In Matthew chapter 6, Jesus is describing some of the ways
that his family is to be different than how the world does things. In the
middle of that lecture, he drops this bomb: “Do not be like them, for your
Father knows what you need before you ask him.”
There’s one command in this, and one reason for the command.
Don’t be like those people because unlike their father, your Father knows what
you need, even before you tell him.
I’d like to share a testimony, if I may.
I was helping someone with a legal issue. This someone
important to me, someone who calls me “dad.” And the legal issue was pretty
bad. It wasn’t that he had done anything illegal, but he’d gotten involved with
a World Class Pain-In-The-Hindquarters.
The World Class Pain was making his life miserable,
threatening lawsuits, threatening huge expenses, and was completely flouting
the law on the matter. He was Too Important To Be Bothered with things
like that (he is a legitimate millionaire, for all the good it does him), and
he does know powerful people who owe him favors.
So we’d talked together about the options open to us. At its
most intense point, my spiritual son called me in terror and confusion about
the latest round of threats, so I called the Millionaire Pain and explained
things firmly to him. I think he’ll be able to use that ear again in a few
days. I did not submit to his campaign of terror. I wasn’t rude, but I didn’t
let him push me around.
But I pissed him off, so he jacked up the intimidation and
threats, and neither my son nor I slept much for a couple of nights.
I wanted to ask for prayer, but I didn’t feel that freedom.
A day later, I realized that when I got in his face, I
misquoted some facts to him, so I called him back, and (as expected) he sent my
call to voicemail, so I left him a long message. I apologized for my errant
facts, explained the situation from my son’s perspective, acknowledged what we understood of his own
needs in the situation, and proposed a sit-down meeting where we could resolve
He ignored me, of course. His intimidation continued, but it did not escalate again.
Again, I wanted to post a prayer request, but I still didn’t
feel the freedom.
One night it really got to me. I should have been asleep.
Instead, I was ranting, my intestines were growling, and my sheets were soaked with sweat.
I had acknowledged that we’d probably need to take the Pain to court, but as I
rolled it around in my mind, I realized that we couldn’t lose the case. We had
him cold! We had documentation of a couple of things that would make this an
open and shut case! I didn’t want to go to court (nobody in their right mind
does), but if we needed to, we would win.
And then I realized that The Pain wasn’t doing any of this to hurt my son
or to hurt me, and he wasn’t doing this to win a court case. He just needed to
stay in power in his interactions with other people. He needed to feel
powerful, and this whole drama was how he met that need. I honestly began to feel sorry for
him. That was actually confusing; he was the reason I was still awake at 3:00
in the morning!
And then Father reminded me of Romans 2:4b: “God’s kindness
is intended to lead you to repentance.” We wanted him to change his mind about
the hell he was wreaking; we wanted him to repent. Here, God’s showing me the
key to The Pain's repentance: my kindness. Nice.
So I prayed quite a bit; I prayed blessing on this man, on his business, on his real estate holdings. But wait, there's more!
I’d been studying angels in the Bible, recently. My new
favorite book of the Bible talked about them: “Are not all angels ministering
spirits sent to serve those who will inherit salvation?” (Hebrews 1:14).
So I invited some angels to go visit him and minister the
things of the Kingdom to him. We’re supposed to DO the stuff we’re learning,
right? And I gave him a new name. No longer The Pain, now he was The Millionaire.
Suddenly, I was tired and I slept.
The next morning, the Millionaire surprised us all. He messaged my son with a
remarkably reasonable response. He outlined some things he needed from us
ones!), and offered some concessions we hadn’t even asked for. Then
he recused himself from the final negotiations and he invited us to work with his more reasonable partner. (What? Who IS this guy?)
I wonder if there’s a connection?
I shared the good news with Mrs P, and she admitted that she
had been praying blessing on him as well (before she dropped off to a sound
hours before I did!).
I never did ask others for prayer. Our amazing Father really does know what we need, even before we tell him. He
’d been answering that prayer long before we got around to praying it.
Then I heard Holy Spirit whisper to me, “I’m serious. It’s
kindness that brings repentance. Not power, not strength of will, not even
being right. It’s kindness.”
It's kindness that leads to repentance. It really is.