Wednesday, August 20, 2008

The "Whats"

Some years ago I received a gift subscription for the magazine, Pray! Prior to that moment, I had never seen a whole magazine devoted to prayer. As my year was running out, I decided to renew and have been reading it now for a few years. A recent article read during a devotional moment really grabbed my attention. I think in some ways it brought to mind an earlier post entitled, Impossible Prayers. The author of the article was writing about using prayer retreats to discern God's leading for the church. (Now there is a new idea!) United Methodists have always figured such discernment was supposed to be done by committee and common consensus. Who would have ever thought to ask God? The article described how the retreat participants took turns sharing what each had been hearing from the Lord. He spoke of that experience as the "whats." As an example he wrote, "...when God called Abram (Gen. 12:1-5)), He only revealed the 'what'--'I will make you into a great nation.' The 'how' it would all come about , was left for later.'"
It made me think about other Biblical stories. The "what" of the Moses' story was going to Egypt. The "what" of Samuel's story was to go to the house of Jesse. The "what" of Mary's story was the birth of Jesus. As I reflected on the writing and the stories, I realized that I like for my "what" to be accompanied by a "how." Perhaps, putting the two together is just human nature. But, my reflection points to some other issues as well. Maybe one of the issues is the issue of control. It is not enough to know what God wants. I also want to know how it is going to happen. Of course, this takes out the faith dimension. It also short-circuits my ability to catch the bigger visions of God. In the end my faith walk is diminished by unwillingness to walk where I cannot see.
I suspect many a grand vision has been cast aside as impossible, or impractical, or not likely to happen because of the demand that the "how" be seen alongside the initial revelation of God. I fear it has been too much that way for me, but hopefully, not for you.

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