Well, what WOULD you ask Jesus if you visited with Him for a day? I know, it's actually a quite silly question for a believer to ask. We have the indwelling Holy Spirit; we abide in Christ, and He in us; why would we need to see Him, say, sitting across the table from us, drinking a coffee, and expect Him to sit and answer our questions? Why would we not just ask in prayer? Why does it seem (and I have to admit, it does to me) that it would be so much easier to ask Him while He is visible and when I can expect to hear His audible voice speaking in human speech? Why is that seemingly preferable? It's a stumbling block, it isn't God's ideal. I think that the fact that Jesus abides in us should be far more ideal than sitting across the table. Is it that I am dull, that when I ask Him things I am not always sure of His answer? Maybe I'm being dull, and deaf, and hard-hearted, and slow to understand. Maybe for this reason I'm not fully appreciating the greatness of having Him always with me, not just near, not just within earshot. Within. That's a pretty profound difference, and my humanity gets in the way.
When I see someone, I think of communicating with them. When I don't, I have to admit, chances are, they are out of sight, out of mind, because of the distractions that surround me and that I think up along the way. I may be thinking of someone, but of all the people I know, I may not be thinking of you at a particular moment. And if I think of you, am I thinking of you in the context of my faith? Perhaps. Even then, does it remind me to pray for you? I wish I could say it always does. Even when I think of someone in the context of my faith, sometimes I look back and realize, "I should have prayed for them at that moment." I have come ever-so-close, and still forgotten. If Jesus were sitting with me in the car as we went somewhere, I might more readily have thought to speak to Him of you. "Hmm. Jeremiah (substitute this name for yours for the moment) is struggling. Good thing he has Christ in his life, and his family is so good to him...." and perhaps the thought dwindles away. It is so within a breath of where it should be, but it ends up useless!
But if Jesus were sitting next to me, I would say, "Jesus, I know You already are fully aware of this, but Jeremiah, well, he's having such a hard time these days. Could You help him to get through it? What can You have me do?" Those types of things might come to mind if Jesus were visible to me there. Why do I need a visual reminder? God's word is there, His Spirit is within me, my thoughts are almost on track. I am frail of thought!
So, stupidly, I am trying to think of the questions that I would ask if He were sitting across from me at the table. I can't belittle the disciples for withholding questions, or for not even thinking of them, now, can I, if I can't come up with anything useful? (And I realize, please don't point it out to me, that if He were across from me, I should be speechless! We'll ignore that detail for now, for the purpose of imagining these things.)
So here are my questions. What are yours? Would you expand upon mine, or would you have entirely different things to ask Him? If I were wise, I'd have enough of them to fill our entire visit. I should anticipate that His answers might bring up more questions, so that could be allowed for in this imaginary, one-sided interview that should be my prayer, my daily prayer, until I see their result in my life.
1. Jesus, why, when I have the Holy Spirit within me, why am I not so clear of mind and purpose, so useful for the purpose of the Kingdom of God, as I should be; as I see Paul being? Why is my mind still frail and impetuous like that of the pre-Church Peter?
2. What do You want me to do with the rest of my life? How can I be more useful to You? I know, it's a pretty general question, and the answer is, for the most part, there for the reading in Your Word.
3. What do You see as my worst stumbling blocks, my worst traits? What can I do to get rid of them? Will You help me?
4. Would You please teach me how to be a better wife, and parent, and student of Your Word? Open my eyes, and my brain, and my heart...help me make the connections I need to make...
5. There's a song that speaks this, Brandon Heath's very popular Christian song..."Give me your eyes for just one second, Give me your eyes so I can see Everything that I keep missing, Give me your love for humanity. Give me your arms for the broken hearted, The ones that are far beyond my reach; Give me your heart for the ones forgotten, Give me your eyes so I can see..." Lord, that would be my prayer...it's a scary prayer because I'm afraid I might be overcome, completely overwhelmed if I really saw humanity as You see them. Please change me, so that as You make me able to see them as You see them, I am also able to respond rightly, as You would have me do.
6. Would You purify my heart? Take the dross away, and make me better reflect who You are? Some of these types of requests are the scariest. I remember praying this before and not expecting to see how bad the dross was that came to the top. This is surely a scary prayer, but I need to pray it often.
7. Would You please help me to produce more of the fruit of the Spirit? I know, this includes praying for patience. I've done that before, and You have a way of testing that fruit and seeing whether I'm learning and growing, or dismissing Your help. It's a painful prayer, and the fruit of the Spirit is not only patience, but so many other things!
8. When I am praying for others because I find them difficult, would You also remind me that I need prayer because I may be part of that difficulty? I'm thankful, though, that lately I don't face many difficult people. Please help me to engage in the lives of difficult people if in fact I'm avoiding it. Please give me the opportunity to be a witness, for example, to the neighbors who are difficult, who don't engage in my life for whatever reasons they have--and some of those reasons may be valid. Will You help me to work those things out with them?
9. I've learned a lot of cultural Christianity that in practice in my life tends to trump Biblical Christianity. It's insidious, it clings to me, and I don't fully know how to recognize it and replace it. Some that I recognize, I don't know how to replace. Is this because I'm not to replace it with anything, that I am instead to rely on Your Spirit for the moment-to-moment living? I have found that cultural Christianity has a lot of convenient, preset attitudes. It tends to exclude and reject other Christians, and the unbelievers--the sinners and the tax-collectors--so that it hinders not only the potential for fellowship, but for witness. Please, could You clarify these things for me and help me to untangle myself more from them? Help me to love people who see things differently from how I see them. Help me to see them as You see them--I guess this goes with #5 above...and #8, those neighbors. Ouch! Help me to love my neighbor. It's sort of like, "Lord, I believe, help my unbelief!" Well, "Lord, I love, help my hate, my rejection, my withdrawal!" I actually don't feel that I hate them. But I have to admit, I'm not sure how I love them.
Again I find that composing the questions that I have always thought it would be good to ask Him, in such form as this, is more exhausting than I anticipated. Perhaps it is because I have to acknowledge my own weakness. Now maybe I understand more why the disciples refrained from asking more questions. Exposing one's own weakness, one's own sin and inadequacy, acknowledging the need for His help and wisdom, is demanding stuff. These aren't all the questions I have, of course. But for now, I need to stop, and breathe, and think and pray before I advance with more questions.