Being the person God intended (instead of only praying for arms and legs)
By Mike Griffith ~ prepared for our Band of Brothers meeting ~ 7-13-09
Last Sunday night I was hustling to find the 3 DVDs I needed to return to the video store so I could avoid the late fees. It was nearly midnight and I was just beating the deadline. I parked, left the car running with door ajar and started a clumsy dash to drop the videos into the return slot. Instead of a smooth delivery, my foot hit the curb and I launched onto the cement awkwardly. The videos flew from one hand, my keys from the other. I picked myself up and assured onlookers that I was okay. When I was back in the safety of my car I said a silent prayer for healing of my knee but the rumination had already begun. I knew right away that I had hurt my already injured knee and I was angry.
When I arrived home Beth was surprised to see me limping and bloodied. Despite her helpfulness I was pouting in full force. After getting ice for my knee, Beth said to me: “I know you’re frustrated but let’s see what God has in mind for you and how God might use this.” I thought this would be a big setback for me so, at first, I took her comments as being overly optimistic niceness. However, her words sank in and I realized she was correct (she very often is, really).
Why did I have to view this situation so negatively? I was having a pity party! She snapped me out of it by sharing how she was positively impacted by Nick Vujicic’s presentation the preceding Sunday at Bay Pointe. We had attended separate services and apparently the 3 presentations were somewhat different from each other.
She described, in her words, Nick Vujicic speaking about how, in waiting for answered prayer, God’s glory can be shown to more people in our waiting (suffering and struggle) than in us just getting what we want and having our needs met. What if God had answered Nick’s prayers for arms and legs? After all, God has really been working through Nick just the way Nick is right now – without arms or legs. God’s time is the real time! A good question to ask yourself is: Would you rather God answer your prayer right now or, if more people could come to Christ in your waiting, would you wait? I got the point and my knee injury became a “Wow” moment. I think it is so very easy to make God small in our lives and to keep ourselves inflated.
I’d like to examine this further using some excerpts from other sources (references at the bottom):
Do people go to the Grand Canyon to increase their self-esteem? Probably not. This is, at least, a hint that the deepest joys in life come not from savoring the self, but from seeing splendor. And in the end even the Grand Canyon will not do. We were made to enjoy God. 1
- Dave Dravecky’s story is one of hope, courage and perseverance in the midst of dark and overwhelming uncertainty. Dave was first thrust into the public spotlight when his career took off as a major league baseball pitcher, a “southpaw” for the San Francisco Giants. Shortly after realizing his lifelong dream, Dave was diagnosed with cancer, a desmoid tumor, in the deltoid muscle of his pitching arm. The next years were a whirlwind of surgery, radiation, pain and depression. Eventually, Dave’s arm was amputated to stop the spread of the cancer and save his life. Through his personal experience, he addresses loss and suffering, faith, encouragement and hope, reaching out to others, and saying goodbye to the past. 3
- “My arm caught the attention of the entire school, when, as a teenager, I pitched my first no hitter…(Later) my ability to provide for my family was not based on how smart I was or how hard I worked. It was based solely on what my arm could do on game day. When people talked with me, it was the center of conversation. ‘How’s the arm today, Dave? Is your arm ready for tonight?’ My arm was to me what hands are to a concert pianist, what feet are to a marathon runner. It’s what made me valuable, what gave me worth in the eyes of the world. Then suddenly my arm was gone.” 3
We are all bent to believe that we are central in the universe. How shall we be cured of this joy-destroying disease? 1
- Nick Vujicic’s authentic love of Christ shines through him so penetratingly that people are literally captivated and disarmed by the fact he can genuinely rejoice in his circumstances. Almost without realizing it, they discover that they want desperately that same factor that they see so clearly displayed in Nick’s life and messages, in their own lives. That factor that they desire for themselves is, of course, Christ…living in him, and working through him. 2
- “God has used me to let people know in countless schools, churches, prisons, orphanages, hospitals, stadiums and in face-to-face encounters with individuals how very precious they are to God. Secondly, it’s my pleasure to assure them that God does have a plan for their lives that is purposeful. For God took my life, one that others might disregard as having any significance and filled me with His purpose and showed me His plans to move hearts and lives toward Him. Understanding this, though faced with struggles, you can overcome too.” 2
The cure for this bondage (self-centeredness) is to see that God is the one being in the universe for whom self-exaltation is the most loving act. In exalting himself – Grand Canyon-like – he gets the glory and we get the joy.
The greatest news in all the world is that there is no final conflict between my passion for joy and God’s passion for his glory. The knot that ties these together is the truth that God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in him. Jesus Christ died and rose again to forgive the treason of our souls, which have turned from savoring God to savoring self.
In the cross of Christ, God rescues us from the house of mirrors and leads us out to the mountains and canyons of his majesty. Nothing satisfies us – or magnifies him – more. 1
Questions / Discussion
- What might the impact be to us and to others of NOT fully living the life that God intended for us, right in this moment, and in the next moment, and in the next day, and always?
- Conversely: Through you, how far reaching could God’s love become if you stayed focused on God’s vision for you?
- We often keep God small and try to keep ourselves big. How can we keep God big and us small?
- How can we stay more “God-centric” in each moment – so that God can fully work through us, and so that we can fully experience his love and share that love.
- Do you have a “Dave Dravecky arm?” – A part of you or a part of your life that defines you more than it should?
- Would you rather God answered your prayer right now, or if more people could come to Christ in your waiting, would you wait?
- How can God use your pain/discomfort/loss?
- How has God already worked through you?
1 The full John Piper article titled The Goal of God’s Love May Not Be What You Think It Is can be found here: http://www.lifewithoutlimbs.org/passionate-articles-details.php?articlesID=17
2 The information on Nick Vujicic came from his website: http://www.lifewithoutlimbs.org
3 The information on Dave Dravecky came from his website: http://www.davedravecky.com