Follow by Email

Saturday, August 4, 2012

The American Christian's Obsession with God's Protection!

God's protection--rather praying for it--has become an American "Christian" obsession.  I must confess that I, too, participated in this obsession for a time...when my children were young.  In the early years, daily praying God's protection over them felt like some magical guarantee He would protect them from all harm, no matter what. 

My perspective and expectation of God's protection and the definition of safety has evolved for me over the years, as has my understanding of God's greater purpose and plan to use pain and suffering for His glory and our good.  Since this did not come through my own experiences with my children, I have learned this through others' personal experiences and by gaining a better understanding of the scriptures depicting God's full perspective on His choosing to provide safety in any given situation or not. 

As Rachel and Joseph grew older, began to drive and to travel on educational and mission trips around the world, people would often ask if Charles and I were terrified something awful would happen to them.  How could we stand to let them go?  

Why is it that they were, suddenly, more likely to be harmed or injured just because their distance from us would be greater than ever before?   Was there some increased ability I personally had to protect them, myself, if they were in close proximity to me? 

The better question.  What ability do I really have in truly protecting my children, from anything, whatever their age or geographical location?  The best question.  Do I really want to limit God's working in my children's lives by asking Him to protect them when that is not His perfect plan for their lives or will not produce increased spiritual maturity?

James 1:2-4
Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance.  Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.

The quote, "The center of God's will is the safest place to be!" is a misnomer.  Once again, our definition of safe and God's definition of safe is often on opposite ends of the spectrum of this earthly life.  Does it mean if we are in the center of God's will then we will be safe from all harm?  I wonder if the Nate Saint and Jim Elliott families would agree with that analogy?  What would Jesus think?

2 Timothy 2:15
Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, accurately handling the word of truth.

The Enemy delights in setting Christians up where it will look like God has failed them.   Doubt is the root cause for our faith to wither and even die, if we let it.  When we place un-scriptural expectations on our God we are giving the Enemy an open invitation to walk right in and deceive us.  Once deceived into mistakenly thinking "Thus saith the Lord", we become as vulnerable as an infant simply lying on our backs waiting for him to devour us.  Be careful when taking verses out of context and trying to force them to fit your situation, especially where safety is concerned.  We often do this without even realizing it. 

1 Peter 5:8-10
Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that the family of believers throughout the world is undergoing the same kind of sufferings. And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast.

Apparently, suffering in this world is not only very probable, but inevitable.  If we or our children are not currently suffering some kind of trial, get ready...there is one on its way!  Don't dread or be afraid of it, instead...welcome it.  Yes, I said...welcome it!

I have, on occasion, prayed with a sister granting God permission to do whatever it took--including physical, emotional, or mental pain and suffering--for a wayward child to be brought back to His fold.  This is a huge leap of faith when a mother is willing to pray this kind of prayer.  The heartache a mother feels as she watches her own child suffer is extreme, but for some the thought of them rebelling against their Savior is even more heart wrenching.   

When we can embrace God's perfect love for us and for our children, then we will be able to trust God with our children's safety and with His help, embrace His decision to not always grant them safety from this world's "evils".  If the choice is safety or His will, I will choose the latter.

1 John 4:16b-18
And so we know and rely on the love God has for us.
God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them. This is how love is made complete among us so that we will have confidence on the day of judgment: In this world we are like Jesus. There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.

When I pray for my children, these days, I ask God to protect them from the evil one as Jesus prayed for us (whatever that means, John 17) and ask Him to allow whatever will bring Him the most glory to be done in their lives.  If He chooses to allow them to suffer pain, will I be able to embrace it as His best, for their good?  I pray that I will. 

I was so tempted to post Romans 8:28 here.  Remember?   Don't use scripture out of context.  As I re-read the entire chapter it makes so much more sense to post the entire chapter.  This is a monumental part of God's love letter to us.  Taking it out of context minimizes its impact on our lives.  Ask His Spirit to envelope you in this passages' intent as you read through the 8th chapter of Romans allowing your mind and your heart to experience, once again, the immense love God has for you and all that entails.  All the while, in the back of your mind, think of how this scripture applies to our obsession of praying for God's protection. 

 

 

Romans 8

Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you free from the law of sin and death. For what the law was powerless to do because it was weakened by the flesh, God did by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh to be a sin offering. And so he condemned sin in the flesh, in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fully met in us, who do not live according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.  Those who live according to the flesh have their minds set on what the flesh desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires. The mind governed by the flesh is death, but the mind governed by the Spirit is life and peace. The mind governed by the flesh is hostile to God; it does not submit to God’s law, nor can it do so. Those who are in the realm of the flesh cannot please God.  You, however, are not in the realm of the flesh but are in the realm of the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God lives in you. And if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, they do not belong to Christ. But if Christ is in you, then even though your body is subject to death because of sin, the Spirit gives life because of righteousness. And if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies because of his Spirit who lives in you.  Therefore, brothers and sisters, we have an obligation—but it is not to the flesh, to live according to it. For if you live according to the flesh, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live. For those who are led by the Spirit of God are the children of God.  The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again; rather, the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship. And by him we cry, “Abba, Father.” The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children.  Now if we are children, then we are heirs —heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory.  I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us.  For the creation waits in eager expectation for the children of God to be revealed.  For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the freedom and glory of the children of God.  We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time. Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption to sonship, the redemption of our bodies.  For in this hope we were saved. But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what they already have?  But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently.  In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans.  And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for God’s people in accordance with the will of God.  And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters. And those he predestined, he also called; those he called, he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified.  What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?  He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things? Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies.  Who then is the one who condemns? No one. Christ Jesus who died —more than that, who was raised to life —is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? As it is written:  “For your sake we face death all day long  we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.” No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.



No comments:

Post a Comment