Spiritual Autobiography and the Easy Button
12/9/2012 4:14 PM
I am reflecting on a women's retreat I attended. The presenter said that receiving what you want from God is easy: like pressing that Easy Button you see in those Staples Ads. It was an encouraging message. I liked the idea that I could get what I wanted from God and get it easily. Believing it was that easy, for a while anyway, filled me with new zeal for life. The problem wasn't that God wouldn't give me what I asked for when I prayed. I just wasn't asking him with the right level of faith. I just needed to believe it was easy and all my hopes and wishes would be granted. Everything was going to fall right into place now. NOT!
Good grief, I should know better. The times in my life when God was closest to me were always the times when I was falling apart. He didn't fix everything. He just stayed by my side like a loyal friend. He made it all bearable. He put my trials in the context of His plan for my life. But, "easy" would not be the adjective I would use to describe it all. These times were terribly hard. And God certainly didn't magically grant answers to all my prayer requests.
Brutal. Life can be brutal. When I pray, sometimes things get even more brutal. This is not an easy world or an easy life. I've been blessed with a reprieve from terrible suffering. It's been about five years of being afflicted with just the regular stuff life throws at you. Now I just watch other people deal with the brutality of life, and I pray for them. The answers are the same: God draws near like a loyal friend, but He rarely offers an Easy Button.
My spiritual journal continues to be a place where I explore the mysteries of my spiritual life. My spiritual autobiography, or my spiritual story, continues to ebb and flow. I consider my relationship with God through spiritual journaling, and I share an occasional insight when the opportunity knocks. What I discover, and what I have to share, through spiritual journaling tends to be the opposite of what I learned about the Easy Button on my women's retreat. I'd love it if I could say that prayer has easy answers, but I don't believe that. Believing in the Easy Button is like believing in Santa Claus: it’s just not real. I'd like to share a story of hope delivered to your doorstep and mine, but I believe that story would be a lie. My spiritual memoir, my spiritual story, is gritty and messy and that's the truth. I hate to say it, but it’s likely the truth for you too.
Say it. Go ahead and say it: I don't have enough faith, I don't ask with authority or I must have some hidden sin in my life. Or, tell me I'm in the middle of a spiritual attack and I'm losing. Go ahead and say it. Say it all. And, all of what you say will be true. But these are not the reasons why God doesn't make it easy for me. I'm not perfect and I haven't arrived, but God still answers my prayers even though I'm not a saint. I don't have less spiritual power because I make, and have made, mistakes. Sinners aren't at the end of God' prayer list. Sinners aren't the only ones without the Easy Button.
Sorry if you were hoping I'd offer you all the happy, hopeful answers. Perhaps you were looking for a warm fuzzy and some promises of incredible joy and peace? You'll have to read someone else's blog. All I have for you is a God who draws near when you are hurting and becomes your loyal friend. If that's not what you’re looking for, I have a women's retreat you can attend. When you arrive, you'll be given a button you can press that will make everything in your life nice and easy.
Ok, so I'm being a little more than judgmental here. A nice lady delivers a message of hope and encouragement, and I blow her message to bits. I'll be fair. Everyone can benefit from a little hope, and often our faith is rewarded with an instant miracle. Retreat Speaker Woman has a point. We could all use a little more faith in God's power to move instantaneously on our petitions. And, who can't benefit from an increase in faith? Some days we could all use an Easy Button, and sometimes God is happy to provide us with one. I guess the important thing to remember is that when we pray, God draws close like a loyal friend. Maybe miracles don’t come easy, but God drawing close when we need him is the part we can always count on.