431 titles entered in the database, taped in 10 boxes, all piled by the garage door waiting for the transfer to the under-the-house (yes, it’s book-safe).
Anybody reading this blog identify yourself as a Christian? Anybody in that group ever prayed (or heard someone at your elbow pray), “Lord let the people around me see my life is different and ask me about it”?
Does that make anybody besides me nuts?
Here’s the thing: I have never heard those words from someone whose life I would have identified as “different” (at least, not in an attractive way), and I can honestly say, I don’t *want* to attract attention because I’m different.
Let me try that again.
I have all my life been different. Different is not the problem.
Here’s the logic/expectation I see behind that prayer:
If my life and/or attitude is good/blessed/happy/amazing/perfect (or at least more so than the lost around me) they will notice and want to be like me. Then I can talk to them about Jesus.
My problems with this idea:
- My life (or attitude) must be good/blessed/happy/amazing/perfect before I even get a chance to share the truth that is central to my life.
- You’re giving people a lot of credit for noticing. It is my writerly opinion that the vast majority of humanity waits for things to be pointed out to them. Not many have trained themselves to notice stuff (Sherlock Holmes/Monk stuff really feeds off this).
- You’re assuming that these people in dire straits/hard times/grumpy moods want to admit to themselves they’re unhappy with the life they’ve built.
- You’re assuming that these people in dire straits/hard times/grumpy moods want to admit to you they’re unhappy with the life they’ve built.
- You’re assuming they’d actually want to be like you.
All of these problems can and have been gotten around. I’ve heard the stories too.
But for someone who is ready, someone (forgive me for dividing believers into categories, but here I go) who actually wants to actively share his or her faith, I think this is the wrong way to pray.
If I attract people because of how I look or live my life, how do I know I won’t equally turn them off (or away) when I, as a fallible, sinful human being simply (or sensationally) screw up?
It can’t be about me.
I am not going to save anyone.
And while I want my behavior to reflect well on the Savior who ransomed my life from Hell, well, the fact that I need a Savior should be enough of a reminder I won’t always reach that goal.
I pray for opportunities to speak Truth, and the courage and sensitivity to create opportunities.
It’s not the only way to pray, but I’ve rarely heard it at my elbow, and have only just begun to do it myself.
The juxtaposition is hard for me: seeing the need to box books, teach my children, manage my home… and pray for a hurting world. Speak to hurting people.
It’s becoming overwhelming now. It feels like too much. And that (as I told myself after the birth of #2 and again with #3) is likely the point. I think it is possible to become too “competent,” or confident.
Only when we recognize how inadequate we are do we seek God for what only He can provide.
Amen. You’re right. There is a great deal of arrogance in the statement. No I don’t pray that way.
The problem I see with this prayer is that it’s all about self. In order to truly serve others we have to think of others. It seems to me that you have to be attune and reach out, not wait for someone to come to you. You do have to live a good life, but ultimately, as you say, you are not the one converting people to the Lord. He is. You are just the instrument. Seems that we need to be led to them by a loving Father rather than the opposite.
As a rather shy person, i’m not of the thought that one should go out and preach your beliefs. Sure, there are some who have that calling, but I am definitely not of that sort. I’m with St. Francis of Assisi: “Preach the Gospel always, and if necessary, use words.”
I also see you have David Almond’s Skellig on your TBR list (As well as Magyk)! He taught four of my MA classes, and I loved every minute of them. He’s a great guy and his books are amazing, especially Skellig. It was made into an opera last year and a movie this past easter. I haven’t had a chance to see the film version, but it’s on my to-do list!
Congratulations on all your hard work! Hope you guys are having a great start to your new school year!