“Preach the Word; be prepared in season and out of season…” – 2 Timothy 4:2
“But make up your mind not to worry beforehand how you will defend yourselves. For I will give you words and wisdom that none of your adversaries will be able to resist or contradict.” – Luke 21:14-15
But when they arrest you, do not worry about what to say or how to say it. At that time you will be given what to say, for it will not be you speaking, but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you. – Matthew 10:19-20
Sometimes, we simply do not know what’s coming. I am learning that no matter how much I try to prepare, each day holds difficult surprises that will be beyond me. It does no good to try to figure out what I will say or what I will do. The challenge of those moments will be too great. Rather than trying to anticipate these challenges, I am learning that I am better off to commit to prayer the challenges that are ahead of me. I am learning to expect the unexpected. And I am learning to prepare for the unexpected by praying for “Future Grace.”
My prayers for future grace goes something like this:
“Jesus, I don’t know what’s coming. But you do. I cannot prepare myself in the flesh. But you can prepare me. There is a storm coming today. Some things are going to happen that I cannot anticipate. I am going to be wounded by a friend. I am going to be caught off guard by a nasty note or angry face. Someone is going to ask me for more than I have. My schedule is going to be interrupted at very inopportune moments. A concerto of jangling discord is going to be played. At that moment, please give me what I need, when I need it. Help me to be courageous and yet humble. Help me to fight for the Gospel, for Christ centrality, for Christ exaltation. Help me to resist defending my honor, my reputation, my standing. Help me to minister from a position of weakness, not strength. Help me to see myself as a Chief Sinner so that I might quickly move to chief repentance. Help me to love others and not to seek revenge. Yet, Christ, help me to refuse to make concessions that evolve out of fear. Help me to give up winning affirmation at any cost. Help me to resist dreaming of a conflict free family, a conflict free church, or a conflict free world. Instead, help me to believe in and stay committed to gospel resolution. Help me to desire deep gospel unity, not flimsy external alliances. Alliances suck. They are weak and powerless and discrediting to the cause of Christ. Help me to forsake alliances that protect me. Help me to denounce alliances that empower me. I don’t need a posse, I need Jesus…we need Jesus. Help me to hear the gospel music of Jesus. Sing it to me. Sing it to the center of my soul.
There is a time coming today, when the evil one will viciously attack me. I will be horribly prepared. I won’t be looking. My head will be turned in the wrong direction. My eyes will be blind and my heart will be weak. In that moment I will feel lost, like an orphaned kid, and indignant, like an embarrassed king. At the same time, I will want to run away in fear and run forward in anger. At that moment Jesus – and you know when it will be, I don’t – give me grace. Give me grace to grip the Cross with both hands. In that moment, sing the Gospel to the center of my soul and help me to obey the song of Christ, even if I feel stupid and dumb and goofy. Prepare that meal of future grace and bury it in the the exact moment and in the exact place of my future need. Help me have no trust in no other provision. Help me to look only for Your provision and Yours alone.”