Dangerous Prayer

Psalm 139:23-24 (the message)
Investigate my life, O God,
find out everything about me;
Cross-examine and test me,
get a clear picture of what I’m about;
See for yourself whether I’ve done anything wrong–
then guide me on the road to eternal life.

Lately I have been asking God to help me see others the way He sees them. I have been asking Him to show me what He wants me to see of myself and to purify my heart, my thoughts, my motives. My Pastor has been speaking from the book of Matthew and one Sunday I was drawn to a particular Beatitude (Matthew chapter 5). Blessed are the pure of heart for they will see God.

I have seen and known more of God over the past few years than I had before but I have a hunger to know more. See Him more. To again know Him in ways I haven’t imagined. He’s so good and big and mysterious and wonderful. I just want another bite of the apple…another drink from the fountain. So I see this Beatitude about the pure of heart as a guidepost…an invitation. And I pray God speak to me, show me, purify me.

How come when I pray this way I find myself blindsided by my own issues rearing their ugly heads in my life? I crash into conflict and strong emotional reactions. Bridges I thought I had completely crossed seem to again take shape in front of me. Wounds I thought healed and sealed coughing up to the surface the grit and glass of pain. My heart is a picture of the pond near our house in spring with an accumulation of pollen caked up around the edges. Gross.

And then in my confusion and frustration I remember my prayers. My dangerous discussions with Creator. The permission slip I signed with my words, inviting Him to investigate my life, to cross-examine me. To sift my life for “mixed motives” that can be so easy to hide. Somehow in the midst of my squirming I find comfort that indeed He is at work in me…answering my prayer…dredging my soul for things I might not realize my heart still harbors…hurts and resentments and disappointments that still cling and clutter up the wellspring deep within.

I want to see the world around me the way Jesus does, but perhaps I can only clearly see others to the extent I am willing to see myself. In both scenarios there is freedom. From offense and resentment and the suffocating pain of disappointment. Maybe I can only give mercy in doses I see I need myself. Perhaps the amount of grace I can extend directly parallels the amount of grace I depend upon.

In our pain and anger we want to snatch away our mercy and grace. We might feel tapped out. Want to turn away. Make pronouncements. Pound our gavel and make our judgement. And with every breath the vice grip tightens around our hearts, squeezing our own impurities and need for mercy and grace to the surface. The beauty of our mess is in seeing it. The impurities we face in ourselves can give us a clearer, crisper view of who God is. His amazing grace. His deep mercy. His overwhelmingly crazy love.

I worked for 13 years in various departments at a local hospital. For a short time I worked in one of our ICUs. This morning God has reminded me of a patient I had who was in a motorcycle accident and had “road-rash.” Can you imagine him sliding across the road and the glass and debris and dirt that accumulated in his flesh wounds? Can you imagine the physicians who would pick out the glass as it surfaced and the nurses who would attempt to clean his wounds? This morning I think of the road rash deep in my soul. Oh God has done so much in me and perhaps because I began to function and live on a more healthy level I thought the glass was all out. And yet as I long to know Him more I unknowingly pray this prayer of invitation…Investigate me, God. Check me over.

Now I must face the realities of crunchy glass cutting into the surface of my “arrival.” Even as my Great Physician slowly, gently removes the pieces I find a peculiar joy arising because I know He loves me and wants to heal me. I know only in the white light of His truth can I be free and whole. I know only in facing my own road-rash will I ever be a conduit of mercy and grace and crazy love for someone else.

Amazingly, the most potent prayer I can pray is the most dangerous and surely answered. Like a child tense and hearing those infamous words…this is going to hurt a little…I breathe a great sigh of relief as my healing comes.

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