So, I think I figured out why we so often miss the blessings that God has for us.
This is a lot more of a personal blog post so if you do want to comment just remember that in the background.
So I sat there early in the morning doing my ‘God time’ is what I call it and I really wasn’t getting much out of it. I know that’s the wrong attitude and that’s not what I should be looking for but I’m just recounting the experience. Having read through Mark chapter 2 versus 22 to 20 something, it occurred to me that I just wasn’t in the right frame of mind to do any sort of ministry at all. The day before had been a full day already and then a full on meeting. For me I’ve struggled to sleep after meetings at the best of times and this was no different.
I got to a point where I just prayed a prayer that I think more than one pastor has prayed but we don’t like to admit it: ‘Lord Jesus I need a pastor today.’ ‘Will you be my pastor today?’ There’s no one else I can talk to.
So I prayed, and nothing happened. My first catch-up was booked for 10:00 AM and just before I got out of the car to see another congregation member a message popped up on my phone: “Peter, how’s your afternoon looking, if you have a chance can we catch up?” I’ll be honest, my first thought was ‘Oh no here’s another one, I’m just not sure I can take it.’ I was so sure this would be a tough catch up that after I finished the 10:00 AM appointment I rang my wife to ask if she could pray for me at 2:00PM especially when I had a meeting with this person. Meanwhile my mind raced about what they might be unhappy about and how I had failed them in some way that I maybe had missed.
And then the time came, I rolled up in the carpark of the cafe where we were to meet at 2 o’clock sure to have my ominous ‘conversation reports’ notepad with me to ensure that whatever was said was recorded accurately for the eventual feedback that would be necessary to our board of elders. We entered the cafe and as I did my usual starting line of ‘what can I get for you?’ this person rather responded by saying Nope, I called you out let me buy you a coffee .” “OK, I’ll have a flat white I responded thinking; ‘Oh no if they want to buy for me then this is going to be really bad.’
We sat down at a socially distanced table, and in order to get done what we needed to get done I asked my other usual tagline “so, what can I do for you?” but I’ll never forget the response for the rest of my life. Here it is.
“actually Peter, not much, we’re doing ok. I just wanted to take you out to coffee to ask you how you were doing, I mean (wait for it ) who do you get to talk to?”
Let me be clear, I’m not recording this for the sake of a sob story. I record this because I hate it how God is constantly answering our prayers and yet how rarely do we record and proclaim our thanks.
but I also record it as a way of reflecting on my response to the last question on earth that I was expecting to be asked even though it was a direct answer to my prayer earlier in the morning.
In that moment I was so frustrated with how surface level my response really was. I was so ready for a ‘hard conversation’, so steeled to deal with the next issue that was going to present itself and so switched into my pastoral gameface that I simply couldn’t just be me in that moment without talking about a whole bunch of random stuff to do with the church. I’m not talking about bad stuff. Just a bunch of surface stuff that’s not really talking about the heart.
As a result, I never really got the most out of that conversation, that, answered prayer because I never was expecting God to answer my prayer that day. But it turned out to be an incredible day. The catch-up afterwards was even more encouraging but do you think I spent that night in prayer and Thanksgiving and worship? Nope. I spent most of that evening entertained by some ridiculous distraction.
Maybe this It’s just a way of me setting sorry to God. It makes me think of all the times I pray and he blesses and he’s lucky if I even mention to thanks very much before continuing on my merry way. Yet Jesus loves me , and he persists. It completely blows my mind that he supplied the answer to my prayer that day knowing full well the lack of gratitude he would get from me.
It’s what keeps me coming back to the Christian gospel God pours out his best whilst he is fully aware of my worst.
But as I said right at the top in the title, I think I’ve figured out well we just miss out on so many of God’s blessings to us. The simple truth is we’re not really expecting him to answer our prayers. We believe the lie of the world around us that if we really trusted God we might miss out. We pray heavenly father, but it’s way more fun to rely on the dodgy uncle that is the world around us for an immediate fix of our silent and gnawing anxiety.
I’m so sick of how much the evil one steals from us through the constant reshaping of our expectations in negative ways.
So maybe my prayer is this at the moment: “dear Lord Jesus, I pray that you would help me to expect more of you and more often for your glory. Because I can’t learn to praise you if I’m not alert to your constant love in my life. And I’m never going to be alert to you if I don’t believe that.”
What’s your prayer? Count your blessings and find out.