I have an exam later this afternoon so I studied a bit this morning. To make the studying experience more enjoyable, I wrapped up in my new heated blanket. I’ve never used one until Chance got me this for Valentine’s day, and now I never want to be without one. It’s a great invention.
Later, I took a quick study break to watch videos on FloTrack of college 400m races and 4x400 relays. And now I am taking an even longer study break to write this, because believe it or not, a great lesson can be learned from a heated blanket and a 400.
As I snuggled in my blanket, I wondered about the way it actually works. If you touch it, it doesn’t necessarily feel warm. But if you wrap up in it, it feels hot. You can’t just touch it to feel its heat. Instead, you must be inside it, all cozy and secure under its fuzzy warmth.
A lot of people grew up with this idea that we ought to pray in times of trouble. When someone loses a loved one, we're quick to say, “I’ll be praying for you.” Teams might pray together before a big competition, a friend may offer a prayer when you’re sick or hurt, and you might pray before a next big step in your life.
Prayer is a big part of our culture. Our country was founded with God in mind, seeking to serve and honor Him, but we’ve distanced ourselves from our foundation in many ways. The way we look at God and Christianity is one of them.
God has become this thing that people use as a crutch, a comfort in a time of need, but that’s not who our God is. He is far more powerful than that.
Using God as a crutch is like touching a heated blanket. You want to feel warm and you know the blanket provides warmth so you rest your hands on it. You don’t feel warm by just resting your hand there. I don’t know why or how it works, but in my week-long experience as a heated-blanket owner, I know that in order to really feel warm, I have to be snuggled in.
We don’t feel God’s power and presence when we simply rest our hands on Him. We’ve gotta be all in. We can pray in times of need and that’s not to say God won’t show up and help, but don’t we want to experience His power in an even greater way?
And while we’re talking about God’s power, this leads me to the 400m race. The runners didn’t appear to be moving that fast as they kicked on the final straight away, but when you see their times as they cross the finish line, you’re left in awe that someone could move that fast. How do they go that fast when their legs appear to be moving so slow?
Each step is powerful. It may not be the speediest step, but sprinters make the most of every contact with the ground.
I don’t think I’ve ever read in the Bible God will work with great speed. In fact, He’s not really known for his quickness. He let Noah ride a boat in a flooded Earth for about a year. The Israelites wandered for 40 years before they arrived in the Promise Land. God let His own son reside in the grave for three days before resurrecting him.
But all of these things required and were done with great power. And the Bible does say that God is powerful: “Remember that you were once slaves in Egypt, but the Lord your God brought you out with his strong hand and powerful arm.” Deuteronomy 5:15.
And we have that power in us: “So now there is no condemnation for those who belong to Christ Jesus. And because you belong to him, the power of the life-giving spirit has freed you from the power of sin that leads to death.” Romans 8:1-2.
But we don’t experience that power simply by being near to God. We experience that power when we’ve invited God to work within us. We weren’t made just to pray in times of need and trouble. The Bible says that we don’t even necessarily know what to pray for because we don’t know what’s best for us.
“And the Holy Spirit helps us in our weakness For example, we don’t know what God wants us to pray for. But the Holy Spirit prays for us with groanings that cannot be expressed in words. And the Father who knows all hearts knows what the Spirit is saying, for the Spirit pleads for us believers in harmony with God’s own will. And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to His purpose for them.” Romans 8:26-28.
Our own knowledge and understanding are so limited compared to God’s plans. This is why it’s so important to be snuggled in God’s powerful arms. To experience all of His goodness you’ve gotta be close by and all in, not just showing up during the hard stuff.