Moving God Out of the Box You've Placed Him In
We're doing a little summer book club around here. What does that mean exactly? Meeting at the park in the evening. Reading a chapter a week. An evening spent discussing what we're learning and wrapping it up with a coaching tool to help us keep it in our real everyday lives.
I picked a book instead of a Bible study because slowing down was the resounding message I was hearing from God. Slow down on writing Bible study after Bible study. Slow down on stressing out on getting in right. Slow down on 5 days of homework.
In place of slowing down, I knew the One Foot Community needed a little embracing. Embracing being together instead of deep diving into answering questions. Savoring the main point of each chapter instead of pulling out our top 10 insights. Learning to hear God's voice through others in community.
So I chose God is Able by Priscilla Shirer. I picked it because I needed to know that God is able in my life. I picked it because we have gals in the One Foot community who are grieving losses, needed new jobs and homes, taking care of aging parents, and waiting for physical healing. I picked God Is Able because I knew we all needed a reminder this.
God. Is. Able.
The book is based on Ephesians 3:20, which says:
God can do anything. Do you believe that? We had trouble with it too! During our discussion last night, we reviewed the points of chapter 4. God goes beyond anything we can ask or imagine. And because He is able, we can ask boldly. We can confidently. We can bring our wildest dreams to Him.
The problem? We don't. We don't because we've put God in a box. We don't because we are afraid that He might say NO. We don't because we'd rather ask for small things instead of wrestling with the idea that God is still good and faithful even when the answer is still no.
So, what's a girl to do with her God boxes?
Believe God is Who He Says He Is
Priscilla's main point? God is always at work. He's at work behind the scenes. When you can't see it. When it feels like He's forgotten. When it feels like your suffering and pain feel pointless. When you have no idea how you're going to make it through, He's at work.
He goes above and beyond for you and for me. His love for us didn't stop on the cross. His love for us extends to the big things in life and the little things in life. His love extends to all the things. In our everyday walking around life.
But before we can take Him out of the box we've put him in, we need to believe that He is working even when we can't see it. We need to believe He is faithful and good even when we receive that NO. We need to believe He loves us even when it's been a while since we've felt that way.
Our job is to believe. His job is to be at work behind it all.
Identify Your Boxes
Here's what I want to admit. It's hard to believe. It's hard to trust that He's working when life is messy or we're waiting for a miracle or when it's hard to get out of bed. And it's in those moments, that we can put God in a box. Not intentionally. Just because it's challenging to reconcile God is good with life is hard.
We can sometimes replace God is good with:
- Has God forgotten me or my prayer request?
- Does God even care about the little things?
- Do I need to pray in a different way for God to hear?
- Shouldn't I just do what I can do with the little things and only bother God will the big things? Like illnesses and hunger and other stuff?
- Do I even need to pray because God is in control of all things?
Good questions. But all these question can put God in a box. He only answers the big prayers. He only answers certain prayers. If I can do it myself, I don't need to talk to Him about it.
You fill in the blank. And if you're filling in you're blank and you think you're the only one, I'm here to tell you that you're not. We all have a box or two we've put God in.
In coaching we call this limiting beliefs. It's those things we're thinking that keep us from moving forward. You may call it the lies we believe. Or stinkin' thinkin'.
It's the place where we put limits on God which in turn keeps us from coming to Him. Boldly. Courageously. Confidently.
Our limiting beliefs or boxes aren't all bad. We may have formed them to protect our hearts and our faith. But somewhere along the way they've stopped serving us and kept us from the things God's wants for our lives. Freedom. Wholeness. Faith.
Choose Courage Over Fear
I don't know about you. But sometimes I don't pray wild and bold prayers because I fear the disappointment. I fear that moment when I'm believing in faith only to find that God is silent. I fear that moment when I get my hopes up only to have God say no or not yet. Every once in a while, I can even fear I'm doing it wrong (that one may be all me).
And so I think you and I, we play it safe. We pray for baby steps and things we know God wants and can do. We may even pray bigger prayers but don't really believe God will answer.
Here's the thing. Taking God out of the boxes we've placed Him in is going to involve a little risk. A risk to trust Him with our big dreams. A risk to trust that if the answer is no He will walk with us and help us process that disappointment. A risk that a NO is just as loving as a YES.
As I read chapter 4, I was convicted. I was convicted that I don't always pray in faith. I've been praying for my next client, when just maybe God wants to take One Foot to another level. I've been praying for healing of an ache, when He wants to heal the whole body. I've been praying for things when God wants to do a work inside my heart.
At the end of our discussion last night, we talked all things prayer. Should we pray for BOLD things? The one point that has stayed with me? When we pray bold prayers, our hearts shift and our we focus our attention away from what we can do to focus on what God can do. We look for God to answer. To show up. To move on our behalf. We stop over thinking and start releasing our grip.
One last thing....this song says it all. We release our grip of control. We trust God with big requests. And in the meantime, we pray because we want a relationship with Him.