“Don’t be so humble. You’re not that great.” Golda Meir
I had a terrific trip to Israel. It’s a special place for me. I never tire of it. I always learn. I am always challenged. This trip was exceptional for me because I came home with a challenge from our tour guide Rotem Litov. He said, “You are the type of traveller that’s the hardest for us as tour guides because you know more than we do about a lot of things.” I smiled. My ego swelled. I encouraged him and my ego got in the way. He wasn’t accepting my humble attempts at uplifting him. He didn’t want or need them. He continued, “You spend so much time in the first century—why don’t you know anything about the twenty-first century Israel?”
Ouch. He caught me. I love a good conviction. It challenges me like nothing else.
“I will go home, study, learn, share and come back if you promise to lead with me on the next tour,” I said valiantly.
Rotem said, “You’re on.” Rotem is a Captain in the IDF. He is tank commander and trains soldiers in the military when he is not leading tours. He has a perspective I had never heard before. I am working on preliminary options for our next tour.
I immediately began researching twenty-first century Israel before I left Israel. I purchased videos and books from Amazon which were waiting for me when I arrived home. I blew through them in a few days. I watched YouTube videos. I visited websites and did a lot of the type of research I love to do. I cannot wait to learn about twenty-first century Israel with you and to watch the films with you. I believe you will offer even more insights to the Israel issue than I can ever discover by doing research on my own.
Golda Meir became someone I wanted to learn more about and so I did extensive research about her. Yes, I’ve only been home thirteen days. Yes, I went along with some amazing leaders to Stronghold Camp for a week with Middle School students since I got home. I have a lot of energy when it comes to things like this. I was awake all kinds of weird hours—so I had the time and passion.
Golda is someone that I admire—not for her greatness but for her authenticity in her leadership role. Leading is no picnic. Many don’t want the responsibility but accept it as a burden. Leaders are placed under immense pressure and scrutiny. Golda's responses and even her well thought out quotes or speeches are communicated with eloquence from the heart of a Jewish lioness who was tenacious, raw, a mistake maker, obedient, messy, strong, sensitive and a world class leader during Israel’s seminal years. That’s what I’ve learned so far. I challenge you to google her quotes or statements to learn more, too.
This brings me to the message for Sunday about prayer. The parable we will focus on follows the disciples’ request for Jesus to teach them to pray in Luke 11. Jesus heard a request to teach the disciples how to pray like John taught his disciples. Seemed fair enough. Jesus taught them to focus on their Father and forgiveness. After all, John’s baptism was focused on repentance so teaching about God and forgiveness made sense. Jesus went even deeper to question our motivations or desires when we pray to God but ask for stuff. I wonder sometimes if He is ever insulted by what we ask for.
I won’t give you all the ‘good stuff’ here but I will ask you a question. When you pray, do you align yourself first with Kingdom goals? Do you begin your prayer time by aligning your heart, mind, soul and strength with all that Jesus values? When you pray, do you begin with God, align yourself with his will and change yourself before praying for others or asking for stuff? Are you willing to accept the answer from God when it requires you to do life-changingly hard, serious or introspective work on yourself first?
I have been convicted a lot recently and in very important ways. First, because my ego got in the way and I needed to surrender, ask for forgiveness and make a change. Secondly, because my ego got in the way and I needed to surrender again, ask for forgiveness again and make a more serious change about my prayer life because I thought I knew something when I really didn’t know anything at all. God’s will in our lives is clear and always accessible. We, or maybe I, on the other hand, usually get mixed up with thinking I know what’s best. Our Father in heaven knows what is best—prayer is our opportunity to align with him not align him with our self-seeking and indulgent ways.
If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who seek Him? Luke 11:13