Grandma’s house is a place to grow fat. She always makes enough food to feed an army of hippos and insists we eat it. “No one’s going anywhere until that vegetable soup is gone.” “I made a huge cake! I expect to see it eaten.” I was delighted we had Nick along to help our endeavor.
And Mandy was another welcome addition. “I’m at my Grandma’s,” I told her over the phone. “Are you busy this afternoon?” As a matter of fact she wasn’t. And she was coming to town anyway for a game night at Abigail and Shane’s. After an amazing lunch of chicken enchiladas, eaten fashionably late (at three o’clock), the whole family packed out in the suburban and headed into their house for a tour and a glimpse of little Miss Sofia Grace. A few months ago I’d figured I’d be spending my days holding Abigail’s baby and hanging out with Mandy. This is the first time I’ve held Sofia, and I’ve not seen Mandy in six months. Seems like I keep being reminded how the Lord changes things—quickly sometimes. I always look ahead, when the change is still misty and unknown and grow frightened, but each change is simply the rerouting of a channel. The flow is never stopped—just redirected. Never as dangerous as my overactive imagination deems possible.
Grandma’s house is also a wealth of distractions. “I’ll have plenty of time to finish Joshua,” I cheerfully tell myself, but instead I sit through the entire KU game, keeping track of the players almost as avidly as Grandma herself. As if I care who makes it into the top four. As if it has any benefit or bearing on my life or the path the Lord would have me walk. As if watching these poor deluded souls grasping at a fading crown will somehow spur me on toward my own eternal crown.
“The Prayer of Jabez” lay quietly by on the coffee table, so I picked it up and started reading. More out of curiosity, since I’d seen more “prayer of Jabez” paraphernalia than I ever cared to see. Creating study Bibles named after one verse seems a bit of overkill to me. However, I soon found myself engrossed in the truths and principles shared in this original pocket-sized book—many of which the Lord has been bringing forth in my life already. Jabez called on the God of Israel, saying, “Oh that Thou wouldst bless me indeed, and enlarge my border, and that Thy hand might be with me, and that Thou wouldst keep me from evil, that it may not bring pain to me.” A simple prayer, it seems, and perhaps a little self-serving. In my self-righteousness, I tend to reprimand myself for praying for “me” all the time. But David, the man after God’s own heart prayed and pleaded for himself constantly. Yahweh wants us to seek Him for ourselves, to seek His blessings for ourselves, and to seek His protection for ourselves. This little booklet broke down Jabez’s prayer into four parts: A plea for God’s blessing, a plea for increased influence, a plea for God’s empowering and a plea to be kept from temptation. When we ask for God to bless what we do, we must understand that His blessings point to Him, that He blesses what brings glory to Him, that His blessings include pruning, disciplining and guidance. When we ask that he increase our influence, we are asking for more ministry—sometimes beyond what we can handle! I’ve seen this over and over again in my life, especially in the past few months. But having more than we can handle is simply the perfect situation for Yahweh to work—if we humbly entreat His hand to be with us, His Spirit to empower us, His wisdom to guide us. There is no question then about Who did the work. The more we seek to do for the Lord, the larger a target we make ourselves to Satan. To pray to be kept from temptation—“lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil,” Jesus taught His disciples to pray. Beg the Lord, not only for strength to endure, to resist and to come safely through temptation, but pray in advance that He would remove temptation, that He would keep our feet on a level path. What could glorify God more than to bless us as we seek to serve Him, by His power and to implore His protection from even the temptation to sin? Chronicles tell us, God answered the prayer of Jabez.
As I read, my mind kept coming back to Caleb, the man I read about this morning. Of the generation that rebelled against Yahweh and fearfully refused to take the land, only Joshua and Caleb lived to enter the land—the two spies who remained faithful to Yahweh. Incidentally, Caleb’s name means faithful. At age eighty-five, when he finally entered the land and took his possession, he came to Joshua saying, “I’m still strong! There’s still so much to do! Give me more land (enlarge my boundaries) so I can drive out the Lord’s enemies.” What a delight Caleb must have been to Yahweh, in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, he shone like a light, praising Yahweh for giving him health, desiring more room to use God’s blessings to further God’s name.
Lord, bless me! Bless my soul indeed
Fulfill my deeply rooted need
To be with Thee and to be Thine,
And turn my water into wine
That it may bring Thy joy to all,
And hear my prayer whene’er I call.
May Thy hand be swift to guide me
And from every evil hide me.