I woke up early this morning and powered up my computer. Before I pray, I like to see if there’s anything critical in my mailbox while I’m nursing my java and waiting for the caffeine to kick in.
The first thing I noticed was a PR report from my publisher. I was encouraged to see how much they did in the first four months after the release of Epic Grace. However, this made me curious about how my book is currently doing in the marketplace. I have my Amazon Authors link saved in my bookmarks, so I popped over to take a look.
Hmmm . . . not so good . . . not a lot of sales this past week, and I’ve reached my lowest ranking so far. Guess I should go back to reading my email before I get discouraged.
Just then, I received a blog notice from Mark Batterson (the guy who wrote the forward for my book). I love the way he writes, I love his heart, and I always look forward to his postings. The blog title was intriguing, “One Million Praises.”
In the blog, Mark wrote, “Before The Circle Maker released, I had a holy hunch that it had a unique anointing on it. Like every book before it, we prayed that it would get into the right hands at the right time. A few weeks ago, I found out that God has answered that prayer more than a million times. And that means He deserves a million praises!”
Batterson is one of the humblest men I’ve ever met. In no way was he bragging about selling a million books. All his praise was directed toward God and in awe of Him. He wasn’t promoting himself; he was promoting Jesus.
But imagine how I felt.
Hmmm . . . seriously, God? He sells a million books and I’m barely in the top million on Amazon! What’s up with that?
Now, before you go all spiritual on me, I know all of the nice religious things Christians tend to say right here . . .
“You shouldn’t compare yourself to others.”
“It’s God who gives the increase; blessing is in the hand of the Lord!”
“You ought to rejoice over a brother’s success and not worry about yours.”
“Perhaps there’s sin or pride in your heart?”
For the record, I agree with all of the above (including the part about sin in my heart). But before you start throwing stones my way, here’s a little insight that might help you have some grace for me. Writing a book is a lot like having a child. It is conceived in passion, delivered through pain, born with great hope, nurtured through care, and always loved regardless of performance. The book is a part of you regardless of whether you sell one copy or a million copies.
When you pour your heart and soul into a book and believe in its message, your prayer is like Batterson’s, “God, please get this book into the right hands at the right time.”
The godly part of me is fine and wise; it’s the human part of me that’s a problem.
My prayers (and yours too I suspect) frequently have strings attached. We know the right spiritual things to say to God, but we’re pretty convinced we know precisely how, when, and where God should answer our most pious of prayers.
We have expectations. God, I really need a spouse . . . a bigger home . . . a better car . . . a job!
We have a plan. God, getting it today would be perfect!
We have our definition of answered prayer. God, if you don’t do something soon (now) we’re going to have a problem!
And we can get pretty grumpy when things don’t go the way we think they should go. In fact, maybe you’ve wondered, God are you messing with me? I know what I need! Why don’t you seem to be listening?
In a span of time that seemed like hours but lasted only minutes, I realized (again) how silly I am at times. Staring at my computer screen, it hit me: I am not God, and I cannot control Him, what He does, or when He does it. (And that’s a good thing.)
Frankly, God is messing with me.
He’s messing with the mess that is in me and making my mind and heart more like Jesus. (Tweet this.) Is it always fun? No. Is it typically easy? Nope. Will it be worth it in the end? Absolutely.
One of my most frequent prayers is, “God, have your way in my life. Make me into a man, son, brother, husband, father, and pastor who honors you in everything.” I guess I shouldn’t be frustrated with the process he’s taking me through to help me become that man.
What about you?
Is God messing with your mess to make you more like Jesus?