The longer I pursue a life of faith the more I realize how much of this walk is a series of reminders. The truth was made known to me by God's grace. By God's grace, I believed. I still need that truth and I still need God's grace. Fortunately there are verses like this in the Bible to remind me His grace is never depleted.
"The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases;
his mercies never come to an end;
they are new every morning;
great is your faithfulness." Lamentations 3:22-23
Pretty encouraging promise from a book called Lamentations.
I've often written about how God shows me a particular point or truth repeatedly over the course of a day, week or month, so now whenever it happens I just sort of assume I'm supposed to be blogging about it. And it happened again. A phrase that kept coming up in my own personal Bible reading, our pastor's sermon a week ago, an employee meeting we had today, our kids devotional etc. etc. I do realize this is more likely to occur when you work in a church as I do, but the Bible is huge. The quickest I've ever read it is in a year, and I've read 700+ page books in a day before! It is possible to be in God's Word and talking about Scripture and listening to sermons seven days a week and not come across the same phrase twice. So when it pops up a dozen or so times, I notice. Or if I don't, God sends it to me a couple dozen more times. He's really persistent that way. And for me these past couple of weeks the phrase has been "Inquire of the Lord" which is generally a formal way of saying "Ask Jesus."
Now, I ask Jesus a lot of things. I mean a lot of things. There are many prayers I'm throwing up at any given time during the day and they are not all related to parting the highway traffic like the red sea, though far too often they are...but I digress. The point is I pray. I petition the Lord. I make my desires known. I ask for help and understanding and strength and direction and forgiveness.
But sometimes I forget to ask for them when I need them most.
When it comes to right and wrong I can find a lot of answers in the Bible. But when it comes to good and better, or better and best, or yes but later, or not for you but for her, it's not so cut and dry. Something can be in God's will for me one day and out of His will the next. As much as I might like a checklist to live by and be on my way, that isn't how God does relationship. He wants us to know we are utterly dependent on Him and that He alone can deliver. He wants us to ask.
I saw this in 1 Samuel 23:1-5. David inquired of the Lord if he should attack the Philistines to save Keilah and the Lord said yes. But then David's mighty men weren't so keen on the plan. They were afraid. And they were his army. These weren't wimpy guys. They were loyal and valiant and trusted friends. And they balked. How easy it would have been to doubt. I imagine thoughts that could have run through his head; "Was that really what God said?" or "Was that really God talking?" or "Did he really mean for me to do that now?" But David doesn't waste any time with that, he simply inquires of the Lord again. And God doesn't seem to mind, because He answers again. He basically repeats Himself and this time David and his men move into action and defeat the Philistines and save Keilah.
I thought of the phrase again when reading Matthew Chapter 20 with my kids. Jesus asked first the mother of two of His disciples (verse 21) and then a pair of blind men (verse 32) what they wanted Him to do for them.
It came up this morning in a staff meeting while we were analyzing a decision and weren't clear which option to go with. We inquired of the Lord.
It came up several more times and likely will continue coming up because the Lord in His mercy wants me to remember that when I don't know what to do I should be asking Him. I'm embarrassed to admit how often I do that last instead of first. I'm also getting pretty convinced He wants me to remember to inquire of Him even when I think I already know what to do. In fact, that might be the point of "pray without ceasing" (I Thessalonians 5:17).
And now this post can be one more reminder.
"Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God." Philippians 4:6