When I travel, I always take Oswald Chambers with me. He’s been dead for nearly 100 years but his most popular book, My Utmost for His Highest, a 365-day devotional is timeless. It’s not the Bible, but I do put it on the same shelf. (*wink) I correspond my daily reading (while travelling) with the correct calendar date, and it never seems to fail but the words usually confirm a lesson the Lord is already teaching me. Last weekend, when I was in San Francisco, Oswald spoke to me again. He said,
“Never make a principle out of your experience; let God be as original with other people as he is with you.”
I’m different from you, and you are different from me. It’s a no-brainer, right? Wrong. It’s the hardest thing to understand (and keep understanding) that we are different than each other. As Danny Silk teaches: most often what we like or understand about someone is the part of ourselves we see in other people. We view and judge others by our values, gifts, experiences and personal expression. I’ve done it to others, and lately I’ve been experiencing the other side by others’ expectation and judgement of me.
For example, I don’t like to pray. Yep, I said it. Don’t judge me. I’m an intercessor and I don’t like to pray. I’ve just admitted I don’t like to do the one thing the [global] church deems important. Not only is it important, many people in the church probably agree it is the most important discipline in the Christian faith. Specifically, there are several people around me who are particularly gifted in prayer and can easily pray for hours at a time, praying and travailing for the same thing. Because I don’t like it, if I view myself through their eyes, I feel I don’t measure up. In my defense, I do pray but usually I prefer to be alone and it’s done in worship – either as I actively flag and dance or even in my work, as I sew and make flags.
What I don’t like is to pray for other people in the [usual] way we’ve been taught to do it. You know the drill: you’re at a Bible study, and the evening is coming to a close and everyone begins to rattle off their prayer requests; someone has terminal cancer, or their house is in foreclosure, or their child is strung out on drugs and is working as a prostitute – you know the stuff. Then just when the prayer requests are complete and it’s time to pray, someone looks at the clock and says, “We’ve got to run but we’ll pray for you during the week.” Nothing is resolved and all this crap has been left on the table so we pick it back up and leave feeling deflated. After a meeting like that convinced I’m a bad Christian because I dislike prayer or prayer meetings.
This past week, someone asked me if I could come over and pray for her because she is going through a period of anxiety and depression and my first reaction was, “NO!” Truthfully, my first reaction has H-E-double hockey sticks in front of the No. Of course, I can’t say that because then I look like a first-rate jerk, who is probably going to h-e-double hockey sticks so I wonder how can I get out of it without looking like a jerk.
I want to want to make time to pray because I know it’s important (nothing happens without prayer) and instead of getting out of it, the Lord gave me a win-win strategy; I could combine worship with prayer. Worship focuses on the goodness and greatness of God, and our problems are no longer insurmountable in the face of such an amazing and great God. It’s easy to declare victory in every problem. I can worship my big God, pray for the small problem and finish feeling hopeful.
The point I’m trying to make is a reminder to myself, “Be original.” Allow others to be original and don’t only celebrate the way other people are the same as me.
We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us. If your gift is prophesying, then prophesy in accordance with your faith; if it is serving, then serve; if it is teaching, then teach; if it is to encourage, then give encouragement; if it is giving, then give generously; if it is to lead, do it diligently; if it is to show mercy, do it cheerfully. ~Romans 12:6-8