Last Thursday, in “The Light, Part 2”, we saw from my habit of shining my flashlight on my prayer list while walking with my dog before the sun comes up, that we can become distracted, even by “good” things, even by things that God may have called us to do; and the moment that “good” thing gets in the way of something that is even more important in the moment, then that “good” thing can becomes a stumbling block.
As I thought about the lessons I learned by being “discovered” in my “bad” habit by none other than my neighbor, I began to realize one other vitally important lessons…
The Bible teaches us that we have victory in Jesus over illness, over financial problems, over addictions, over temptation, over sin, etc. These are ours, gifts from Jesus for having accepted His Salvation. They are, in fact, part of His precious gift to us, and we are encouraged to use them! We are encouraged to commit our illnesses to Jesus. We are encouraged to give Him our financial concerns. We are told to clothe ourselves in His armor so that we can overcome addictions and temptations, and all the other traps of the devil! But we are told something else that is vital: We are told to pray for one another (James 5:16,Luke 6:28,Eph 3:2, etc) and to hold one another up (1 Thess 5:11,Gal 6:2,Heb 10:24, etc).
Remember how shining the light on my pray list actually blinded me to the road at my feet, causing me to weave back and forth across the road, stumble on the cracks, and nearly fall into the drainage ditches? When we focus only on our own needs, even when we are focused on giving those needs to God, on taking a stand in faith for healing, for breakthrough, for deliverance, etc., then the very act of focusing on ourselves can blind us to the needs of others around us!
Is it wrong to pray for our own healing and deliverance?
Absolutely not.The danger comes when we do so exclusively, when we allow our own needs and weaknesses to “override” the needs of others.
Shortly after my encounter with my neighbour, who was convinced I was some hopeless case who couldn’t even stop reading long enough to take my dog for a walk, I went to work. I must tell you that for some time, I had been experiencing fluctuations of sensation in my fingers and toes, as if they are constantly on the verge of becoming numb. I had been claiming victory over this in Jesus’ name, and the numbness would alwys leave; and so I found myself praying against this numbness as I was pushing wheelchairs and running around doing direct patient care. I could hear God speaking to me, however: “Did you know that Mr. ____ had a stroke?”
“Yes, of course I know that, God, he is, after all, my patient.”
“Do you realize what troubles this stroke has caused him? Do you realize that as a result, he has no where to live? No one to take care of his new needs? Do you remember that he can no longer walk by himself? He can’t even take himself to the toilet, let alone do his cooking, cleaning, banking, etc. While you are praying for the numbness in your hands, have you even thought to pray for him?”
“Of course, Lord. I prayed for him just this morning, while I was out walking the dog. You remember, right? That’s who I was praying for when the neighbor caught me ‘reading’ while I was walking in the dark!”
“But have you prayed for him as earnestly as you’ve prayed for your fingers?”
I didn’t have an answer for that one. Nor for the multiple other similar questions God would pose that day. I was, in essence, shining my flashlight on my own concerns, and even though they were good concerns, ones that God tells us to claim, it was blocking my ability to be there for others.
This is the last lesson God had for me regarding the light and my morning walk with my dog and my prayer list: When I focus on myself, even for good, solid, Biblical reasons, I cannot be there for the needs of others. And since we are admonished to put the needs of others ahead of our own needs (“Don’t be selfish; don’t try to impress others. Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourselves.” Phil. 2:3 NLT), I was not walking in the will of God.
Oh God, forgive me for putting my light under a basket (“No one lights a lamp and then puts it under a basket…” Matt 5:15a NLT), Forgive me for my self-focus! Help me instead to place it, “…on a stand, where it gives light to everyone in the house.set it on a lampstand, and it gives light to everyone in the house” (vs 15b) by leaving my own problems in your hands so that I can be free to be there for others. Help me to stop shining my light for selfish reasons; but instead, to begin to use it for the world at large!
This is the last lesson from my habit of shining my flashlight onto my prayer list instead of the road. If you have missed any of the lessons, please email me; or access them from the web by clickinghere. God bless you as you shine your lights for others!
Oh, and I no longer take my prayer list with me when I walk the dog before sunrise…Instead, I use my light for the road, and at the same time, I ask God to impress upon my mind the people I should pray for…
In His love,
Lynona Gordon Chaffart, Speech-Language Pathologist, mother of two, Author — “Aboard God’s Train — A Journey With God Through the Valley of Cancer”, Author and Moderator for The Nugget, a tri-weekly internet newsletter, andScriptural Nuggets, a website devoted to Christian devotionals and inspirational poems, withAnswers2Prayer Ministries. Follow Lyn on Twitter @lynchaffart.
(To access tne entire “The Light” mini-series, please click here.)