God is NOT a Genie

One of my favorite topics of conversation about God, is the concept of “prayer.”  I think you would be surprised how many interesting and varying views there are about talking with God.  This space is too limited, and the time you have to read is insufficient to digress into a discussion on “who is God?”, so let’s cut to the chase, and I’ll assume you know I’m talking about the One and Only God, the Creator of the universe, present and revealed in three persons: God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit.

With that brief foundation let’s stay on track and talk a little about “prayer.”  Regardless of your faith system, or denomination, the Bible (not tradition or the teachings of men) is the defining authority on the topic of prayer.  For instance, a good starting point would be Hebrews 11:6 which says, And without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is and that He is a rewarder of those who seek Him.  So right out of the gate, any conversation with the eternal deity is based in FAITH and has as its motivation that God “is a rewarder of those who seek Him.

Even the Bible implies that seldom does anybody really come to God for a general conversation about nothing.  Instead of “Good morning Lord,” more often than not it’s “Good Lord, it’s morning, help me get through it until I get some coffee.”  What may start out as a prayer of “thanksgiving” swiftly and most often turns into a list of needs or litany of wants.  So, I have to say it, Hebrews 11:6 does NOT imply that God is just a genie in a bottle, we release to meet our every whim, notion, or fancy.

All too often we use Jeremiah’s words like a dial up to Uber service.  Listen to the weeping prophet’s words, as he describes God’s desire to hear from us.

Jeremiah 33:3 Call to Me, and I will answer you, and I will tell you great and mighty things, which you do not know.

Now, here’s the thing.  If we believe that God is (exists), and wants to reward our inquiries (Hebrews 11:6), and that we have his phone number (Jeremiah 33:3), then what SHOULD be the nature of our conversation, when God answers?

Rather than going off in any and every direction based on our circumstances, wants, or needs, God the Son, Jesus Christ, has already given us a real good MODEL on which to base our conversations with the Eternal Father of heaven.

Respect and reverence:
Our Father who art in heaven, hallowed be Thy name.
Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.

Request for daily needs:
Give us this day our daily bread.
And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.

Direction and wisdom:
And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from evil.

Recognition:
For Thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, forever.
AMEN!

I don’t see a genie in a bottle here.  I don’t rub the bottle, watch the smoke pour out in a disembodied ghost-like appearance, with a voice that says, “What shall I do for you today, Master?”  God doesn’t call anyone “master.”

I see the Creator seeking to engage with His creation, for them to know Him as they were intended to.

I see a Creator who knows what we need, even before we ask for it, because He sees what we don’t see, and knows what we don’t know.

I see a Creator who is timeless and always present, knowing the exact direction which will lead to me fulfilling my purpose within His purposes and His will… and He is willing to guide me there.

I see a Creator who deserves my love, adoration, obedience, and trust.

God is not a genie in a bottle… please don’t be tempted to treat Him as such.  When we call God up, in faith, and in sincerity “ask” for His love, protection, guidance, healing, or blessing, but most of all HIS WILL to be done in our lives… we will get it.

Be careful what you ask for.

 

 

 

 

Genie

Glimmer

glimmer

What started with such a glimmering hope of adventure, became a journey that, in the end, couldn’t be over soon enough.  As a first timer going on a cruise, I was ill prepared for the pacific ocean in the dead of winter.  What could be better than Thanksgiving on a cruise right?  The gleam and glitter, the sparkling twinkle of the lights ashore as we left Los Angeles that night, are crystal clear in my memory.  Perhaps so because of this shot I took from our room’s balcony during the departure late that night.  The gentle rocking waves in the harbor, the smell of salt in the air, and the cool breezes all seemed to welcome me aboard, whispering a fond bon voyage.

Then, reality set it.

I was going to be on this rig for 14 days… hmmm.

I know people personally who can’t get enough of life on a cruise ship.  They go all over the world, and they look for new adventures, all the while sailing the oceans on a vessel holding 2,000 to 3,000 souls.  I applaud their tenacity, but alas, it is not for me.

In the darkness of a night on the ocean, overcast, with visibility about 50 feet or less at times, while torrential rains added more water to the 15-20 foot waves, I thought about 12 men in a fishing boat on the Sea of Galilee.  They too thought they might die in the deep dark waters.  They too were very close to panic, and perhaps even those seasoned fishermen felt a little nauseous as they fought to stay afloat.  Then as a flicker of lightning lit up the sky, they saw what they thought to be a ghost hovering above the water coming directly beside them.  Turns out it was the form of a human man… walking on the water.

The panic of just a few minutes before turned into stark terror.  What made it worse, if there could be a worse, the Scripture indicates that He intended to pass them by [Mark 6:48].  I’ve often wondered about this phrase.  “He came to them, walking on the sea; and He intended to pass by them.”  Why?  He clearly saw them “straining at the oars.” Why was His intention to pass them by?

In Matthew’s version of this story (chapter 14) it seems to be more about Peter and his abandonment of all sensibility, hopping out of the boat and going to the Master.  But even in that narrative, it is difficult to pass by the underlying truth in the telling of the tale.

The fact is, when we place our hope in boats, or in my case a cruise ship, to keep us safe in the middle of an ocean, we are trusting in the wrong object of our faith.  It is Christ alone who is sovereign creator of all we see, including the wind and the waves.  It is Christ alone who will save us, when we cry out to him in our darkness.  It is Christ alone who offers these words, to the disciples then, and to us today… “Take courage; it is I, do not be afraid.” [Mark 6:50]

There are times today when my life seems dark and dangerous, just as menacing, just as threatening as those 15-20 foot waves right outside the door to my balcony on that ship.  In these moments I hear the voice of my Savior, calling out to me, “Take courage; it is I, do not be afraid.”

This phrase is my glimmer of hope.  In what or whom do you place your hope today?

“But now, Lord, what do I look for? My hope is in you.” [Psalm 39:7]

 

Glimmer

Rush

What’s you’re hurry?  Why the need to gallop through life? Is it that necessary to race to the finish without smelling those proverbial roses?  When I was in high school I couldn’t wait to get my driver’s license for the freedom of movement and the promise of adventure that little piece of plastic represented.  Now, some decades later, that little piece of plastic still allows me to zoom, zip, and whip along my way on the freeway to my heart’s desire… but now I mostly fear for my life, and the life of my family, when I’m out on those freeways today.  Today’s drivers bring a whole new meaning to the words “bolt, careen, and speed.” So you get there two and a half minutes faster, so what?  Slow down already… don’t be in such a rush.

What’s true on the highway is true in life too, don’t you think?  In just the last two weeks my wife and I have found a home that meets our needs better than our current one, and decided to put our house on the market.  For several days I rushed from one task to the next providing financial data to our lender, meeting with our realtor, and making sure we dotted all the “i’s” and crossed all the “t’s” to get this ball rolling.  We listed the house on Thursday and had open house over the weekend. A few “lookie loos” came parading through, marveling at how wonderful the house is, and why we should ever want to leave.  When order was restored, our realtor remarked that it’s early days, but there were two couples who seemed genuinely interested in the purchase process.  I said to the realtor, “Well, that’s good, because I am one of the most patient people you’ll ever meet.”

What a joke right?  Anyone who knows me, knows I’ve been full tilt on “go” since I came out of the womb.  I’ve rushed through each phase of my existence on this planet, always ready for the next big adventure.  Patience may be a virtue, and it is definitely on the list of the Fruit of the Spirit of God, but it rarely shows up in my life with strength, or longevity.  Apparently, I’m a work in progress when it comes to patience.  This morning, before I started writing this article, I was reminded again of just how sad it is for people like me, always rushing around to the next task.

Contemplating the weekend’s activities, and thinking about writing out the list for today’s jobs, I looked to my right to get the yellow stickie notepad on my desk … and out of the corner of my eye, I caught a glimpse of the sun rising in the east.  A totally cloudless sky of deep purple enhanced the glowing yellow and orange rays of the coming light.  I was mesmerized, and shocked at how few times I’ve just sat and watched the sun come up.  For whatever reason, what I did next shocked even me.  I sat.  I breathed.  And I watched in wonder at the beauty of God’s creation.  I wasn’t anxious.  I wasn’t in a hurry.  I wasn’t rushed.  I just sat.

So here’s the thing.  What’s your rush?  Take a moment, and take a breath.  Now relax, look around at something besides the “to-do list,” and take the time to see the wonder and beauty of God’s creation.

Psalm 27:14
Wait for the LORD; Be strong and let your heart take courage; Yes, wait for the LORD.

 

 

Rush