Several days ago, I walked out of our house to discover that someone had apparently tossed an empty cup and straw onto our driveway. I shook my head and felt irritated by the lack of respect and responsibility shown by the litterbug, a proper response to such an offense. People should not throw trash onto other people's property. However, a thought entered my mind that changed the course of my attitude and reaction.
"I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men" (I Timothy 2:1).
In the light of the Apostle Paul's exhortation to realize our Lord's loving and involved presence in all things, the eyes of my heart were opened to behold an altar that lay before me. I could replace my irritation with intercession. I could pray for the person who tossed their litter into my driveway. Certainly such a person needs the Lord's working in their heart and life, as do we all. Of course, I knew nothing whatsoever about the perpetrator who became the subject of prayer. But I do know the One who knows him (or her) perfectly. Moreover, I am confident that our Heavenly Father allowed the cup and straw to end up in my driveway for the purpose of paving a pathway in my spirit to the throne of grace. So I prayed for the person, asking that God's grace and truth would be revealed in his heart, and that the Holy Spirit would bear witness to him of the Person and work of the Lord Jesus Christ. "Oh yes, Lord" I concluded. "And teach him to not litter!" :)
Wonderfully, the story does not end there. Yesterday morning I again walked out of my house, this time to discover Mary Beth walking on the sidewalk at the end of our driveway. She is a nice lady, a believer, who lives in our neighborhood and regularly takes walks that lead her by our house. We struck up a conversation and just before parting, she showed me an empty cup. "Could you throw this in your garbage, Glen?" she asked. "It looks like somebody tossed it out of their car." I took the cup and nodded. I also told her the story about the previous day's experience of another cup and the realization of an opportunity to pray for a litterbug. "I can't believe you're saying that!" responded Mary Beth. "That is exactly what I do when I find trash during my walks through the neighborhood." This led to mutual rejoicing in a wonderful and faithful Lord who calls us to altars of prayer in countless ways, and enables us to replace our natural fleshly inclinations and irritations with supernatural spiritual intercessions. "O send out Thy light and Thy truth. Let them lead me. Let them bring me to Thy holy hill, and to Thy tabernacles" (Psalm 43:3).
They're everywhere. Altars of prayer "for all" grace the pathways of our lives as the Spirit of God leads us in the love of the Lord Jesus. Sometimes offenders become the subject of our intercessions as the Spirit of Christ rescues both them and ourselves by leading us to pray rather than be poisoned by resentful bitterness. Mary Beth understands this. I am learning, little by little. What a gift, the gift of regular visits to the throne of grace as made possible by the God who "worketh all things after the counsel of His own will," and who beckons us to join Him in the fellowship of His ongoing work of redemption in Christ (Ephesians 1:11).
"Pray without ceasing."
(I Thessalonians 5:17)
Weekly Memory Verse
"O God, Thou art my God, early will I seek Thee."