There are mornings when I’m just not feeling it. During my prayer time, as I review the plan for the day, I say to God, (out loud sometimes), “Remind me again, why me?”
Those are the days I write it out.
I turn to a fresh page in my journal and continue the conversation. For instance, here’s a recent entry with my annotations in italics:
First I write a question I have for God: What good do I have to offer this day?
My fierce clarity. (I know!) I never have fierce clarity.
My deep wisdom. (I know!) The ‘I knows’ are me turning to a friend and saying “Can you believe God is saying this?”
My dedication to Christ’s Church. (I know!) This sounds a little more earnest than I usually am.
My savvy and unwillingness to put up with stuff. ( I know!) Again, not my usual M.O.
My subversive intentions. Now that’s more like it.
The effect of all this is to claim the gifts that seem beyond me but that God can give. And often does.
“When they bring you to trial and hand you over, do not worry beforehand about what you are to say; but say whatever is given you at that time, for it is not you who speak, but the Holy Spirit,” Jesus tells his followers in Mark 13:11 [NRSV]. Even when the one bringing you to trial is your own self-concern.
In a technology-driven world where there is always something for which there is an app and people are ever in search of a life hack to overcome a problem, it’s easy to see why God has become an after-thought. If we don’t have the words, we’ve come to believe that it’s on us. We just haven’t learned the right trick to get us through.
But Jesus knows the dangers of relying on our competence. The words we need are not within us but given to us. Our most effective practice is to trust that God will provide…that the Holy Spirit will speak.
When I visit churches I sometimes…no, often…get a whiff of anxious desperation in our worship and work. Because the culture no longer credits the church with the prominence it once had, we have lost confidence in what we have to offer. Is it really a killer product if nobody’s buying? Maybe, we think, we should round off the rough edges and downplay the parts of the Christian message that don’t go down easy. Maybe we should make Jesus more user-friendly.
Newspaper editors call it “burying the lede” when a writer tells an interesting story without highlighting the main point. We’re in danger of burying the leader. (BTW-It’s been tried before. #emptytomb)
What I pray for Sunday mornings and beyond is a warm and gracious invitation to a mystery that isn’t easy to understand or live into. I pray for a community that isn’t worried about what it thinks it doesn’t have, but instead recognizes that it has all it needs in the gospel of Jesus. God used Balaam’s donkey. God can use our willing hands, too.
My other journal exercise on days when I’m not feeling it is to allow the negative voices in my head to have free reign. I write down all the reasons why I don’t have any good to offer this day. And then I write—all caps—LIES. Because they are. And I’m a savvy guy who has a God-given unwillingness not to put up with stuff like that.