Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Rangers, Vader, and Prayer

A few days ago, I was talking to a nonChristian buddy of mine about my housing predicament.

Basically, I'm couch hopping until my future roommate's roommate moves out and I can be my future roommate's current roommate. Did that make sense?

Anyways! As you could imagine, it can be stressful. If you've ever been in a situation where you don't have a home and are living transiently, you know that strain it can put on your nerves and your patience. 
Fortunately for me, God has blessed me with awesome friends who have let me stay in their homes for weeks at a time. Definitely beats living in a '94 Jeep Cherokee Sport in the parking garage of Paradise Valley Mall.

So I was talking to my buddy about the situation.
I was tired and spread thin trying to juggle the stresses of life and be a good Youth Director all at the same time, and it's only by the grace and providence of God that I can manage all the craziness at once. And to think: I don't even have a wife or kids yet.
He nodded and listened.
I took a drink of my coffee. I really dig the new Ethiopia roast.
He took a bite of his muffin, and with crumbs on his lips and masticated muffin in his maw he asked,

"Why don't you pray about it?"

I stopped and looked at him. My brain tried processing what he had just said. My brain felt like I had just typed the word "the" in to the Google search bar.
You don't even believe in prayer!
Ain't I supposed to be ministering to you?
Why don't I pray about it?
How do you know I haven't been praying about it?
Hey! You don't tell me what to do!
but what I really said was,


"Ya. You say that God cares about all that kind of stuff, so why not pray about it? Faith is your job, right?"

Well played... Well played.
I nodded my head.

He was right. 

As a follower of Christ, I have unlimited access to the creator of the universe, the ex-temporal master of all things tangible and not, the one who breathed in to Adam and gave him a free will and a soul, the Lord of all who sees all, knows all, loves all, and created all. The God who split the Red Sea and holds super novas on the tip of His finger. The Creator of water and gravity and the sender of summoned fire, the savior of the Israelites, the crusher of armies, and builder of civilizations who walked among us in flesh and was killed and then was resurrected who purified me from sin and adopted me to be an heir of heaven.

Ya. That's the same God we ask to bless our hotdogs and help us not get caught when we cheat on tests.

Don't get me wrong. God cares about our desires and our hearts. More than God cares about our actions, God cares about our hearts. He wants to know our concerns and passions. He cares about our fears and stresses, He wants to know your thoughts and opinions. 

God is not the disconnected, distant deity that observes from afar and shakes His head at our ignorance.

God is love. He's intimate. Over and over we are reminded that above all creation, we are His love. He created heaven for us; a place of eternal communion with God. Heaven is a place that we can always dwell and walk with our creator like He always wanted. He is not far away hoping we make the right choices and hoping to see us soon. He is always with us, among us, guiding us, working through us and around us. He is always intervening. 

When Jesus was killed, He fulfilled the law of the sacrificial system that had been practiced for hundreds of years. Jesus was the ultimate sin offering, the perfect lamb sacrificed, and just like in the first Passover, the blood of that perfect lamb saved us from death.

I love when Old Testament metaphors work out like that.

Jesus' sacrifice cleansed us from our sin. All the things that we had done, or ever will do were wiped away. All the records had been wiped clean; we were seen as innocent, without sin. Jesus healed the void between us and our creator.
It's all because of Jesus that we have that restored relationship with God.  

And it's not just one way. Communication goes both ways. Not only does God always listen to us, but He can talk to us. It's important that we take time to listen to Him.

Looking back at the conversation I had with my chum, what distressed me the most was the fact that most of my urgency was rooted in my atychiphobia. So badly I didn't want to let down my students or my leaders. I couldn't bear to let down Pastor John or the parents. Most of all, I couldn't live with the fact knowing that I had failed my God. So I tried with all my strength to please God and do all that I could to be the youth director that God commanded me to be. 
But that was the problem.
It was my strength.

It should have been obvious enough that God had done so much to get me where I am today. Or in the words of Rachel Caprine, "Totes obvi'"

If I want so badly to fulfill God's will and be used by God, then I need to in communication with Him.

Imagine, if you will, an Airborne Army Ranger. The elite of the elite. Equipped inside and out for any situation, always ready, always aware, and always dangerous. Any order given, and the Rangers carry out that order with perfect adherence, completing their objective with extreme prejudice.

But without orders, they're just well dressed soldiers getting dusty and tired.

Any experienced military man will tell you that communication on the battlefield is as valuable as bullets.

We're the same way. We are soldiers, fighting the good fight. We have our general orders, but if we want to be effective in the trenches and mud, we have to be in communication with our commanding officer. 

My geeky brain just turned on.

Remember Darth Vader? The corrupted, half-cybernetic, ex-jedi, father of Luke Skywalker (sorry for the spoiler, but if you didn't know that, you need find a bigger rock to live under)?
Darth Vader is the visage of passionate tenacity, always pursuing his objective. Equipped with enhanced cybernetic limbs, a superior knowledge of the force, and lightsaber skills that rival that of Jedi Master Windu, Darth Vader is the ultimate soldier. He can even survive in the vacuum of space for six hours with his own life support system. He single handedly led the assault on the Jedi temple after Order 66 was given.
Some of you are shaking your heads and saying "What is this psycho talking about?" and that is totally valid.

Even as powerful and equipped as he was, Darth Vader took time out of his day to have one on one time with his Master Sidious. He knew the objective and the goals, but keeping in consistent communication with his master kept him focused and on track. Eventually he caught Luke.

In the same way, when we pray, we are focusing our mind on God's heart. We are actively pursuing God's will and making it our will. By praying, we are setting our hearts and minds on God.

Praying is an act of faith in itself. 

When we pray, we are declaring "Yes! My God is real, my God is alive, my God cares, and my God provides. I rely on Him.
When we put our faith in God, He works through us in the same way he used the apostles' faith. Our prayers are the culmination of our faith and reliance on the characteristics of God.

God wants to be relied on. God wants us to trust Him and follow Him. 

God cares about wars and cosmic rotation and macro development, but He also cares about our times when we are so stressed we could punch a barista. He cares about our fears and tough times. He rejoices in triumphs with you and cares about the things you care about because He designed you to love those things.

If we are to build our entire existence around our Lord Jesus Christ, we need to know Him on a deep personal level. Reading His word. Seeking His heart in prayer. Sharing our hearts in prayer. Listening and waiting on God.

If we want to be effective "Rangers" and "Sith lords", then we have to be in communication with our master.

Take some time with your creator and pursue His heart.

Hey I stayed on topic! Mostly...

-- Darth Nate, lord of the youth