READ: David is blessing God in this passage. To see his entire prayer, read the expanded passage, seeing how he dedicates to God the money and materials generously given by him and all the Israelites for building the temple.
1 Chronicles 29:12-19
(12-13) Riches and glory come from you,
you’re ruler over all;
You hold strength and power in the palm of your hand
to build up and strengthen all.
And here we are, O God, our God, giving thanks to you,
praising your splendid Name.
(14-19) “But me — who am I, and who are these my people, that we should presume to be giving something to you? Everything comes from you; all we’re doing is giving back what we’ve been given from your generous hand. As far as you’re concerned, we’re homeless, shiftless wanderers, like our ancestors, our lives are mere shadows, hardly anything to us. God, our God, all these materials–these piles of stuff for building a house of worship for you, honoring your Holy Name–it all came from you! I know, dear God, that you care nothing for the surface – you want us, our true selves – and so I have given from the heart, honestly and happily. And now see all these people doing the same, giving freely, willingly – what a joy! O God, God of our fathers Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, keep this generous spirit alive forever in these people always, keep their hearts set firmly in you. And give my son Solomon an uncluttered and focused heart so that he can obey what you command, live by your directions and counsel, and carry through with building The Temple for which I have provided.
THINK: When David talks about our lives as “mere shadows”–that everything we have is actually only being borrowed from God–how does that strike you? What item do you own, or what relationship do you have, that you hold more tightly that you would a shadow? Be honest.
So…be honest, huh?! Well, the one thing that I held the dearest – more dear to my heart than God (remember, I am being honest) – was my relationship with my husband. Then, my control over my life. Actually, I guess those two were probably interchangeable. I’ve realized that in the last year-and-a-half. I’ve always had a pretty tight grip on most things I love. It’s hard to learn to let go, or to hold things with an open hand, as some of my friends put it. The scripture from Job: the Lord giveth and the Lord taketh away comes to mind. I don’t know, but I’m curious if this last year we’ve been through would’ve been so hard had I not been so determined not to let go of what God was asking of me.
PRAY: As you approach God in prayer, picture yourself bringing with you the item that is hard to hold loosely. Talk to God about what keeps you attached to it. Don’t try to navigate the prayer so that by the end you are letting go of your treasured thing. Don’t try to force yourself to be less attached to it than you actually are. Simply talk to God while you imaginatively hold it tightly in your hands, and tell him about why it’s so important to you. Keep in mind that if you are still in the same position internally at the end of your prayer time, that’s okay.
I find it interesting, and a bit convicting, that this part of the day’s devotional says not to try to manipulate the prayer so that, by the end of it, I am letting go of my treasured thing. Usually, that is precisely what I end up trying to do because I would rather be “right” than be honest. Sometimes, honest is not pleasing. Sometimes, my honest feels down-right nasty. And I find myself questioning, why on earth, would God listen to a prayer that is not nice, let alone answer one. A part of me knows that God is more interested in my being able to be honest with him, since honesty is a sign of intimacy in a relationship. However, the part of me that does not want to be a disappointment, just wants him to be pleased with me. So…I try to tell Him what I think He would rather hear. It seems, we are always children in some respects.
Luckily, this part goes on to encourage me not to try to force myself to be less attached to “it” than I actually am. Good thing! I would have a hard time not being attached to my husband and marriage. Especially since I took vows (twice – once in a marriage, and once in a renewal) stating that I would stick with the guy until death we do part. How can I offer that up to God and pretend that I am not attached to it? I know, essentially, what I have to do is to not place that marriage in a position above where I place God. I know that my prayer needs to be that our marriage would honor and glorify God. But, HONESTLY, most of the time, I just want to live with and grow old with this man. I know that God has not taken that away from me for good, just for now. But the just for now has also taken a father away from his children. The Navy did that for years. But, he was ready to be home. He was about to retire. We were about to have him all to ourselves. And now, THIS!
LIVE: Take a few more minutes to reflect on what talking to God was like as you held on to the item you’re unwilling to give up – at least not easily. Did you feel guilty or uncomfortable, or do you have trouble being honest with him? Why might that be?
I haven’t had trouble being honest with God. This time. I don’t feel guilty not wanting to let go of my marriage or relationship in order to fully entrust it to God. I’ve come to realize that it’s a process. I want to want what God wants for me. But, the truth is, quite often it’s a scary prospect. I know that He has plans to prosper me, to give me a hope and a future. And I know that future will include my husband. It has to because we are not divorced, and he did not die. He has just been removed from us temporarily. We often joke that, instead of being on deployment for the Navy, now he is on a deployment for the Lord. The reasons he is gone ABSOLUTELY BITE! We did nothing to “deserve” this. Standing accused and being convicted of something you didn’t do is AWFUL! But my man is not the first, and he certainly will not be the last. Especially in a society where the victim must always be right and the repercussions for lying are non-existent. But…that is not my responsibility. My responsibility is to live my life in a way that honors and glorifies God, and train up my children to do the same, regardless of what life throws at us. I wish I could say that I’m getting it right. Maybe more than that, I wish I could say that I felt like I was getting it right. Or at least, I wish I felt like I was striking out less than I am. I also wish I felt like I was standing on ground that was a little sturdier than I feel like it is. Most days, all I’ve got is the will not to quit. And, I’m convinced that is what’s going to propel me through to the end. Proverbs 24:16 says that a righteous man falls seven times but gets up again; so, I’m going to keep getting back up.
How about you?