Friday, July 11, 2014

Even so, "Come, Lord Jesus"

It’s difficult to describe the train of thought that went through my head that morning, leaving me sitting on the shower floor in a puddle of soapy water and tears.  From the deepest place inside of me welled up a sudden, unquenchable grief for the suffering of the world.  Images of mistreated and neglected children, kidnapped African school girls, and sex-trafficked teens ripped at my heart with violent rage.

“I don’t even see them, God, yet I can hear their cries in my spirit.  Surely their voices ring all the louder to YOU, their omniscient Creator!  Where is the God who ‘sets the captives free?’”

The issue of pain and suffering vs. God’s goodness is a classic theological quandary.  The answer isn’t simple, but it isn’t that God doesn’t care.  My questioning about His whereabouts was purely rhetorical.  I know He isn’t AWOL.  What my heart was really crying out was, “God, you’re the only one who can solve these crises.  There’s only so much we can do.  We are dependent on you.  We are waiting for YOU!” 

I was begging.

My children know I have their best at heart.  Yet, when I have promised them something, they beg for it until I finally give it to them.  They know it’s my desire to give it to them, because I promised it to them.  But it’s me who knows when the timing is right to make good on my promise.  In the meantime, they wait for it with eagerness and pleading.

Do you know the Bible tells us to do that?

Jesus taught His disciples to pray, “Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.”  Even though He has already promised to do it, Jesus is telling His followers to ASK Him to return and to establish His kingdom on earth.

Why would He do that?  Why would He encourage us to ask for what He has already promised?  Why would His Word encourage us to pray AT ALL if it’s HIS will that He’s going to do in the end anyway?

As children of the Father, we know He has the final word. But loving parents know that having the final word doesn't mean we aren't interested in our children's thoughts, feelings, and questions. We always take their requests into consideration. Still, our final decisions reflect what we know is best for them. Sometimes we can explain our decisions to them. And sometimes we try, but they don't understand. At times they may think we're being mean or unmoved by them. But we're not. And we certainly don't want them to stop coming to us because they believe we'll decide what we'll decide and that's that.

God made us for relationship with Him. In marriage, couples build intimacy-- a knowing of one another's hearts-- through communication. If spouses don’t talk to one another, the intimacy of their relationship breaks down and, pretty soon, they barely know one another.  Our relationship with God demands no less intimacy.

By engaging in prayer, we maintain our connection to Him. Over time- as a result of hearing from His Word, from our experiences, and from the “yeses” and “nos” we receive from Him- we develop a better understanding of His heart. We get on the same page with Him and begin praying His will more and more.

Revelation 22 says: “[1]The Spirit and [2]the bride say, ‘Come!’  And let [3]him who hears say, ‘Come!’…  [And [4]Jesus] says, ‘Surely I am coming quickly.’  Even so, [5]come, Lord Jesus!” (v. 17a, 20, NKJ)  

What John is relaying here is that:

(1)    God’s Spirit yearns for Jesus’ return to earth.
(2)     The church yearns for Jesus’ return.
(4)    Jesus says He is returning.

Yet, with all of that said, John still urges listeners to pray for Jesus to return (3) and then he does so himself (5).

The message is clear: We are to keep asking for what has been promised.

When we pray for Christ's return, we then watch for it.  We prepare for it.  We become active participants in inviting His glory and His intimacy with us.

As believers, we know that, despite our best efforts to do good in this world, only Jesus can set things completely right.  When the cares of this world are weighing heavily on your mind, you are not powerless.  Christ invites you to pour out your heart, to beg and to plead, and ask for what your heart desires.

Like a bride awaiting her wedding day, we yearn and desire and angst and wait and prepare our hearts for the moment we have been waiting for.  When that day finally arrives, we will stand clean and dressed in white, our heads held high, eagerly and expectantly awaiting our groom.

And His arrival... will finally make things right.

I heard a loud shout from the throne, saying, "Look, God’s home is now among his people! He will live with them, and they will be his people. God himself will be with them. He will wipe every tear from their eyes, and there will be no more death or sorrow or crying or pain. All these things are gone forever.” -Revelation 21:1-4, NLT

© Stephanie Yax: 2014