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.
I noticed an email promoting a relatively new book by one of my favorite authors, Mark Batterson. As an author myself (“Epic Grace: Chronicles of a Recovering Idiot”), I’m plagued by curiosity regarding new books and how they’re doing in the market compared to mine. Batterson’s book was already a bestseller. In fact, he probably sold more books in the first week than I did in the first six months.
Imagine how I felt.
Hmmm . . . seriously, God? He sells a gazillion 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; blessings are 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.
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 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 loves to mess with us. Why? Because he’s messing with the mess that is in us so that our minds and hearts will be more like Jesus. 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?
Kurt W. Bubna published his first book, “Epic Grace: Chronicles of a Recovering Idiot,” with Tyndale in 2013. He has recently published “Mr. & Mrs.: How to Thrive in Perfectly Imperfect Marriage” and two other books. Bubna is an active blogger, itinerate speaker, regular radio and television personality, and the Senior Pastor of Eastpoint Church, a large non-denominational congregation in Spokane Valley, Wash. He and his wife, Laura, have been married for nearly 40 years and have four grown children and six grandchildren.