Does your personal narrative expect God’s goodness or gravitate toward despair?

Adding Your Amen to the Story God Is Telling

by Dean Briggs
3 months ago 20th Anniversary

Then those who feared the Lord spoke with one another. The Lord paid attention and heard them, and a book of remembrance was written before Him of those who feared the Lord and esteemed His name. (Malachi 3:16 ESV)

Each of us sees life from a certain vantage point, unique from person to person. Quite naturally, we talk to ourselves and to others out of what we see—internal processing and external dialogue. Because our perspectives are often deeply felt, our language reflects that. We either speak faith, gratitude, and trust or fear, unbelief, accusation, and bitterness.While changing our conversation is good, changing our perspective is even better. Do you realize that your perception of certain facts could be accurate at a rather static, flat level yet still be fundamentally false? Let me give an example.

At this very moment, you might be sitting in a chair or standing still. If you are walking or driving, you will soon be still again. Later tonight, you will lay down to sleep and exhibit no physical motion whatsoever. Yet even sleeping, you will be in rotational motion related to the turning of the earth on its axis, moving hundreds of miles an hour. You will also be in orbital motion as our planet whirls around the sun at 66,000 mph. Finally, our entire Milky Way galaxy is flinging through open space (relative to other distant galaxies) at an astounding 1.3 million mph.

No, you are definitely not motionless.

In Malachi, one group speaks in a manner that they feel is deeply accurate according to their analysis of certain data, circumstances, etc. Their perspective is intensely felt yet false, coming from a skewed view of reality that blames God for injustice and assumes He is falling down rather badly on this whole “run the universe” thing. Accusation against God can load like malware in the background of our thought systems, transparently governing our view of life and God. When our “controlling narrative” includes fault-finding and cynicism directed at God, when it is jealous of others or constantly condemns ourselves, we need to recognize that our perspective has turned septic. By contrast, the second group mentioned in Malachi “fears the Lord” and “esteems His name.” God hears both conversations but records the faithful in “a book of remembrance.”

In many ways, our lives are governed by what we subjectively perceive to be true, whether it is objectively true or not. We tend to live out of whatever story or narrative we choose to believe. We see what we train ourselves to see. This is partly why Jesus said:

“The eye is the lamp of the body. So, if your eye is healthy, your whole body will be full of light, but if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light in you is darkness, how great is the darkness!” (Matthew 6:22–23)

Does your personal narrative expect God’s goodness or gravitate toward despair? If you listen to yourself, you can hear the answer: “Well, of course that would happen to me!” or “If it can go wrong, it will” or “I don’t want to say anything, or I might jinx it.” Those kinds of phrases are giveaways. They aren’t just colloquialisms or even polite superstitions; they are belief systems leaking out of our soul through our mouth. Ponder with me these five truths:

1. Our tongue is the rudder of our ship. We frame our lives and chart our course, in part, by how we use our tongue (James 3:1–11).

2. When God releases a promise through His Word to our spirit, we can accept the promise and add our agreement—“Amen!”—or diminish the promise with, “Yes, but . . .” (Matthew 18:192 Corinthians 1:20).

3.  We can focus on our problems or focus on our promises. Our internal and external conversations will reveal and reinforce either focus (Proverbs 18:21Romans 10:8–10Hebrews 4:2).

4. When our faith seems small and challenges seem large, gratitude is an accessible doorway to faith. We can always be grateful for something (Philippians 4:6).

5. Every one of the above four represents a distinct application of our free will. We choose our words, conversations, and focal points (Proverbs 4:23Isaiah 55:6–7Luke 6:45Philippians 2:12–13).

The problem of free will is that when we are really cast down, deep in the throws of pain or defeat—when life is a grind, not a celebration—it is hard to choose the better path because it feels like we are living in denial. When our world shrinks to the size of our next breath, it is far easier to grumble than rejoice. Everything feels claustrophobic and small, so proclamations of faith, joy, or gratitude can feel fake. We become very self-focused, very inward, very intimate with our own pain, wrapping defensive scales around our soul just to survive. When this happens, we loose a vortex of downward momentum upon ourselves, because smallness begets smallness. The very thing we need most is what feels least natural: to break out of our small, myopic tunnel vision so that we can comprehend the fullness of the gospel and God’s intentions throughout all of redemptive history. When we’re suffocating in the smallness of our own life, we need the big picture more than ever. We need to appreciate what the Father is really doing: fashioning a Bride perfectly suited to His Son, elevated from pride, rebellion, and brokenness to humility, dependence, and beauty, thereby fit to reign with Christ forever. Only in this way can we glimpse again the truth that He is working for our good.

The knowledge of God is storming the shores of history like never before. We are privileged to live in such times—full of tumult, trials, blessing, breakthrough, and glory. You were chosen for such a day as this, but do you or can you see that? Do you see smallness, constraint, and resistance or a process by which God is refining you as gold purified seven times? Can you choose to speak blessing over your own life trajectory as well as where God is taking history? Can you see what He is doing in your church, work, house of prayer, in your family, in your marriage? Begin to speak the promises of God. Enlarge your vision. Then add your amen. Amen!

In what area of your life are you speaking God’s promises?

Since 1999, night-and-day prayer has been ascending before God’s throne from a little room in Kansas City, Missouri. Journey through IHOPKC’s prophetic history, celebrating many significant people and moments, with our retrospective video series at ihopkc.org/prophetichistory.

Dean Briggs

position

    Dean is happily married to Jeanie, and the proud father of eight grown children. His books include Ekklesia RisingConsumed, the visionary, two-part Partakers of the Divine, and the YA fantasy series, Legends of Karac Tor. He also co-authored The Jesus Fast with Lou Engle, now available in multiple languages. A former pastor and church planter, Dean is a consultant, dreamer, and Bible teacher. As part of the senior leadership of IHOPKC, he travels and speaks around the world. The Briggs live in the midwest.

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