Unless a Grain of Wheat

Unless a Grain of Wheat

John 12

The collect from Sunday has been the framework for my prayers for us this week.

Almighty God, you alone can bring into order the unruly wills and affections of sinners: Grant your people grace to love what you command and desire what you promise; that, among the swift and varied changes of the world, our hearts may surely there be fixed where true joys are to be found; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

This prayer speaks to our weakness as human grains of wheat, holding tight to the stalk that is ever blowing in the wind. We easily get caught up in distractions and worldly affections that lead us away from God. But like I said on Sunday, we have a choice.

The path of self-protecting ascension or self-offering dissension isn’t always clear, however. We want to do what is right in God’s eyes, but our feelings sometimes create dissonance. 

We might ask:

Am I supposed to lie down and take it?

Should I let people walk all over me?

What about my rights, too?

Won’t I be irresponsible if I give away my rights, time, money, property, or security?

While I don’t intend to answer any of these questions, I do have some suggestions on how to navigate these personal and difficult questions.

First, I believe that most of the time, these questions are a distraction.  They form out of dualistic thinking, which says that it’s either me or them, A or B, black or white. This type of thinking pits us against each other and causes fear. Except for the Rich Young Ruler in Matthew 19, I haven’t heard of Jesus asking anyone to give “everything.”  So, when these questions start surfacing, we can allow them to lead us into a different set of questions.

What is really being asked of me in this situation?

What can I release that I’m holding tightly to?

Do I sense the Spirit asking me to let go of my ego?

In this situation, am I seeking security in God or something else?

As a popular saying goes, “Your questions determine your answers.”

Secondly, the questions that we find ourselves asking can help inform us.  I have two main responsibilities as a spiritual director. One is to ask open questions, and the other is to notice. What questions a person asks tells you a lot about their fears and what’s important to them. Often, I will repeat what I hear a person say or ask. This helps them “hear” themselves.  Generally, people are surprised by what they hear when I “mirror” their words, gestures, and tone. This brings new personal awareness that allows them to know themselves and God better. We are sometimes caught in our own flood of emotions and struggles and don’t have a real sense of our own thoughts and mannerisms until we have someone mirror them back to us. If you don’t have a spiritual director (which I highly recommend), you can have a similar experience by journaling your thoughts and questions about a situation. Then, at a later time, go back and read it.  The words you repeat and the themes you write about should be paid attention to. Then take that to the Lord in prayer.

Lastly, let your questions influence your prayers. Instead of praying for something to be resolved “your way,” ask God to show you how you might partner with him to resolve something “his way.” Ask God to fill your heart with his love even in the midst of painful circumstances.  You might also pray for peace while you wait for him to lead you. And finally, as I suggested on Sunday, you might begin by praying that God would give you the desire to follow him and his leading. As we prayed in the collect on Sunday, “Grant your people grace to love what you command and desire what you promise.”  This is a beautiful prayer to personalize. It will lead your heart toward God, and your actions (or inaction) will follow.

God doesn’t want you to be a suffering doormat, but neither does he want you to be our own “rights” activist. Additionally, it’s not our job to find some kind of balance in between.  Our invitation, as his followers, is to listen to his voice and follow his lead.  We are his sheep.  He is the Good Shepherd.  We can trust that he will walk with us on rocky paths, lead us through the dark valleys, and give us rest in green pastures.


Add a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *