it. Jordan held it up like he was victorious.
Suddenly, the front doors of the train car swung open. Were the bandits back?
"Alright, you folks stay in your seats and stay calm, I'm the Sheriff and I'm looking for some low down dirty rotten train robbers!" Just the Sheriff. Shirin sighed a relief and again played the part of a robbed passenger.
"They were here and robbed us of our money!" She shouted.
"Oh they did?" The Sheriff replied. "Well, it's time to catch these robbers and bring them to justice for robbing you of all your valuables."
Shirin could barely handle it knowing that they had missed a valuable. Her cousin couldn't hold back any longer. He stood up, "Look Sheriff, they didn't get this dollar! We gave them money and they missed this one in my hand!"
The Sheriff stopped short and looked at Jordan. "You say they missed that dollar?"
"Yes, they missed it." Shirin felt Jordan's pride over flowing.
The Sheriff narrowed his eyes. "No kidding, let me see that dollar." Jordan quickly surrendered it over as the Sheriff expected it, holding it up to the light and checking to see if it was a counterfeit bill.
After his inspection he held it in one hand and said, "Well you know what they say don't you?" Jordan nodded side to side still smiling wide. "They say that sometimes the worse crooks are in law enforcement!" With that he pocketed that dollar and went down the isle proclaiming he was determined to catch those bandits.
Shirin and her cousin were shocked! Everyone around them burst out in laughter. After the Sheriff left, Shirin and Jordan couldn't stop talking about how the Sheriff had stolen the money! Their parents, through laughter, explained that all the actors are part of the same group.
Shirin stuck her hand in her pocket and felt her coin. As the moment passed She looked out the window as the train traveled down the tracks.
Again she thought about The Grand Canyon. It hadn't seemed real, she had wanted to surrender but couldn't. The Robbery was for sure not real and she had no problem pretending to surrender. The Sheriff looked real but was not safe to surrender to. Rubbing her finger around the edges of her coin Shirin thought about how the coin felt real and was easy to grasp. It would have seemed very small if it was placed on the side of the Grand Canyon. Maybe she should have left it at the edge, maybe then she would have grasped how grand the canyon was.
As the train moved further away, Shirin's heart longed for another view, for another chance to surrender. No pretending to surrender to some act, but really surrendering to something real.
iSurrender... to a grander view...
In my prayer life I've held up many "coins" in front of God. Even as I write this a flood of memories rush through my head. Life happenings, pivotal moments and life altering events. Loved ones that have passed away, children I know who have been victimized and suffering that seems unending. When I think about what is happening in the world all kinds of coins pop up in my face. Inhumane attacks, terror and war; sufferings beyond my wildest imagination. Natural disasters that cause widespread destruction and profound environmental and human loss. Burdens, heavy loads of concern, bewilderment and hopelessness are more coins that I sometimes want to keep holding while wondering why I can't see God.
Is God really that Grand? There are times when I just can't grasp it. I'm told about how deep and wide His love is. I read about his compassions being new every morning. I hear testimonies of grand miracles, complete healings and supernatural interventions. In fact, I hold testimonies of those exact things happening in my life. That's right, I regularly stand right in front of His "grand canyon" and have stories to tell of it! Biblical history along with modern day accounts tells us of how grand God is. Since these things are true about God when I come into His presence I want to surrender to His grandness and absorb Him like a sponge. To sit on the edge of His "grand canyon" with an unobstructed view and fully breath in the sight. That's what I want to do.
Why is it then, that sometimes we walk away from what should have broadened our perspective feeling robbed of a fully surrendered moment? Could it be that the things that are closer to us can seem so much larger and more relevant when we hold them up in front of God? Maybe it's the fact that the grandness of God is so big, so good and so mighty that it doesn't seem real. Or could it be that because we are not able to view the magnitude of His grandness from a singe perspective that we just pretend that it's not there? If we hold onto our own understanding and our near sighted perspective then we're being robbed.
Instead of surrendering to God, we tend to play the part and pretend to surrender. Our burdens end up being placed at the feet of self-satisfing solutions that rob us from the opportunity to really find healing, purpose and growth. Other times we surrender to addictions when we are in pain, to a cause when we want purpose or to an idea when we need a reason. We can also be fooled into surrendering to an impostor, and only after we are taken advantage of do we realize our foolish mistake. When all else fails we just hold tight to things that feel real but do not hold real, eternal value. Truth is, whatever seems valuable in our pocket pails in comparison to how grand God's eternal and everlasting value is for our lives.
I can always find something in my little pocket that gives me a false sense of being in control. I long for another view, for another chance. I long to surrender right away, all the way in every way. No pretending and no act. I long to surrender for real, the way Mary did.
iSurrender... like Mary did...
How did Mary surrender?
Surrendering is simply, letting go. It's yielding, submitting and relinquishing our own will to a higher power. We are called to live a surrendered life like Mary, Jesus' mother, did. From the moment we read about her, she is faced with something so big and completely life altering that it could have easily blocked her view.
"... The angel went to her and said, "Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you."... Mary was greatly troubled at his words and wondered what kind of greeting this might be. But the angel said to her, "Do not be afraid, Mary; you have found favor with God. You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you are to call him Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over Jacob's descendants forever; his kingdom will never end." Luke 1:26-33
For a moment Mary held up a little coin...
"How will this be," Mary asked the angel, "since I am a virgin?" (Luke 1:34)
God reminded her of just how grand He is...
The angel answered, "The Holy Spirit will come on you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God...For no word from God will ever fail." Luke 1: 35-37
Mary faithfully surrendered, placing her "coin" at the feet of God rather than keeping doubt in her hands or in her pocket.
"I am the Lord's servant," Mary answered. "May your word to me be fulfilled." Then the angel left her. Luke 1:37
Mary believed that God could really do what may only seem like a backdrop possibility to others. She quickly lowered her coin so that she did not block anyone's view, including Joseph's (Matthew 1:18-25). Mary surrendered in praise with a beautiful song, worshiping God (Luke 1:46-55). She surrendered to what God was doing through Jesus many times in many ways (Luke 2:16-20, Luke 2:25-40, Matthew 2:10-12, Luke 2:41-52). Some moments were sweet (John 2:1-11), others were not (Matthew 12:46-50). Mary even surrendered to what some would say is the most difficult thing a parent could ever have to surrender in a lifetime. I can only imagine that she surrendered in tears with a heart full of anguish while she witness her son die on a cross, but with a limited view she did it, receiving God's sweet provision (John 19:26-27) and God's grand redemptive power came into view for all of humanity. (John 3:16)
Can we really walk with a surrendered heart, trusting that although we may not be able to grasp, feel or see the grandness in whole, that it is there? It's not a backdrop, it's not pretend. When we place our coins next to a canyon wall and step back our perspective changes. All of sudden what once seemed so significant that it blocked our view, can barely be found to the naked eye while looking across at how Grand God is.
When we surrender the way Mary did we stand on the edge of something grand. So grand that with an unobstructed view it's still too grand to see in whole, but we become a part of this grand story. No matter what comes, God is in control, he does provide and His will is eternal. Full surrender, trusting God beyond what we can ever see, hear, feel, touch or understand. That is surrendering like Mary did.
When you are not able to grasp how deep God's love is, how wide his arms really stretch... iPray that you will surrender all.
When the unthinkable happens and you doubt if God is really as grand as He says He is... iPray that you will surrender all.
When you cannot wrap your brain around Him and feel out of control... iPray that you will surrender all.
When you hold on to anything that might feel more real than God's promises... iPray that you will surrender all.
When you hold onto a little coin that has no heart or breath... iPray that you will surrender all.
When you move coins down to see the view but place them in your pocket instead of at God's feet... iPray that you will surrender all.
When you are faced with counterfeit gods and fooled by actors...iPray that you will surrender all.
When you are overwhelmed by what God can do and it seems bigger than you can grasp... iPray that like Mary, you will sing His praises and surrender all.
iPray that you will surrender... your plans, your perfect, your ideals, your expectations, your wants, your things, your loved ones, your life.
So that you may gain a view of... God's plans, God's perfect, God's ideals, God's expectations, God's wants, God's things, God's loved ones, God's life... something bigger. A view that is GRAND!