Refining is Defining
by Trevor DeVage
I was wrecked within the first 10 pages.
I’d received a prepublication copy of Craig Groeschel’s latest book, Dangerous Prayers: Because Following Jesus Was Never Meant to Be Safe. As founder and leader of the revolutionary multisite Life.Church and presider over the international presence of Life.Church Online, he deserves a hearing. So I expected to appreciate his book.
But I didn’t expect to be undone by it. I didn’t expect it to lead me to deep repentance about the wrong ways I’ve led in every sphere of influence: with my family, with our staff, and yes, with our church. I didn’t expect to learn why I must be more intentional about the types of things I pray for. I didn’t expect to realize that my inadequate prayers have gotten in the way of people coming to know Jesus.
Anything I’d write here wouldn’t do the book justice. You must read it for yourself. And, besides, my purpose isn’t to post a book review. Instead, I want to tell you about the three prayers Groeschel challenges us to pray. And I want to explain how those prayers are changing me.
Groeschel’s mentor told him he wouldn’t be fully used by God till God broke him. He describes a series of disappointments he thought were God breaking him. But only when a friend and staff member committed suicide a few days after a heated disagreement with Groeschel did he collapse, incapable of little more than to ask for help. Finally, he was broken.
Who would choose brokenness if that’s the kind of gut-wrenching pain that accompanies it? Nevertheless, I decided I would pray “Break me.” And within 24 hours I was confronted by others in serious conversations about things in me that need to change. God is answering that prayer by moving me to make a monumental shift in my heart and soul. God has revealed things inside my heart that I just don’t like: selfishness, pride, and the desire to be affirmed. And now I’m praying for God to move me in the direction I need to go in order to be used in his kingdom.
It’s difficult to escape the human tendency to protect yourself. Even for the large number of Christians who might sincerely say they want to be used by God, many would instinctively put terms and conditions on the commitment. “Not now.” “Not with her.” “Not without her.” “Not where nobody will notice.” “Not where everyone will notice and I might fall on my face in front of them.”
Groeschel challenged me not to erect boundaries around “God, use me.”
When Isaiah heard God’s voice (Isaiah 6), this man who would ultimately write some of the most pointed and poetic prophecy of the Bible simply responded, “Send me.” He didn’t put limits on where he would go or what he would do for God. God answered his prayer by giving him a lifetime journey of difficult situations and unpopular proclamations. But Isaiah always went where God sent him.
God may not guide us to situations so dramatic. Few may take note when God commissions us to something simple or almost secret, but that doesn’t mean it will be easy for us to obey his call. We may pray “send me” but hesitate to walk across the street. We may pray “send me” but ignore the opportunity down the hallway. We may sincerely pray “send me” but then drown out that prayer with “Why me, God?” when he sends us to the bedside of our spouse, the rehab center of our son, or along the long path of healing with a friend overwhelmed with grief.
WHAT I’M LEARNING
As I repeat these prayers every morning, I’m coming to two conclusions. First, I see that sometimes we’ve never been broken enough to know God uses and sends where he chooses. Sometimes we’ve not been broken enough to hear his call. Second, my life will be defined by how God is refining me. I’m pretty sure the process is nowhere near finished.