“Do not pray for easy lives,” wrote Phillip Brooks, “Pray to be stronger men and women. Do not pray for tasks equal to your powers. Pray for powers equal to your tasks.”
I love this quote. I just came across it the other day and knew I would write about it in my next post. I am currently studying the book of Acts and I am reading a commentary by Warren Wiersby and I found this quote in there. I will be honest here and say that I have not done this. Well, I am now. But I had not been praying that way at all. I was praying for endurance, strength, help and healing. I was not praying for POWER.
Now, Lord, consider their threats and enable Your servants to speak Your Word with great boldness. Stretch out Your hand to heal and perform miraculous signs and wonders through the Name of Your Holy servant Jesus. Acts 4:29-30
This is the ending of what is considered the Believers’ Prayer. This is the beginning of the church and they were asking for more power. They were not praying for protection – and mind you many, many people were out to kill them. They did not pray for guidance – they knew the great Commission. They prayed for great boldness. Power. And God answered that prayer immediately. The place where they were meeting started to shake and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke the Word of God boldly (Acts 4:31). True confessions are due. I spend way too much time on praying for protection, guidance and healing and not enough time on boldness and the desire for more of His Holy Spirit power. If you have read the book of Acts, you would know that these men and women of the early church were an amazing group. I want to operate in power and not in self-absorption. It is so easy to get wrapped in our own pain and miss what God is doing in and around us. I know that I am guilty of this all the time. I can be consumed by my pain and forget that life goes on. When it gets especially bad, hours can pass without my awareness. So, I am asking God, right now, to fill me with power and boldness - to be an useful living sacrifice for Him.
Now, to the title of this post. Un ave is the word for bird in Spanish and our family was told a little parable about birds the other week. Our pastor friend, Pastor Fito, from Zacatecas, Mexico, was here visiting. My husband had gone down to Mexico last October, and spent some incredible time ministering to the Huichol Indians. He had met Pastor Fito and was amazed at the power of God in this man’s life. So, when he came to California, I wanted to meet him. My husband was not wrong. Pastor Fito is a man of Holy Spirit power. He is a very humble man, yet he is tapped into the Spirit. It was good to be nudged in my walk with God. It was good to hear of miracles happening on the field. It was awesome to hear battle stories of victory over darkness. We prayed together, laughed together, struggled for Spanish and English (my Spanish, his English) and we sang together. It felt like Acts chapter 2.
He related a story to us (my family) that speaks to times of trouble. It was so timely, and struck a chord with me. He had us picture a single bird. A small bird, the size of a robin. Then he had us look at this bird’s anatomy, focusing on the feet. He told of a very fierce storm. Howling wind that whips full-grown trees around like straws. Unrelenting power. Now with this in mind, he told how the little bird holds onto a branch with his feet. He wraps his feet around a branch, he bends his knees and hangs on tight. The branch may sway any way it wants, yet the bird is still holding on. He does not let go, he grips harder. Without the bent knees he would never be able to hold on. In the midst of a storm, the bird holds fast to his anchor. He trusts, he waits, he endures.
But be very careful to keep the commandment and the law that Moses the servant of the LORD gave you: to love the LORD your God, to walk in all His ways, to obey His commands, to hold fast to Him and to serve Him with all your heart and all your soul. Joshua 22:5
When Pastor Fito shared the story of the bird, I knew God was talking to me. He was telling me that I am in a storm and I need to hold fast to Him. He is my anchor, He is my firm foundation. The storm is going to howl, but it will not come near my tent (Psalm 91:10). I did not even realize that I was in the storm at the time. It had been building and when I wrote my last post, it all came together that the storm was officially upon me. It had been brewing, the storm clouds were there, and now it broke loose.
My family and I went camping to our favorite spot this last weekend. Up in the Sierra Mountain range at about 7500 feet. What is amazing is the amount of snow you can still see up on the high peaks. And, we saw wildflowers that I have not seen before. It was extremely hot at home (100-101 degrees), so we were grateful to escape the heat. We can see these mountains from our home and we can also see the thunder clouds forming. We had been watching them the last few days, wondering if it was raining up there. On Friday night as we made our way into our trailer from my brother-in-law’s site (notice that I said ‘trailer’ not ‘tent’ – those days are over for me!!) we witnessed a beautiful thunder storm. The clouds had been billowing, forming and the sunset was
gorgeous as it turned them into a purple, grey, pink mass. Now, they put on a show. And what was even more spectacular was the Milky Way that was shining just to the left of the clouds. We had very bright lightening on the one hand and the Milky Way on the other. It was hard to know which way to look. We had to try to look down because we were all using one very small flashlight to light our way back to camp. I was thinking about storms, blog posts and the power of God when I saw and experienced this. Do you know what? God is amazing. He is also very powerful. And He loves me. Us. He made the heavens and the earth. They tell of His glory (Psalm 19) and they proclaim the work of His hands. So why would it be any different in a storm in my own life? It shouldn’t be. It isn’t. His glory is being shown in this storm. His Sovereignty is loudly proclaiming the work of His hands in my life. If I obey Him then it is obvious not only to me, but to others as well. I can hide, go into the storm cellar, (think Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz), or I can clamp down on the branch and hold fast to Jesus.
Wait a minute.
Didn’t Jesus say that He is the vine and we are the branches? In John 15 He explains what it means to abide in the vine – Him. The nature of a vine is that it grows, has branches and bears fruit. Jesus is the vine and He makes us His branches. He does it all. Our part – the cling on. The branch is not any good if it is cut off. And Jesus talks about that in verses 2-4. The branch can only grow AND bear fruit if it is in the vine. To make it more fruitful, the gardener prunes it. Pruning hurts the vine, but that pain is
temporary in light of the fruit. What I love most about this teaching is verse 7 – If you remain in Me and My words remain in you, ASK WHATEVER YOU WISH AND IT WILL BE GIVEN YOU (emphasis mine). Do you see the incredible promise given to the branch that clings onto the vine? The branch does not let go. In the fiercest storms, he holds on. I live where there are lots and lots of grapes. I see this on a daily basis. In fact, my house is surrounded by vines. I have learned a lot about this parable by just looking across our property. When we have a summer storm I do not see branches lying all over the ground. Quite the opposite. I see branches firmly intact and fruit still attached. Did you catch that? Fruit still attached. Don’t you see? In the fiercest storm, we can hold fast to our Saviour, give Him glory, and still have fruit. And do you know what that fruit is? The fruit of the Spirit – love, joy, peace, patience, etc. Let me break this down. As I hold fast during a storm, holding onto Jesus with everything that I’ve got, the winds may howl, I might lose a few branches, but the fact of the matter is I’m still attached to the vine and the fruit is still intact. Yummy, delicious fruit usable to satisfy hunger. Sweet to the soul and spirit. That goes so against our human nature. But, then, we were not meant for this world after all. So, then hold fast my dear ones. Hold fast.
I did not want one thing to be forgotten. The emphasis that I put in John 15:7. I can ask whatever I wish and it will be given me. So, what do I ask? Protection? Guidance? Healing? No. I ask for power. His Sovereign Holy Spirit power. I want that more than anything. Because it is more of Him. And I need that so desperately in this storm.