Prayer, Walkie-Talkie’s, & Crying Somewhere in New Mexico—-Day #13 out of the 30 day challenge to blog

I’ve had a few friends make some jokes about these blogs. All of the jokes involve how long these are…I laugh to myself when I hear that because I go….I’m pouring the most intimate, and sometimes grossest parts of my soul out on the table for everyone to read…why in the world would I make it easy. If you was simple, easy, and fast go read one of those self-help or prosperity gospel bullshit books. I’m 35, which is young to some, and old to others…but it’s long enough to know i’ve been a shitty savior to my self…and to others. No the help I need is something outside of myself, or someone outside of myself rather. Not that there isn’t some self involved, there is Read the book of James in the New Testament. And if you don’t agree you might as well tear it out…didn’t Martin Luther do that? What’s with old guys tearing out part of the scriptures…like Thomas Jefferson just tore out what Jesus said…and threw everything else out…I hate that shit, I hate when I hear these stories. It just goes to show you these beautiful, and even heroic men…were still men. I’m beyond grateful to their contributions to the human race…but I go..”Yeah they would’ve made shitty saviors too.” Seems like a lot of us at times are into that buffet style serve yourself Christianity when it comes to the scriptures. Pick what you like. Don’t pick what you don’t like. I say wrestle with it all. Bathe in the confusion of it all. Because if you are truly a Christian, and have been walking with Jesus for a minute…you realize that the Scriptures isn’t just literature even though it has the prose of such…but it’s something else…it’s alive…

The picture I get is in the old school movie “The Never Ending Story”….and in that moment when he realized that the story was happening in the present moment. I still get chills when I think of that. I love great moments in movies. I’m a sucker for it.

I’m not trying to make light or make fun of folks that do the buffet style thing with the scriptures…it’s actually quite dangerous, and not in the cool bad ass way like the fonz in happy days…or Bruce Willis yelling , “Yippee ki ya”…it’s dangerous in the way it destroys who you are on the inside…and hurts other people…another way to say it is how Rich Mullins said it better…

“People always say in the scriptures it says…daddadadadaddadda…and I go…man it says a lot……Proof-texting is a very, very dangerous thing. I think if we were given the scriptures it was not so that we could prove that we are right about everything. If we were given the scriptures it was to humble us into realizing that God is right and the rest of us are just guessing.”- RM

I really like and even lean towards the new reformed camp within evangelical Christianity…but my hang up with them is this…it seems like it’s so easy for them to fall into pride because they are a bunch of know-it-alls. It’s like you have to have a seminary degree to go to one of their churches. I appreciate being theologically conservative, even though I’m philosophically liberal. (Stole that line from my old pastor). There just seemed to me to be such a focus on knowledge there. Which it’s not a bad thing to want to know the scriptures, or know theology…but the problem I think becomes what’s you start to pat yourself on the back for all the things you know is the minute pride seeps in….and once that is in there…you think you’re better than others because they don’t know what you know…and almost makes it impossible to be graceful and compassionate because you think they are wrong and you are right…just because they view the scriptures differently than you….Funny thing, this whole thing reminds me of the scriptures when it says…”Knowledge puffs up, but love builds up.” So I would rather run the risk of being dumb when it comes to the scriptures, and love well. Versus…well I’ll let Paul in Corinthians say it for me…he said it better…

“And if I have the gift of prophecy, and know all mysteries and all knowledge; and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing.”—St. Paul

1 Corinthians 13:2

I was sitting on my porch last night, having a jack & diet coke, smoking a Djarum clove cigar, listening to Ryan Adams record heartbreaker…and I was thinking …well this week sucked. And I was chatting with my Abba…and I was thanking him…(It reminds me of James 1…Consider it pure joy…whenever you face trials of many kinds….because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance.)

Having a hard time in your life? Probably not on accident. Not the answer you want to hear when you’re facing cancer, when you’ve lost a loved one, when your flat broke, and on the edge of loosing your faith, but nevertheless I’d rather point you to answers that are loving versus simple…again if you’re looking for simple…go read self-help or prosperity gospel shit…it may work…until the day you’ve got stage four cancer…than I bet the first thing on your bucket list is going to be to throw away those shitty books. Self-help and prosperity gospel thinking aint gonna cure cancer, or put more money in the bank. And even if you had health, wealth, security, & stability…will you be happy then? Let me get to the punch-line…nope. Cuz if it were just things to make us happy…some forefather in our human existence would have given us the recipe by now.

Every human no matter what their faith is…knows two things…even if they can’t or haven’t admitted it to themselves yet…1) Something’s not right inside…..and 2) I need some help from the outside. To not admit those things, is only to live in a fairy tale…and a constant state of denial.

I need help. Hell I know Jesus is real. I’ve experienced him on my own journey to deny that he is the coming messiah that was promised and professed about to my Jewish ancestors. I have about as much luck saying he’s not real, as I do to say that my daughter doesn’t exist. It’s that real to me.

And so what do you do, when you have are going through a shitty time like the time I had this week. Well, you pray. I mean, what else are you gonna do. Sure you also let yourself be lifted up, & encouraged by your friends.

I was sitting there in the middle of just being really sad (see previous blogs and you’ll know why)…and I just went, “man, I’m convinced prayer is about one thing…and only one thing…intimacy.”

The Scriptures talk a lot about prayer…pray without ceasing…etc. etc….and Jesus taught us how to pray once…And I like how Jesus and the scriptures taught us how to pray.

I don’t very much like how we as a Christian culture live it out. It’s like we are trying to turn God into an ATM machine or Santa Claus or hitting up your Grandpa for 20 bucks. And because we really want our prayers answered we easily fall into some type of to-do-list behavior modification Christianity…not even because we love Jesus and are responding to his furious love…but because we simply want our will to be done. Not his.

I think there’s some scriptures that bring great wisdom on prayer…like “sometimes you don’t have because you don’t ask”….

But I think sometimes we are all missing the big picture. Prayer isn’t a transaction. Prayer is intimacy. This could change as I grow into being older and into maturity …but at least where I am at today…I think every drop of scripture and God’s teaching on prayer as one motive and that is to draw us into intimacy with him…

So when we pray for our family member to not die…and the scriptures talk so much about faith and not having doubt…and anythings possible…and to pray without ceasing…and then guess what…your family member didn’t beat cancer or old age…and they are dead. So what the hell was all that useless prayer for …and all that faith for….if my Aunt Edna was just going to die anyway…Here’s my guess….I think God wanted us to never stop praying because he knew Aunt Edna was going to die…and when she did…he knew you were going to need him more than ever.

So why does God ask us to pray for daily bread vs. weekly bread…well I think he likes hearing from us. And would you rather hear from someone you are madly in love with daily or weekly?

So what’s the point of asking for anything of God…if in the end he may not give it to us…well I kinda like to think …the more intimate we are in prayer…when he doesn’t end up giving us what we want…he wants us to know that he is not only enough…but he is better than the thing you were asking for.

So what’s the point of praying for reconciliation and redemption for and with enemies if it was never going to happen…well I think God wants you to be a peacemaker…and what better way than to abide inside the heart of the greatest peacemaker of all time…God himself.

There’s not enough coffee or time for me to go through all the scriptures and give you a multitude of examples to prove my point, so I won’t….but let me say this. I think we need a proper understanding of prayer so our faith isn’t so shaken with the inevitable happens.

I’m not trying to be insensitive here. I’ve held my friends crying when they lost their wives to cancer. I’ve sobbed uncontrollably by an ocean with my Grandma died. Death sucks friends, get I get an Amen? (said in a very southern—southern baptist hick way)

But I am sometimes baffled when I hear people about to loose their faith when people die. Not trying to be a jerk, or take away the pain it feels to loose a loved one. I know that pain well. Too well matter of fact.

But I just don’t fully understand. Have people not done the math. We’re gonna die folks. It’s coming. As sure as nightfall on the night of you reading these words. Death is coming. And there’s nothing you can do about it. As Rich Mullins once said…”Sooner or later life will kill us all.”

I once heard that Ancient Christians used to celebrate death…not fear it. I think we should go back to our roots.

I know people that approach prayer like it’s going to the gym or doing laundry. Well here I am, I did it, and now I’m going about my day. You know that’s why I’m not a big fan of praying before a meal. It actually comes from the Jewish custom of praying before and after you have a meal. So I go nah, I’m not gonna do it…and when I’m judged for not praying before a meal by fuddy duddy Christians…In my heart I judge them right back…and go “Well you didn’t pray after the meal so nananananboo-boo”

No I’m not a big time and place pray guy. Although I will say I’ve learned a lot from James Bryan Smith and he’s taught me a lot about the art of spiritual disciplines, which all lead to connecting yourself to the kingdom and having intimacy with the father. But the type of prayer I prefer is the prayer that never ceases. I think there’s a lot of people out there that ignore that verse, and throw it out the window because…how in the world can you pray with out ceasing. That’s impossible. I think that may of the wrong understanding of what that means. And again I’m no bible expert…if any of you guys are using my blogs as some type of exegetical and or theological  understanding of the scriptures or God himself…well you’re dumb. I’m just a dude that smokes cigarettes, drinks bourbon, and loves Jesus like a “sweaty tooth madman”.

Praying without ceasing, for me, is more like going on a long car ride with a friend. Being a wannabe vagabond evangelist. I’ve got on a lot of car rides. A lot of road trips. I’ve beat the hell out of several cars in the name of road trips. I’ve probably traveled back and forth to from LA to Seattle 20 or more times. I’ve traveled from the Mid-west to LA back and forth maybe around 10 times. I’ve done big loops around the whole country a few times. And I’ve done endless trips all around the mid-west and the south about a million times, or at least it feels like a million.

I read a book in the summer of 2001 called Practicing the Presence of Prayer by a monk who was a dishwasher. Read it. But ever since that summer, I stopped doing time and place prayers with the exception of not wanting to make people awkward by not praying before a meal, or not wanting to dishonor their customs, and sometimes just for the hell of it I will throw in a prayer before a meal…for old times sake I guess. Nothing wrong with it…nothing ever wrong with praying ( I wish you could have heard my accent there…it was very Indiana:-)

I like road trips with friends. And imparticular there is nothing better than a road trip with a best friend. But I also enjoy them by myself. I guess because my home was never a bouquet of flowers…I loved being on the road. Endless miles ahead, counting crows blasting on the radio, and a pack of camel light cigarets on the dashboard. When the summer of 2001 ended. My favorite summer. I was going to live in my van, my small green dodge caravan, covered with bumper stickers. The back seats were abandoned, and I made a little bed back there…and covered the thing with pictures of friends and family …It was my home. That’s not what ended up happening, but that’s another story for another time. But I love being alone on road trip. Partially because I know I’m not alone. Ever. I’m always with my Abba Father. Being a bible nerd…I sometimes wonder if we studied long enough we would discover that that verse…”pray without ceasing” really means that prayer never ceases. Or maybe it’s the other way around…we need to pray hard and long enough to realize that’s the case. Either way…

The best example I can give of this is practical example. After I shipwrecked my life. I traveled out to California with my best friend St. Randy Wheeler of the guy who always wears a michigan sports team hat. I’m not a sports guy. And my honest confession is I don’t want to get the sports team wrong. We drove seperately because he was coming back. And I wasn’t. I was really scared about this trip. I had only done one cross country trip at this point to California and back in the spring of 2002…but now I was moving there. Where I don’t know. All I knew is I was leaving and probably not coming back. Although sometimes I joke that I feel like I went on vacation to California and just never left. And not because I love it as much as it is…I just don’t know where else to go…or what else I would do besides what I’m doing (again I wish you could have heard my accent).

Randy had a great idea. Since we were going to travel across the country with a few “Color Green” shows in between and we didn’t know how long we’d be on the road. He bought us child-like walkie talkies. Not the type the pros use…but the type you’d buy at a toys r us….

My favorite memory from that trip was we were somewhere in the middle of New Mexico, somewhere in the desert driving in the dark…not knowing where in the hell we were…or how far we would go…But we had fun talking on those walkie talkies…sure we had cell phones then…but it was more fun to talk on the walkie-talkies. Randy was also scared, he only had enough money to get out to california with me…but not enough money to get back. But I know Randy…I know why he did that trip. Sure there were a few reasons. We both loved PC, doing comedy, and road trips…but I saw in Randy’s eyes the real reason…he was doing it for me. I’ll never forget that. Until my dying day I will say I’m proud to call St. Randy my friend.

I remember we were on the road, and on the walkie-talkie I heard Randy say…”Dave…I’m scared”. He cried. And I was a pillar of strength in that moment. I told him he had nothing to fear. We will figure it out. God will provide. Somehow. Someway. A few hours later…Randy was driving and he heard me on his walkie-talkie…and I said…”Randy…I’m scared.” And now I was crying and he was a pillar of strength. Turns out God did provide. Randy arrived at home with the same amount of money he had in his pocket when he left.

That’s the best example of prayer I got. And when I go through the hardest times like I’ve been going through this week. I think of that road trip with Randy…and I am reminded that my life journey is nothing more than a road trip with my Abba Father. No matter what happens. No matter who dies. No matter if I get cancer. No matter how rich or poor I am. No matter how well I lived in response to the love of God or how far away I ran from God as a prodigal son. Through the ups and downs. Through the laughter and tears. I know that prayer never ceases, because God my Heavenly Daddy never ceases. He’s always there listening to my child like prayers on my toys r us walkie talkie…saying…”Daddy I’m scared.”

David Leo Schultz

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~ by David Leo Schultz on October 18, 2015.

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