The challenge of walking with the God who knows me  

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Names changed throughout except in some cases where the person involved has been or is in ministry.

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If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. 2 Cor 5:17

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1 John 5:14

“This is the confidence we have in approaching God: That if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us.”

The University Christian Union was holding a mission and I had been invited to help out one of the groups.  They were a good group, and I got along well with them.  We spent a bit of time together before the mission and on one occasion I joined their mid week Bible study.  There we had a time of prayer and with the mission coming up we obviously spent some time praying for that, for the events, for protection, and that above all some people would come to know Jesus.  I remember that as I prayed for protection, I thought to myself – Derek, your not really taking this as seriously, as the need warrants.  If I was serious about what I prayed for, it would not be a quick thirty second mentioning of the subject but rather spending extensive time before God.  But then, here I was just before a major mission, with other responsibilities to look after in my own ministry, and I just did not see that I had the time.  It was some time before I learnt that sometimes one has to ditch the important and imminent in order to give time for the strategic.

The time came for the mission - A great whirl of events with very little time to sit back and take stock.  Things seemed to be going reasonably well when I received a phone call from Eva.  The steering lock of our car had jammed.  The key could not be turned and the car was stranded in the doctor’s car park.  So now, when there really was not time I had to miss some events and go off to try and resolve a problem quite late at night with a steering lock.  It had been sticking on and off for some time, but with the cold weather things were worse and I could not free it.  I eventually managed and got the car home.  It was not for long, the next day it did it again and my wife had to call out a lock smith.

All of this activity did not help me with the mission.  It would obviously have been better not to have a problem and a concern of this type at this time.  Yet in the end, it was a good indication of where my priorities were.  Here I was going into a mission and my main concern was not Jesus, but his work.  I was more concerned with logistics and activity than I was about him.  When it came to the list of things that needed to be done I went first and foremost for the activities, the responsibilities.  In that kind of environment there is only really time to do the most important thing well.  Those that are left to second place are not given much space at all.  So it was that although I was praying, my prayers were more the sort of prayers that fulfilled the objective of “Have I prayed today?” as against a genuine seeking after God.

It seems that maybe God was content to let that which I had set as a priority – meetings and logistics, become interrupted by this problem with the car.  I had set his work as a priority over him and it was fitting that he, whose work it was supposed to be, should remind me that in his work he should set the priorities.  My prayers should not just have been requests, they should have had a context of seeking God’s face, of approaching him.