I just got back from playing volley ball at Jeff Weigand's for the third time in my life. So let me just state the obvious: I'm not good at volley ball. But somehow, I still manaage to have a lot of fun when I go. Every week, it seems to be a different crowd, so it's fun to get to know others and to play. Some people are just amazing at volley ball. And some are just amazing at making volley ball fun no matter what. A lot fall into both categories but I probably just fall into the latter :-) The sand court there is great and the corn field directly behind it makes for some good volley ball hunting every once in awhile!
So just a few minutes ago, I was talking to my mom about starting to pack up some of my clothes to take down to ISU because my family is going to be gone this weekend to Oak Run, so I'll move in on Monday. And while she said that, I was overcome. I mean, I've been "preparing" to move for awhile now, but it just kind of hit me tonight. No longer will I reside in this house on second street and sleep in my purple bedroom every night. No longer will I be only a few minutes away from a lot of my close friends and family. And no longer will I have my mom just a step away for advice, my dad in the next room for a question, or my 2 cats outside for company. I'll be ON MY OWN. And it'll be different, a lot different than what I'll be used to. New people. New places. New experience. New memories. New everything.
In this time of change, it might be really fun and easy or it might be difficult, but regardless... I'll have God. :-) He is unchanging. And that is a comfort!
I'm sure you'll all be well-informed as to how everything's going down at ISU (as long as my blogging stays religious). Anyway.
Today, I read 1 Chronicles 1-4. Ok, I have a confession to make. So I didn't exactly READ through it, I mostly just skimmed over it. Anyone unfamiliar with the beginning of 1 Chronoicles, let me fill you in: It's a bunch of names. Anyone pregnant and need a name for the baby? Go there. What caught my attention is about halfway through the roll call in 1 Chronicles 4, after 44 names (according to The Prayer of Jabez, the book) "a story breaks through."
It definitely catches one's attention. Here you're falling asleep to the names and all of the sudden, WHAM! Right smack dab in the middle is this: (1 Chronicles 4:9-10)
"Now Jabez was more honorable than his brothers, and his mother called his name Jabez, saying, 'Because I bore him in pain.' And Jabez called on the God of Israel saying, 'Oh, that You would bless me indeed, and enlarge my territory, that Your hand would be with me, and that You would keep me from evil, that I may not cause pain!' So God granted him what he requested."
WOW! Amazing. It reminded me of the little book, The Prayer of Jabez, that I read awhile back. I was inspired to get it out again tonight, and was blessed when I did. Let me share some findings from this book.
On analyzing the prayer.... (everything in quotes is from the book, and everything that's not is me:-)
"At first glance, the four requests may strike you as sincere, sensible, even noble, but not terribly remarkable. Yet just under the surface of each lies a giant paradigm breaker that runs exactly opposite to the way you and I usually think...When was the last time God worked through you in such a way that you knew beyond doubt that God had done it? In fact, when was the last time you saw miracles happen on a regular basis in your life? If you're like most believers I've met, you wouldn't know how to ask for that kind of experience, or even if you should..."
But, we should.
"When you stand before Him to give your accounting, your deepest longing is to hear, 'Well done!'"
"God really does have unclaimed blessings waiting for you, my friend... and with a handful of core commitments on your part, you can proceed from this day forward with the confidence and expectation that your heavenly Father will bring it to pass for you."
Basically, this book takes the prayer of Jabez and breaks it up, focusing on each part and how we can learn to pray this prayer in our life. And if we REALLY are committed to praying this prayer, miraculous things and blessings will follow.
Books like this, such as Traveling Light, which breaks up the 23rd Psalm and focuses on each line intently, really amaze me. And when I say amaze, I mean HEAVILY. Like amaze me in a way that INSPIRES me. When Scripture can be broken up in a way that makes the Word COME TO LIFE, it really makes me want to go back for more. And that's great! What a blessing we have when others can write books that are centered around the Word of God so it can be shared! Look at what the Purpose Drive Life did. Today I was in Berean Bookstore, and I walked by a book right next to PDL that said, "Living a Life with Purpose" (or something like that), and upon checking the back, I saw it was a book written about how The Purpose Driven Life touched and moved so many in our nation to actually LIVE a purpose driven life! AWESOME!
Back to the Prayer of Jabez, that prayer is a simple prayer that we can all pray. He asks for four things. First, that he would be blessed.
The book touched on this a little but perhaps to some of us, that seems like a selfish request. "Oo oo Lord, me, me! Bless ME!" That request can become very UN-selfish with a quick refocus. Do we want God to bless us for our own good, or to bless us in order to do HIS work?
Request number two: Enlarge my territory.... "The next part... is where you ask God to enlarge your life so you can make a greater impact for Him." That reminds me of something I have heard over and over again: Sometimes, being a Christian means being uncomfortable. Living as one isn't ALWAYS going to be smooth sailing. No way. In fact, it's supposed to be uncomfortable sometimes. It requires us to reach out to those untouchables, to those who look like they might bite your head off or turn and run the other direction. It requires for us to speak up when on one else will, to stand up when everyone else sits for the wrong cuase, and to bow your head when everyone else starts right into the meal. It requires us to say, "Hey, do you want to come to church with me next Sunday?" (compliments of Luke's post ;-) Those things may seem to be easy to talk about doing, but when it comes down to the moment... where is our strength? WHERE is our strength? From WHO comes our strength? If we are on fire for God, it's no problem. And with a prayer like this, the opportunities WILL be there. But where are we?
Third request..."that your hand would be with me..." Nice lead-in. We can't do the above paragraph without Christ. We need His help. The author of the Prayer of Jabez talked about a time where he took on an enormous challenge... one in which he most obviously needed Christ's help... but he felt overwhelmed, baffled, and weak. Upon being counseled by an older man, he heard, "'Son...that feeling you are running from is called dependence. It means you're walking with the Lord Jesus... actually, the second you're not feeling dependent is the second you've backed away from truly living by faith.'... It's a frightening and utterly exhilarating truth, isn't it? As God's chosen, blessed sons and daughters, we are expected to attempt something large enough that failure is guaranteed...unless God steps in." That says it.
Request number four. "That you would keep me from pain, that I would not cause evil!" The book talks about how we sometimes count it as a blessing when there is no temptations or trials that are huge in our lives going on. Everything seems easy. Now, that may be a great thing, but it may also be a very BAD thing. Do you ever realize that whenever you seem to start doing great... floating up there on cloud nine with a piece of chocolate cake and some pretty harp music and all... that you just come plummeting down and fall flat on your face? Yeah, that's how Satan likes to play the game. He has us in the palm of his hand sometimes because we think we are doing JUST fine and then he hits us where it hurts, and when we LEAST expect it. He is crafty, and knows our weaknesses. Do we pray to God to help us overcome temptation? BEFORE hand? Something that I have discovered lately is that I need to forsee my temptation. I'm not saying that I get my crystal ball out and look into the future of my life to plan on when I should ask for God's help... no, not at all. But I know my weaknesses and I know that there are certain things that I'll feel tempted about, let's say, TOMORROW, even if I don't feel tempted at the current moment. So i pray right then and there for God's grace, mercy and help, kind of to prepare myself for what lies ahead.
Satan is powerful. But God is more powerful. The temptation or trial or struggle that seems IMPOSSIBLE to overcome... may certainly be. But with God's power, it is not. Yet we still gotta ask. God wants to help us... are we willing to be helped?
Sorry this got so long, but as you can see, the prayer of Jabez is basically 4 main requests wrapped up into a very cool but very simple unit. If we could learn to pray this prayer in our lives... how amazing would that be!
I reccommend the book, The Prayer of Jabez, to anyone who hasn't read it. And also to those who have... read it again! It doesn't get old.
I love you all! Thanks for reading...
And by the way, for those of you who do make it through my posts like these, I'm sorry if I get kinda "preachy." :-) I just get really excited sometimes and I like to just write out all my thoughts, and if I can encourage even just one person, that's great! If not, though, it certainly helps me to have this in writing so I can better oganize the stuff going on up in my head.