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Lifeline: The Stripping Away

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“My God, my God why have you forsaken me? Why are you so far from saving me, from the words of my groaning?”—Psalm 22:1 (ESV).

I must confess, I have of late developed a glaring dislike for prayer meetings, praise and worship sessions and overnight prayers. The dishonesty that goes on in those ‘religious gatherings’ is alarming, and am not suggesting that I am honest myself.

Every Christian is aware that God knows the deepest of our thoughts and sees them before we are even subconscious enough not to know why we did what we did. He already knows yet we can’t help it but put on layer after layer of mask when we go before Him in prayer.

“I love you Lord.

“You are so great,

“You deserve all the glory and praise.”

Duh!

You know deep down that your feelings are ill-assorted with what you are saying. You know that the “I love you Lord” is not what should be said at that moment. We Christians are better than the rest because we know how to fake it.

A Halloween decoration before a Holy God.

To say, “I love you Lord” when all we feel is disdain toward Him.

To shout, “You are great, Lord” when all we feel is a Divine letdown.

To mutter, “You deserve all the glory and praise” when all we feel is a Heavenly screw-up.

I have seen church people who are lazy to even stand up to say the Apostle’s Creed but then try to boast of their strong faith. They can’t clap, but will do it anyway. We fake it better.

Hear this screw-up that was after God’s Heart, his name is David: “My God, my God why have you forsaken me?” He continues, “Why are you so far from saving me, from the words of my groaning?”

If there is ever any one place where we should be putting off our masks, it’s in the presence of God. Prayer ought to be a stripping away of all the layers of pretense; and the tearing down of all our spirited attempts at being what we are not.

That is what David does, and surprisingly, God doesn’t break His legs. Neither does He kick him in the head.

I know that it’s crazy for unholy people like us to stand before a Holy God and not be consumed by His wrath. It amazes me that a Celestial fireball flying at the whims of a Glorious Deity has not reached down to consume me.

It’s because of Jesus. Yes, Jesus. Hear St. Paul writing to the Romans: “For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!””—Romans 8:15 (ESV).

What Paul is saying is that because of Jesus who died for all our efforts to save ourselves, we have been adopted by God and He is, and will always be our Father—Abba! Hence we can go boldly before our Father and tell Him everything without holding anything back. Fathers never kick their children out of the house because they stole a toy at school.

Being Abba’s child is my assurance that he is not going to kick me out. In Christ we are sons and daughters with a seat at the table and an eternal inheritance.

Therefore you can go before God and tell him how He has screwed it all up for you.

When it feels like God has forsaken you and instead gone for vacation to the sandy beaches of the Kalangala Archipelago, tell him that.

You don’t have to dribble praise slur at Him as if you are on autopilot. Relationships thrive on honesty, and yours with God is not an exception. It is, and it has to be the stripping away of all the multiple identities we wear to save ourselves.

Writing in his autobiography All is Grace, Brennan Manning, a Roman Catholic priest who deeply got the gospel and preached grace until he couldn’t move anymore had this to say at the end of his Ministry:

“I’ve been a priest, then an ex-priest. Husband, then an ex-husband. Amazed crowds one night and lied to friends the next. Drunk for years, sober for a season, then drunk again. I’ve been John the beloved, Peter the coward, and Thomas the doubter all before the waitress brought the check. I have shattered every one of the Ten Commandments six times Tuesday. If you believe that last sentence was for dramatic effect, it wasn’t.”

Brennan knew the depth of his sin but also never forgot that he was Abba’s child. So he was bold and sure of God’s love for Him even when his love for God failed.

That is my prayer for you this week, that you will let God strip way the falsehoods you are basking in. To quote Brennan Manning again, “It’s better to live naked in truth than clothed in fantasy.”

Because on the cross, Jesus was forsaken so that we will be accepted.

That is your lifeline, AMEN.

Note: For the next three weeks, I will be taking time to specifically talk about prayer. It won’t be a guide “On Becoming a Prayer Warrior”, but I promise you it will be different.


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