Hiding in Plain Sight

In her prayer journal, author Flannery O’Connor writes:

“I want very much to succeed in the world with what I want to do.  I have prayed to You about this with my mind and my nerves on it and strung my nerves into a tension over it and said, “oh God please,” and “I must,” and “please, please.” I have not asked you, I feel, in the right way.  Let me henceforth ask you with resignation-that not being or meant to be a slacking up in prayer but a less frenzied kind-realizing that the frenzy is caused by an eagerness for what I want and not a spiritual trust.  I do not wish to presume.  I want to love.  Oh God please make my mind clear.  Please make it clean…Please help me to get down under things and find where You are.”

Now, even though I did go ahead and bold two parts of this, I have to say that this whole passage is so beautifully honest and if I can be honest myself, completely sounds like me; at least the first part where she talks about not asking God for things the right way.  I do find myself feeling this same way, frenzied, while praying because of an eagerness for what I want (or think I need or deserve) and wanting it now, rather than in spiritual trust to the One I impatiently ask.

I assume that O’Connor is stating that she does not want to presume that she will simply be handed what she has asked for.  We often do just presume that God will answer our prayers with a “yes” and be done with it.  She is saying that she doesn’t want to do that anymore and just wants to love…love God?  love His people?  love everything?  I’m not sure, but just the fact that this little sentence is the overflow of her heart makes me also want to love and be the overflow of my heart, rather than just sitting around waiting for God to bless me with what I want (especially when what He ends up giving me is so much more than what we had asked for).

The second bolded statement jumped out at me because it reminds me of when my older son is looking for his shoes in the morning before school.  We have a basket in our dining room that we call “the shoe bin”.  It is simply a place where all of our shoes are kept so that they are all in one place.  Now sometimes, a shoe will sometimes make its way somewhere else on our first floor (my younger son has a huge thing for shoes and puts them on his feet ALL the time), but most of the time, the shoes are pretty much contained to the bin. My son will go over, usually even turn the light on to see, look at the top of the shoe pile and quickly exclaim, “Where are my shoes?”  This question is usually answered by either my wife or I going over and moving a shoe (if that) or two, exposing his “missing” shoe.  His response is usually something like, “Oh, there it is,” said with a slightly embarrassed chuckle.  We then respond by telling him that if he just would have looked a little harder, he could have found it on his own.

O’Connor hits the nail on the head here when she prays for help to get down under things and find where God is.  We are so often like my son, only looking to what is on the top; what can be easily seen.  When we don’t see God there, we get frustrated and don’t take the extra time to keep searching.  Sometimes, God can’t be seen right in front of us or at the top of the pile.  We have to keep going in order to find Him.

13-14 “When you come looking for me, you’ll find me.

“Yes, when you get serious about finding me and want it more than anything else, I’ll make sure you won’t be disappointed.” God’s Decree. (Jeremiah 29:13-14 MSG)

If you are having trouble finding God today, whether it’s because you are frustrated by your frenzied prayers based on an eagerness or presumption of receiving the blessing you want or you just aren’t looking deep enough for Him, just keep looking for Him because once you find Him, you’ll realize He was simply hiding in plain sight.

All I Need

Recently, I was reading through Matthew 9 and I was particularly struck by the story of Jesus and the paralytic man.

9 Jesus climbed into a boat and went back across the lake to his own town. 2 Some people brought to him a paralyzed man on a mat. Seeing their faith, Jesus said to the paralyzed man, “Be encouraged, my child! Your sins are forgiven.”

3 But some of the teachers of religious law said to themselves, “That’s blasphemy! Does he think he’s God?” 4 Jesus knew[a] what they were thinking, so he asked them, “Why do you have such evil thoughts in your hearts? 5 Is it easier to say ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or ‘Stand up and walk’? 6 So I will prove to you that the Son of Man[b] has the authority on earth to forgive sins.” Then Jesus turned to the paralyzed man and said, “Stand up, pick up your mat, and go home!”

7 And the man jumped up and went home! 8 Fear swept through the crowd as they saw this happen. And they praised God for sending a man with such great authority

First, these people brought a helpless man who could not walk to Jesus for healing, even when he was too weak or unable to do it himself.  That hit me because of our need for fellowship.  Many times, it is through the help and efforts of other people that we are lead to Jesus. I was also especially struck by the first words that Jesus says to the paralyzed man…”be encouraged, my child!  Your sins are forgiven.”  In The Message, it says, “Cheer up, son.  I forgive your sins.” I love it!  From the very first words that Jesus says to him, He is telling the man, “I am all you need.”

I relate well to the paralyzed man. I am helpless.  Too often when I am helpless, though, I want to pick myself up and try to figure everything out on my own and keep going.  When we’re helpless, though, we can’t do that.  Sometimes we just have to let other people carry us to Jesus so He can utter those same words to us that He said to the paralytic man;  “Cheer up, son.  I forgive your sins.”  If I have nothing else, I at least have what I need.

More on this passage soon!  Be Blessed, friends…