~~As I’ve watched my son struggle with how to respond to recent painful experiences (see previous posts) and wondered how this will affect his walk with Christ, I’ve had an uncanny experience. I can’t pray for him. It isn’t that I can’t think of words to say, requests to make, hopes to lift up, but rather, when I pray it’s as if I’m in a Teflon pot with the lid on. I know you all have heard the expression that your prayers are bouncing off the ceiling. This is not that. This is the feeling of utter isolation. I can hear nothing. I can feel nothing. I have no sense of direction in this complete darkness. I feel removed from the process. I speak but no sound comes – my words simply slip down the Teflon walls that surround me and pile up at my feet ineffectually. I am powerless, hushed into silence. A bystander. An audience.
I confessed this feeling of helplessness to Wil the other night, and as I did, I understood in that moment that this is entirely by God’s design. (Here’s where I fling a plethora of clichés at the situation to make my point.) For Wil, this is where the rubber meets the road, where God separates the man from the boy, where Wil must choose his fork in the road. And I can do nothing to affect his course. This one is between him and God, and God clearly does not desire my intervention.
In the November 15th entry of My Utmost for His Highest, Oswald Chambers writes: “One of our severest lessons comes from the stubborn refusal to see that we must not interfere in other people’s lives. It takes a long time to realize the danger of being an amateur providence, that is, interfering with God’s order for others. You see a certain person suffering, and you say – 'He shall not suffer, and I will see that he does not.' You put your hand straight in front of God’s permissive will to prevent it…” “If there is stagnation spiritually…possibly you will find it is because you have been interfering… proposing things you had no right to propose; advising when you had no right to advise.” This is where I find myself, and I thank God that He has paid no heed to my foolish prayers. But I thank Him on trembling knees. Because this is my boy. But he’s becoming a man – God’s man. And there comes a point where I must let go of him and leave Him to God. This is that point. And I am terrified.
I know it seems right that we should interpose, intercede, and intervene, but that presumes that we know better than God, and that He is not sovereign in the circumstances. We pray as if He needs to know what’s going on here. As if He is not aware. As if He has taken His hands off the wheel. As if He is merely awaiting our command to act before He releases His power on the situation. We do not pray in surrendered submission, admitting that nothing comes to us but through His will to allow it or purpose it. We pray instead in a fevered panic. We do not know how to pray, “thy will be done” and mean it, because the possible consequences are too terrifying, too painful, too permanent.
Here’s what I’ve resolved to do while in this Telflon pot. I will continue to pray. I will practice praying until I have found the right alignment with the Spirit, the right words of agreement, my right place as an intercessor against evil…not an interferer in God’s work. I will know I have found the right place when the lid is lifted and the floodwaters of scripture wash over me; when my words…His words…become the power to bring about His will. I will learn to go with the Lord for my son and not to go between the Lord and my son. And as much as it is within my ability, I will pray with the understanding that this man-child is only on loan to me and at some point I must surrender him to his Father, entirely like Abraham surrendered Isaac. He is God’s. The best I can pray for Him is for God’s good eternal purpose to complete its work in him – no matter how much I might want to save him from the pain of the process. And I will pray that the Lord will give me strength not to lose heart, not to grow weary, not to wobble in my faith lest I find myself back in the pot with the lid on.