Six Words from Jesus

Part excitement, part hope, part pessimism, part exhaustion, part stress, part fear, and part happiness.  That’s my SECRET CAMPUS MINISTRY RECIPE for beginning-of-the-school -year anxiety. I am an anxiety mutt, I guess.

Last August as I was driving to the U of A during the first week of classes I was feeling burdened by this special brand of anxiety when I heard God’s still small voice.

I just want you to pray. 

So while I circled through the parking garage I threw up a prayer to God – prayer for our students, prayer to meet freshmen, prayer to Glorify God.  Amen.

I didn’t feel like this quenched The Spirit’s demand on me to pray, not nearly,  but I had supplies to haul and students to meet and the Gospel to share – Kingdom work was waiting for me!

These six words of invitation from God were six words I had heard before.  Multiple times, actually, over the previous year or so and always in the same still, small voice.

I just want you to pray. 

And I would pray.  Really, I would!  But of the fast and furious variety so that I could move on to the next activity that was calling my attention.

Confession:  praying is hard for me.

I am a do-er.

I don’t like sitting around planning or talking, when I could be out doing (I’m a pretty strong ‘J’ for you myers-briggs folks)

I don’t like sitting around praying, when I could be out doing.

Yet, every year it seems I would dig up this verse from Psalm 127 for our students.

 Unless the Lord builds the house,
the builders labor in vain.

Remember you guys, this is God’s work. 

Of course it is God’s work. And of course I acknowledge that, in all areas of my life.

Always.

But really, God is up there in Heaven and there are only 24 hours in a day so I better make this prayer brief.  I better get to discipling, I better get to that meeting, I better get moving.  There is ministry to do!  And I am good at that ministry.  I am competent.  I am skilled.  I am gifted. 

And, um, haven’t you heard?  The harvest is plenty, but the workers are few.  So let me squeak out that 5 minute prayer while I search for my parking space because prayer is nice and all, but someone has to get the job done…

As I went about my over-scheduled business last year those six still, small words from Jesus haunted me.  Absolutely haunted me.

I just want you to pray.

OKAY!  I would reply, like an exasperated teenager being nagged one too many times by their mother.  FINE!

Again,I knew the Spirit’s request was not nearly quenched in the frenzied prayers I would toss up, but somehow I was the one left feeling thirsty.

Finally, during a prayer time (ha ha, very funny God) during which I was trying to clarify (are you sure God?  Really sure?  Completely sure?) whether He was in fact leading me to leave campus ministry work (He was sure.  Completely) he also gave me the understanding to interpret those six words, because OBVIOUSLY I wasn’t getting it.

I just want you to pray. 

I only want you to pray.

I don’t want you to disciple.  I don’t want you to plan meetings.  I don’t want you to lead bible studies.   I don’t want you to teach.  I don’t want you to train.  I don’t want you on campus.

Kirsten, I just want you to pray. 

And so here I find myself off campus and it has clearly been the right decision, but I have had to do some lamenting in stepping away from a ministry and a campus and students that I love.

When Jon came home the other night and was debriefing his day regarding New Student Outreach efforts, as usual there were exciting reports and challenging reports and I just wanted to jump in and get my hands dirty so bad.  I saw where I would be useful, where I was needed.

…Maybe I can just meet up with that girl.  Maybe I can just plan a small group outline for you.  Maybe I can fill an hour slot of outreach.  Maybe I can text some freshmen…

What I wanted to do was react and control and compensate for what I thought God should be doing. But as always he was doing something, he was doing something in me.  

I just want you to pray. 

FINE!

While leaving campus work was in large part a decision for my children and marriage, God is teaching me more and giving me more.  

See, Jesus doesn’t want my fingerprints on the chapter. He doesn’t want my fingerprints on the bible studies or the large groups or the outreach or even the students.

Jesus wants HIS fingerprints on them.  His, not mine.

So after Jon shared with me the other night I heeded God’s word to me.

I prayed, and boy oh boy it was a struggle of a prayer because I didn’t want to sit and pray, I wanted to get up and do.  It was a struggle because I didn’t know the right words.  It was a struggle because sometimes I lack faith and I am afraid of being disappointed.

It was a struggle because if I am being honest I LOVE  LOVE LOVE the way my fingerprints look and want to see more of them.

But I knew what God wanted of me, so I used what words I could find, and whatever words I was lacking, I let the Spirit pray for me. 

Prayer is surrender.

Prayer is painful.

Prayer is desperation.

Prayers can be short (Help. Thanks. Wow. says Anne Lamott).

Prayers can be long.

Prayer is faith.

Prayer is taking our hands off of something, usually something we love deeply and dearly – like our children, our friends, our passions, our work, our ministries – and asking God’s hands to be on it instead.

It is true that God invites us to be his hands and feet and that is a joy, and I can’t very well quit ALL my jobs (there are those two children to consider…)  But asking God to move will always be better than me moving.

Prayer is admitting, even on our most useless of days but especially on our most competent of days, that unless the Lord builds the house, the workers labor in vain.

Unless the Lord watches over the city,
the watchman stays awake in vain.
It is in vain that you rise up early
and go late to rest,
eating the bread of anxious toil;
for he gives to his beloved sleep.

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4 thoughts on “Six Words from Jesus

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