Monday, April 22, 2013

The Circle Maker Part 7 : Is There a Limit to God's Power + the Second Circle (Chapter 7)

After a bit of a respite, we are back in action with Mark Batterson's The Circle Maker, and today we find ourselves in chapter seven. In this chapter, Batterson poses a question that God actually poses to us.

"Is there a limit to My power?"

Even though we know that the right answer to that question is "No," we still sometimes live like we think the answer is "Yes." And that is a problem. The issue is that when we believe that our problems are just too big for God or that our sin was just too bad, then we are really (though we might not ever admit it) saying that God is just not strong enough, powerful enough, big enough to deal with whatever we are bringing to the table. I think this is something most of us struggle with to some degree. I know we certainly do here in the Knott household. Adam and I have had this discussion on numerous occasions, and it ALWAYS ends with one of us reminding the other that when we doubt whether God can handle our problems, we are actually doubting His power. And when we doubt whether God can forgive or has forgiven our sins, we are questioning the power of the Cross. Not good either way.

So this is what Batterson is drawing our attention to in this chapter.

"God is omnipotent, which means by definition, there is nothing God cannot do. Yet many of us pray as if our problems are bigger than God. So let me remind you of this high-octane truth that should fuel your faith: God is infinitely bigger than your biggest problem or biggest dream. And while we're on the topic, His grace is infinitely bigger than your biggest sin."

I have talked before about our need, as humankind, for a high view of God. It is something that our pastor addresses a lot. He often quotes A.W. Tozer, and Batterson references him, as well, in this chapter. Tozer asserts that a having a high view of God is the solution to a thousand temporal problems.

We have to believe that God is able. While I say that, I must also say that it is important to note the difference between CAN and WILL. God absolutely CAN do anything and everything. But we do not always know if He WILL. Now, we might think that He should, but He alone knows what the future holds for each of us, and that makes Him very uniquely qualified to decide what is best for us. For example, if you have been reading this blog for any length of time, you know that I am ready to have my sweet babies home from Ethiopia yesterday. But that has not happened. You might know that I prayed specifically for a May 2013 referral. Well, May 2013 is peeking its head around the corner, and we are not exactly at the top of the list. I am not going to sit here and tell you that I am not disappointed. I am. I am sad that we are still so far away from having our sweet ones home. But am I upset that I prayed about it? No. Does this make me doubt God's ability? Not at all. I know that a May 2013 referral could still happen. I know God CAN do it. But I do not know if He WILL do it.

Still, even in the midst of that I know that whatever He chooses to do will be what is best. That does not mean that I get a free pass to stop praying. There are days when it is hard. Days when I adopt the, "Well, He is just going to do what He is going to do, so why bother praying about it!" attitude. Not a healthy choice and certainly not my more graceful moments. As a true believer in the power of God, I must continue to pray and trust.

You might remember that the first circle in The Circle Maker was Dream Big. In chapter seven, Batteron introduces the second circle: Pray Hard. He opens with the story of the persistent widow. In case you are not familiar with the story, here it is:

Then Jesus told his disciples a parable to show them that they should always pray and not give up. He said: “In a certain town there was a judge who neither feared God nor cared what people thought. And there was a widow in that town who kept coming to him with the plea, ‘Grant me justice against my adversary.’ 
 “For some time he refused. But finally he said to himself, ‘Even though I don’t fear God or care what people think,  yet because this widow keeps bothering me, I will see that she gets justice, so that she won’t eventually come and attack me!’”
And the Lord said, “Listen to what the unjust judge says. And will not God bring about justice for his chosen ones, who cry out to him day and night? Will he keep putting them off? I tell you, he will see that they get justice, and quickly. However, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on the earth?” Luke 18:1-8

Jesus used this parable to show His disciples the importance of praying hard for something. This is a difficult thing. I will be the first to confess that I have grown weary in the wait here lately, and a part of me has given in to the "what happens, happens" attitude. I need to let go of that. So my reading of this chapter was providentially timed. 

Batterson also reminds us that the Spirit is constantly interceding for us. What an incredibly humbling thought. The Holy Spirit is praying to God the Father on my behalf. And yet there are days when I cannot bring myself to pray. Oh how I recognize my sin in these moments. But my gracious God is using these moments to refine me, to turn me into the woman, the wife, the mother He desires me to be. 

I want to leave you with one final thought from the very end of chapter seven. 

"God isn't just for you in some passive sense; God is for you in the most active sense imaginable. The Holy Spirit is praying hard for you, and supernatural synchronicities begin to happen when we tag-team with God and do the same."

This jumped off the page (OK, screen of my Kindle) and hit me in the chest. God is on my side. He loves me, wants what is best for me, and is working my life in that direction. He is not just some generally good God floating up in the clouds. No, no, no. He is a personal God. A God who works His way into your heart and mind and soul. A God who sticks by you regardless of how many times you fail. And this same God is the One who is for you. He is FOR you. 

Questions to consider: 

1. How do you view God's power? Sufficient? Barely enough? All-consuming? 

2. What are your feelings about prayer? 

3. How does your view of God's power impact the way you pray? 

4. What might need to change about how you view God? 

5. What is the thing you have been praying for? Do you truly believe that God is able to do it? Can you trust Him to do what is best, even if it is not what you want? (This is a tough one!!) 


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