Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Looking a Gift Horse in the Mouth

Do you know how to make one million dollars raising horses? Well, you have start with three million dollars . . .

About a week ago, I was presented with (ahem, uhmmm, errr . . .) the ‘opportunity’ to own a couple of horses. We have lived out the country on a few acres for several years and we’ve occasionally talked about having horses (our kids especially have talked about it). But we’ve never seriously pursued it and we weren’t exactly ‘in the market’ for horses.
Nonetheless, the opportunity presented itself: Two horses became available for the combined price of – ‘free’. After briefly discussing the opportunity with my wife, we determined that the price was too good to pass up. So we borrowed a friend’s horse trailer and fetched us a couple of horses.
On our way home, we started thinking about all of the things we now needed to buy in order to ‘enjoy’ owning horses: halters, ropes, saddles, bridles, blankets, brushes (for starters). We started talking about the cost to get one of them ‘gelded’, the cost of a farrier, the veterinary expenses, the additional hay, etc. Soon our heads were spinning in anticipation of what these ‘free’ horses were going to cost us.
And then my wife asked me, “Did we ever really pray about whether or not to get these horses”? Of course not – they were free! It must have been God’s will for us to get them, right?
Then it hit me that we really let the situation dictate our course of action rather than consulting with God and making sure we were on the same page as Him. Our main thought process, I think, was that we needed to commit to getting those ‘free’ horses before someone else did. Mind you – we are not typically what you would call ‘spontaneous’ people. Yet we let the apparent urgency of the situation dictate our decision rather than whether or not horses (free or otherwise) really fit in to God’s plan for us.
Pretty silly, huh?
Well, unfortunately, I don’t think that was the first time I’ve made a decision without even thinking about taking it God first.
But is God really that concerned with whether or not we got the horses? I think the answer is probably both ‘yes’ and ‘no’.
Because of God’s immeasurable love for us and the fact that He is sovereign over every thing that happens, He definitely cares about the smallest of details in our daily lives. Does that mean that we should ask God whether we should order the Quarterpounder or the Big Mac at lunch? Well – I’m not sure we’ll get an audible answer from Him on that, but I think He wants us to care about whether or not our decisions (no matter how small they appear to be) will be made with Him in our consideration (or, rather, with Him as our primary consideration).
So often we look at ‘prayer’ as the means to get God to tell us how to act, what to do, where to go, etc. But prayer is primarily the means of our communing with God – deepening our personal relationship with Him. Yes – He is concerned with the choices we make, but primarily He is concerned with our living the lives He has called us to live. We can best achieve that by constantly consulting with the One who has the best plan for us.
In his book, The Calling, Os Guinness makes clear that the most important calling on our lives is the call to Someone (God) – not to ‘something’ (a particular career, ministry, etc) or ‘somewhere’ (the deep, dark African mission field). Once we have accepted that calling, he tells us that “everyone, everywhere, and in everything should think, speak, live, and act entirely for [H]im” (emphasis added).
How do we ‘think, speak, live, and act entirely for Him’? We are told that “[t]he LORD is with you when you are with him. If you seek him, he will be found by you” (1 Chronicles 15:2). And the best way to ‘be’ with Him and to ‘seek’ Him is - prayer.
While it is certainly appropriate to find a quiet corner of a closet, lie prostrate on the floor, raise your hands, close your eyes, etc. for certain prayer times, such ‘restrictions’ on your prayers would dictate that very little time would actually be spent communing with God. Even a true ‘prayer warrior’ would spend only a fraction of their day communing with God.
Instead, the Bible tells us to pray all the time - 1 Thessalonians 5:17 says: pray continually (NIV), never stop praying (NLT), pray without ceasing (NASB). When we live out our lives in the realization that He is constantly with us and that we can constantly commune directly with Him, then we can begin to see ‘prayer’ as the vehicle with allows us to ‘think, speak, live, and act entirely for Him’.

Did God want us to go and get those ‘free’ horses? I’m not sure.
But I am sure that He wanted us to consider Him in making the decision.
He wanted us to pray. Continually.

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