The Best Way to Look at Your Imperfect Life and Unanswered Prayers

Prologue:

Can a risky interpretation of Matthew 13:24-30 and a clue-providing chorus really help me better accept my imperfections, life’s unfairness, and unanswered prayers, while also increasing my understanding of Matthew 6:22-23 (19-34) and 2 Corinthians 4:7 and 12:7-9?

(What follows is an original journal entry, refined only slightly to enhance reading.) 

12FEB2016

Today’s God Time quickly got into the Word.  While praying, I referenced Matt. 13’s parable of the weeds, which Jesus clearly explained as being about the world, the sons of God versus the sons of the devil, and the end of the age (vv.37-43).

Quality Bible study methods warn me to leave well enough alone.  I still see, though, in this parable a more personal/internal application.  (Trusting I’m not guilty of eisegesis!)

God plants His purely good seed within us, but the devil also plants his evil in us.  These evil seeds, or “weeds,” are the various life challenges that happen to us—like child abuse, rape, bad habits/addictions, poorly-formed childhood conclusions, sickness/disability, etc.—that negatively affect us for the rest of our lives.  The devil’s goal with these seed-events is to destroy us spiritually.

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A weed in a wheat field.

Now, sometimes God removes these life-hindering/-robbing weeds, but as in this parable, He does not.  In His great wisdom He knows when a weed can be removed without harming the harvest of His desired goal and when such removal will ruin it.

 

I then thought of Paul’s repeated prayer for a “thorn in [his] flesh” to be removed (2 Cor. 12:7-9).  God did not answer this prayer as Paul desired; instead, He left it where it was, replying that His grace is sufficient and that His “power is made perfect in weakness” (v.9 NIV).

While thinking of these two passages, I also thought of Paul’s earlier words about having “this treasure in jars of clay” (2 Cor. 4:7 NIV).  While I can’t quickly pinpoint (without further study of the passage) exactly what Paul meant by “treasure,” it clearly has to do with God’s awesomeness, the gospel message, etc.

An old chorus[1] that says, “It is Christ in you, the hope of glory, …” seems informative in defining this treasure.  And truly, the fact that God would dwell within us, that He would entrust to us His wonderful message of hope, is like putting the world’s most magnificent jewels not into a gold setting but into an old held-together-with-tape shoe box or a rumpled-up, salvaged paper bag!

jewel bag no glow
Photoshop work done by my daughter, using many CC-0 pictures from Pixabay.

So, back to the Matt 13 weeds among the wheat.  Sometimes we have to live within a less-than-ideal setting.  Sometimes we just have to work around the weeds in our lives.

It’s not perfect, yet according to Jesus’ parable, it does not have to adversely affect His desired harvest!  Couple this with what Paul teaches, and it’s truly amazing that despite our weaknesses, despite our thorns and the weeds in our lives, God’s Will is still accomplished!

So how does this tie in with Matt. 6:22-23 and singular vision?  Well, how many of us, like Paul, repeatedly pray for something we want, that we think would make life better and/or improve our ability to serve God?  …  How many of us are actually wanting and praying for something that’s not God’s perfect will?!

We’re wanting, focusing on, praying for something that does not align with what God wants and knows is best.  Enter Matthew 6 into my mind.  Our vision (what we want) is not aligned with God’s vision.

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Photo by Adventures with my dogs on Foter.com / CC BY-NC-ND

Some translations (like KJV) use the word “single” in v.22 instead of “good” (NKJV) or “healthy” (NIV) to describe the eyes (sight).  Good, healthy eyesight means not seeing double—having a singular view of whatever is before the eyes.

Seeing double means the eyes are not aligned and are not working together.  This condition is certainly frustrating to anyone who has it, limiting their ability to move through life with fluidity and speed, as they’re always unsure of where the object in front of them really is!

This is exactly our situation whenever we’re still clinging to, focusing on, wanting something that’s of this world or born from our carnal nature while still trying to do God’s will!  Our vision is split!

Consequently, we’re impeded and frustrated with our lack of progress in the things of God.  We’ve clouded/darkened everything because we’re trying to look at two different things.  We also skew our vision of one thing whenever we come at it from a worldly/carnal-nature paradigm.

We’ve got to remove the worldly/carnal viewpoint and get both our eyes aligned together.  (It’s like one eye is God’s viewpoint and the other is our own viewpoint.  Naturally, God’s “eye” is the correct, properly-seeing one.)[2]

No wonder Jesus goes on to say that we can’t serve both God and the worldly system (v. 24; this is my educated understanding of what “mammon” means; it’s more than just money).  To paraphrase what He said just before talking about the eyes:  whatever you value is where your desires will be focused on (vv. 19-21).  And as Lysa Terkeurst said in The Best Yes:  “we steer where we stare.”[3]

“We steer where we stare.”—Lysa Terkeurst

So, if we’re valuing what the world values, then we’re going to struggle as Christians with trying to get God’s values and our worldly values to align.  Good luck with that!  We must relinquish one or the other.

That’s why Jesus goes on to teach us to stop worrying about the things the world and carnal self tend to worry about or hold as a standard/goal.  Stop letting our attention be consumed with that paradigm.

Stop thinking I have to be perfectly healthy and/or I must have all of my life “act together” before I can accomplish God’s will for my life.  The world pursues this perfection; it’s their attempt to be independent of God and thus even become a god themselves.  (Not that this is foremost in their minds, but it’s what ultimately underlies all the pursuits that start with “If I just had more/better…”).

When we give up that worldly paradigm, then we will stop asking God for things that are not His will.  Like Paul, we’ll understand it’s a much more awesome, miraculous phenomenon that—amid all our lack, our weakness or brokenness, and all the other “weeds” and less-than-ideal situations of our lives—God is still able to work through us, using us to bring Him glory and draw others to Himself!

He is so awesome that He outshines the pathetic container He chooses to dwell in; and that in itself is part of the awesomeness!  As Paul said in 2 Cor 4:7, this treasure is in clay jars “to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us” (NIV).

jewel bag with shine
Photoshop work done by my daughter. (Contact me if you’d like her to do similar work for you!)

So, learn to be okay with the less-than-perfect in your life.  If God says “No” to the suggestion of pulling up your weeds, then quit focusing on it and learn from God how to take advantage of it for His glory.  Trust Him to know what needs to change and what needs to stay.  Start seeing things like He sees things and enjoy a clear, single vision that allows you to soar and move quickly into God’s vision for your life.

Thanks for reading!

PS:  Did I just figure out what the treasure is?!  😉

 

[1] Bill Ancira, “Christ In You” ©1985 Integrity’s Hosanna! Music.  Interestingly, this song is quoting Colossians 1:27!

[2] I wept over the thought of the multitude of Christians suffering with such double-vision:  declaring they want to do God’s Will while unwittingly (at best; consciously, at worst) still pursuing/focusing on worldly standards & ideals.  While I felt no specific conviction of how this applies to my personal life, I’m sure I wept for myself, too.

[3] Lysa Terkeurst, The Best Yes: Making Wise Decisions in the Midst of Endless Demands (Nashville, Tenn.: Nelson Books, an imprint of Thomas Nelson, registered trademarks of HarperCollins Christian Publishing, Inc.), p. 82.

Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Scripture quotations marked (NIV) are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide. http://www.zondervan.com The “NIV” and “New International Version” are trademarks registered in the United States Patent and Trademark Office by Biblica, Inc.™

4 thoughts on “The Best Way to Look at Your Imperfect Life and Unanswered Prayers

  1. I needed to read this. Thanks for sharing it. I spend too much time trying to make myself perfect and even to get others to like me that I lose sight of the one who I need to focus my eyes on. You are a wise woman with much to offer.

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    1. Awh, thanks for the compliment! I’m just so glad you found it helpful. That makes it worth the risk! I certainly appreciate God opening my eyes to all the truths I shared here; it’s changed the way I pray, how I view circumstances, and has calmed me down about imperfections. You mentioned that striving we all tend to do to gain acceptance. I especially thank God for liberating me from the death grip that had on me when I finally really “got it” that I am loved unconditionally and totally accepted by God and nobody else’s opinion ultimately matters. I pray you have that wonderful “aha!” moment as well! Be blessed, my friend!

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    1. Oh, I’m so glad to learn I’ve provided something that’s proving to be so helpful! And don’t forget: sometimes the no answer we perceive is actually God saying, “Not yet”. Today’s daily verse on my Bible app was 2 Peter 3:9, which tells us that God isn’t being slow to keep His promises for no reason. Perhaps the Lord had me think this spin-off thought just for you: He may put us on hold because He’s waiting for/working on something/-one else to get properly in place, so that the good thing we are waiting for will be all the more wonderful! So, my friend, “wait for it…!” 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

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