The truest form of love is tenacious, resolute in declaring the agency of the Only to deliver sovereign rescue to desperate hearts. Often, we assume the mightiest faith is the ablest, shiniest, least cluttered by stink and filth. Yet, the most effective faith is the one uttered in the throes of fear or grief, our faculties rendered useless, yielding for his intercession. Our faith becomes exponentially powerful when once we let go of all we hold hard.
This imperfect world serves up an infinite number of absurd, trying, excruciating experiences that we can frantically struggle to reconcile or give up to a greater governance. The whole of our faith hinges on this response, a choice of self or surrender, one defined by its eventual limit, the other by its invitation of eternal power to redeem.
Oswald Chambers writes, “Launch out in reckless belief that the Redemption is complete, and then bother no more about yourself, but begin to do as Jesus Christ said – pray for the friend who comes to you at midnight, pray for the saints, pray for all men. Pray on the realization that you are only perfect in Christ Jesus, not on this plea – Oh, Lord, I have done my best, please hear me.”
This is nearly impossible to accept when we’ve given ourselves undue authority as ones who know best for a child, spouse, friend, stranger. It is not our merit nor preferred outcomes that inspire their rescue. It is not what we define as good or right that brings us justice. It is what God chooses to give purpose that determines not if but when and how rescue comes. It is his promise to respond to those who seek his glory that compels him to intercede.
The Old Testament records sacrifice as the primary appeal for intercession, a deliberate act to seek and celebrate a sovereign God. Beginning with Noah, the aroma produced by these savory offerings pleased the Lord (Gen 8:21), inspiring covenant promise of presence first as fire and cloud and, eventually, as indwelling spirit, our faith response no longer a burnt sacrifice but prayer, the Father’s intercession no longer moved by aroma but his right hand son, our great intercessor.
It is “at the foot of the cross, where grace and sorrow meet” when surrender is most powerful, where I have spent my last ounce of strength and words no longer come but my spirit as representative groans and grace moves, where I am struck by the enormity of loving a child, the crippling bondage of depression, the hardheartedness of a loved one lost, the gross depravity of poverty and excess, the arresting pain of abuse. I no longer desire to be useful; I desire an eternal redeemer. I no longer errantly assume any ability but appeal to the One at whose cross I lay.
True grit holds fast to a foundation of hope borne not from our determination but from a firmly planted, without-a-shred-of-doubt conviction in who God is and what he will do. It is not how hard we pray but how deeply we fear the One who loved us first. It is not how heavy a burden we can carry but how deeply convinced we are of his power to give glory to that despair. It is not how loudly we shout but how deeply we seek his good purposes in the lives of those he loves.
“My flesh and heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.” -Psalm 73:26
“When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, ‘Son, your sins are forgiven’.” -Mark 2:5