Jump Start # 2764
Exodus 32:32 “But now, if You will, forgive their sin– and if not, please blot me out from Your book which You have written.”
There are passages that we run across in the Bible that are very hard for us to put ourselves in those shoes and to say what was said. Our verse today is one example of that. Moses was pleading for God to forgive the nation. The nation had gone the wrong direction. While Moses was on the mountain getting the Ten Commandments, Aaron and the nation were sculpting a golden calf that they called their god. As the Ten Commandments were being written on the mountain, the people were breaking them down in the valley. God was angry. But here in our verse, Moses stands as the mediator. Forgive them or cast me with them. What a difficult statement to make.
Paul said a similar thing in Romans nine. If he could save his people but the price to pay would be his separation eternally from God, he was willing to pay that. He wanted his people to be saved.
Those passages reminds us of difficult prayers that we often must pray. Let’s consider a few:
The prayer for a prodigal to spend time with pigs so he will wake up spiritually. That’s a hard prayer to pray. We want our children to do well. We want success, trophies, ribbons and lots of friends for them. But that journey often takes our children away from the Lord. Off they dance with their friends to a night of thoughtless self indulgence. God doesn’t cross their minds. Getting up and going to worship on Sunday would never happen. They are happy, content and moving further away from God. The righteous parents see this. Their hearts are broken. It’s time for that nearly impossible prayer to be prayed. It’s time to ask God to rattle their cages, pull the rug out from under their smug life, and give them a good dose of hard times. Let them lose their jobs. Let them spend a night in jail. They them get so hungry that they’d like to eat the food of pigs. Not many of us can pray that prayer. But those that do, realize that the salvation of the soul is much more important than the happiness of today.
The prayer calling for the angels to come. I know that prayer. I’ve prayed it before. Twenty-six years ago my dear mother was lingering between life and death. Days and days passed. Each day we thought was her last. I asked the congregation where I was preaching to pray for God to send His angels to take her sweet soul home. Now, all these years later, I find myself praying that prayer again. This time it’s my dad. Death is near. The Jump Starts this week have been written in advance. Today’s was written last Friday. All through the night that was my prayer. I expect by now, he will be safely on the other side. Kind, faithful, generous, loving and blessed, he’s been in my life always, but now it’s time for him to go through that door. And, as much as I talk about that door of death and preach about it, I find tears running down my face as I write these words. I know it will be ok. I know he has walked with the Lord. I know this is what he would want and it is what I want. But now, standing at that door, with it opened, the tears come. More than anything else I want to hold his hand as the angels take him through that door. But because of Covid and so many restrictions, I doubt that will happen. Praying for angels to come. That’s a hard prayer to pray.
The prayer confessing our sins is a hard one to pray. Honesty and our pride fight each other. God already knows. It’s easy to hide behind the generate, “forgive us of our sins,” but to name the sins and to put them on the table before the Lord is hard. It reveals that we have failed God. It reveals that we still have weaknesses in us. It reveals that we are not the big shots that we’d like to believe that we are. John wrote that if we confess our sins, He is faithful to forgive us. The word “confess” means to speak the same thing. When you stand in a cave and shout “Hello,” off in the distance you ought to hear a faint, “Hello.” That’s speaking the same thing. God’s word says we have sinned. We say, “we messed up.” Not exactly the same. God says we sinned. We say, “I had a bad day.” Not the same thing. To confess is to copy or reproduce the same. God says we sinned. We say, “We have sinned.” Nehemiah’s prayer in the first chapter reveals the confession of the nation’s sins as well as his own. That’s a tough prayer to pray.
The prayer of offering yourself is a hard one to pray. Here am I, send me, is what the prophet said. Volunteering yourself for the Lord is hard. It’s easy to say, “Someone needs to do this.” It’s very different to pray, “Lord, help me be the one.” Praying that God can use you to reach others. Praying that God will open doors of opportunity for you. Praying that you will go no matter how rough the road is, how lonely the journey is, nor how long it will take. Here am I, Lord, send me. Here am I, Lord, use me. That’s a tough prayer to pray.
All of this makes us wonder if sometimes we hide behind nice, safe and easy prayers. Prayers that don’t require much. Prayers that keep us from having to do much. And, maybe, just maybe, we are not praying big enough prayers these days. Maybe we like keep our boats close to the dock. Maybe we have made following Christ a smooth walk in the park. And, maybe, just maybe, it’s time for us to start praying hard prayers.