We are so trained by today’s Western Christian culture to avoid anything that’s hard or a struggle, and to run away from difficulty. Life has become all about making it as easy and yet as fulfilled as possible. We’re bombarded with ads from people who’ve figured out the secret to making money on the beach, or a new ‘get rich quick’ scheme. We are convinced that we shouldn’t have to work hard and nothing should ever be a struggle, and if it is – we’re doing it wrong.
A sentence that I find myself saying over and over is ‘the principles of the Kingdom are always the opposite fo the world’. I think this is as true as ever these days. There is a strange juxtaposition of the millennial over-emotional state, and ‘owning’ their emotions, while also not wanting to engage the wrestling match that God calls us up to. It seems strange to me that people are so willing to fight for a culture that gives permission to any and all emotions at any time, while also having this sense of entitlement to an easy life.
I would suggest that the most effective prayer we can be praying is that God would simply break us. It’s a dangerous and serious prayer – because God will do it. He is always looking for a fully surrendered heart, one that is mouldable and teachable, and more often than not – he needs to break some stuff in order to mould and teach.
We are experts in crafting this cocoon around ourselves. We take great care of this mask. It’s what we present to the world as the real us. It’s what we present to God as the real us. Some of us actually spend more time on mainting the mask than the heart behind it. We think we can con the world around us that this beautifully presented, ‘instagram-able’ mask is real, and more to the point, we think we can con God.
When we pray these dangerous prayers expecting God to gently massage our mask and be happy that we’ve prayed the prayer. But God isn’t interested in the mask. He didn’t make it. We did. God is only interested in his creations, those that have eternal value – our souls.
We so often look at the events that bring us to our knees as bad things. We ask God to release us, rescue us, take us OUT, “make it stop’“! But we don’t realise that the events we’re walking through are connected to the prayers we’ve prayed!
What if God is allowing us to be smashed by the storm, because he is trying to answer that prayer for “MORE” that we prayed? Maybe he’s allowing these waves to break off the cocoon of junk we’ve plastered all over ourselves, because he needs to reach what’s beneath it – the beautiful creation he wants to connect with. Could it be that he’s not actually breaking us so much as stripping off the mask we’ve presenedt to him, so that the real us can commune with him?
I don’t believe God ever destroys his own creation – not since the flood when he promised he wouldn’t do it again. Therefore, I don’t believe God would ever break the essence of a person. I believe we have become so attached to the mask that we can no longer tell the difference between it and us, so when God allows it to break, we feel it. It’s become a part of who we think we are – but it’s not.
The mask is a man made impression of a person, based on what we think the world wants us to be. It’s a plastic counterfeit of a supernatural and eternal treasure. How can we possibly out-create the creator?
Maybe God is so committed to partnering with the created version of you, that he’s willing to allow you to walk through the storm you’re in, because he knows it’s the only way the mask will come unstuck. Maybe God is so heartbroken that we think our version of ourselves is better than his, that he’s guided us straight into the desert so that we can be confronted with the real, unmasked, raw version of ourselves and become reacquainted with it, so that he can too.
Maybe God is longing to pierce the masquerade we present, and takes our prayers for ‘more Lord’!’ as an invitation of pursuit. He is willing to pursue the innermost part of you that is his image, to the ends of time, because he knows how it can impact the world, and partner with him for the Kingdom.
The secret is to pray “break me”…
This article originally appeared on Simcha Natan’s blog, May 13, 2019, and reposted with permission.