Brian Cropp: Good morning. My name is Brian Cropp. I'm one of the associate pastors here, and we are smack dab in the middle of a series of messages on prayer, dangerous prayers, and we've been looking at ... They're not dangerous because they're going to cause you harm, or cause intergalactic problems; they're dangerous because they challenge our status quo, and we're not sure as we pray these prayers what God is actually going to do in response to those prayers, and that makes us a little anxious or nervous. Because we've also been looking at, that as we get real with the real God, we're going to see real change, and that real change sometimes feels a little dangerous.
We've already looked at the dangerous prayers of "Break me" and "Strengthen me.” This morning we're going to look at the dangerous prayer of, "Search me." And I'm going to need a little bit of help in presenting this message, so I've invited my friend, Steve, to come join me onstage. There's a couple of verses at the end of Psalm 139 that are a really good example of the "Search me" prayer, and I've asked Steve to read those verses for us this morning.
[Performance of "Psalm 139" skit by The Skit Guys. Check out their performance here
This "Search me" prayer is a very scary prayer. It's quite often (this has been the case in my life) where I am very content to pretend that God doesn't see all of the muck, guck, and yuck that's going on in my life. And I trip over myself over and over and over again, and sometimes it feels dangerous to ask God to come in and help me, come in and turn on all the lights. He probably already sees all this stuff, and when He turns on the lights He's going to show me stuff I didn't even know was in there. I don't want to deal with that, right? So it's easier for us to live with these relational elephants between us and God and just keep going through life without acknowledging these things that keep tripping us up.
There's a pastor in the Atlanta area named Andy Stanley, and he put this conundrum this way. He said that you are the mastermind behind your greatest regrets. That's fun. And you have done more to undermine your success than anyone else. And while that is very hard to hear, we know that's true. We are the common denominator in all of our life. We were there for every bad relationship, every bad business deal, every bad habit, every bad conversation. We are the common denominator in all of those things, and because of those flaws, deep down, we know we don't deserve God. We know we don't deserve His love, His favor, His forgiveness... any of it. We just don't deserve God, and we think that if we get real with God, we're going to get shamed by God. We're going to be squished like a bug by God. Or, at best, we're going to be tolerated by Him. And if we pray "Search me" to God, we're betting a lot on God's character.
In fact we're not just betting a lot, we're going all in on God's character. We are betting everything we have that God was honest when He said that He would never leave us or forsake us, that Jesus was honest when he said he didn't come here to condemn the world; he came so that through him the world would be saved, that the Holy Spirit really will come down to be our helper to teach us how to walk in God's ways and to remember how to walk in God's ways. We don't want God to search us because we've just bought into this lie that the God who thought us up, who made us individually, who got us to this point in our lives, that that same God would much rather hurt us than help us...that He would rather punish us than provide for us.
And just like a good parent, we know what good parents are supposed to do; they're supposed to take these immature children and raise them up to be mature, well-functioning adults. And this exact same thing our good heavenly Father wants to do for us, and He wants to guide us in the right ways, to guide us into spiritual maturity to the good things that He has for us. But there is that very real battle for the allegiance of our hearts. And when we're asking God to step in, turn on the lights, and search us out, we're really asking for a little bit of heart surgery...that God's going to come in and cut out all that muck, guck, and yuck in our lives. And last I checked, I think I'm right on this, surgery is painful. I think that's right. And spiritual surgery, at least in my own experience, spiritual surgery often feels worse than just a slap on the back of the head.
And God has this tool that He uses; it's a very effective tool in our lives, and that is time, that He uses as He's working on us. Time is very important, because change is not an event; it is a process in our lives. And it takes time to unwind the habits we've gotten into. It takes time to build trust back in some relationships. It takes time to make restitution and reconciliation; it takes time. And I would much rather have a loving God who knows me and cares for me cutting this stuff out, than to deal with all of the bangs and bruises and broken bones that happen because of all the things that I just won't deal with, and I keep tripping over, over and over and over again.
Proverbs 27:6 says that “Faithful are the wounds of a friend.” And if that's true, how much more beneficial are the wounds of God as He is cutting out all of our hurts and our habits and our hangups? It was making me laugh in my head that I'm playing God with glasses. Because God has perfect eyesight, and He can look into the very core of who we are and see the roots of what drives our flaws and our problems, and He can help us with those things. And I say all that to say this.
As you pray "Search me," as God is stepping in and helping you move closer and closer to God's ways, you're going to have to give yourself some grace when you mess up, because that's going to happen. Just like a toddler as they're first learning to walk, they still fall down from time to time. That is the same for us. As we're trying to walk in God's ways, we're going to mess up from time to time. We all have this meandering walk, the goal is to, over time, have a walk that more and more has a trajectory in the direction of God's ways. That as we pray "Search me," we're going to discover in 2020 that our lives look more like God's ways than they do in 2019, or 2003, or '94, or however far back you want to go, that our lives look more like His ways. Our thoughts and ways look more like God's thoughts and ways, because that's where the good stuff is. God wants us to get over these things that keep tripping us up so that we can experience the good life that He has for us here on earth and on into eternity.
So if that is the dangerous prayer that you know that you need to start praying, and you're dreading it because it's dangerous, and "I don't know what's going to happen," I encourage you to take that next step. Now how do you take this next step? Well, I would start praying, "Search me.” Just add that, as you are in the Bible this week and as you're talking to God, just that two word prayer, "Search me.” You could even do what Steve did at the end of the skit and take those two verses at the end of Psalm 139 and start praying those, using those as a template, and ask God, invite God, into your life, and start moving your life in His direction.
I've got a listening guide in your program, and there's some blanks in there. I like filling in blanks, so there's some blanks in there. You can use that as a resource for you that, as God brings stuff up, as you pray "Search me," you can write those things down. It doesn't have to be on this sheet of paper; you can put it on whatever you're going to look back at over time so that you can consistently be praying about these things that God brings up, and over time you can look back and see, "Oh, I'm not dealing with that the same way I used to. It's not as frequent." Or, "God really fixed that relationship, or He fixed that habit, and I don't even struggle with that any more." Whatever that growth is, you can have that as a reminder of God's goodness in your life.
So as you're praying the "Search me" prayer, if He brings up an attitude, some angle of approach that you have on different situations in life, you can write that attitude that He brings up, you can write that in on that blank, and then start praying that God would give you a different attitude, one that lines up with His angle approach to life. If He brings up an action, something that you are doing with other people, or in certain specific situations, He brings up some action, write that action on the blank. Then ask God to replace that action with actions that reflect His character, that honor Him, that love and bless other people.
If it's reconciliation, like there's a broken relationship that God just pinpoints in your mind, that's what needs to be dealt with. There's bitterness that's growing up there. Pray for opportunities to reconcile that relationship, to maybe make restitution in that relationship. And pray that ... Well let me clarify it this way. If actions or words have been taken, go to those people and make restitution. If it's all been up in your head, you've had thoughts of bitterness for someone else, or about a situation, it's just all been stirring up in your own mind, that's between you and God. Deal with God about what's going on in your heart and your mind. But if actions have been taken, if words have been said, go to those people and make reconciliation.
And then bring somebody into where God is leading you. So as you are praying "Search me," let another trusted friend know, "I'm praying these things, and I would like you to pray with me." It would be better if that trusted friend is also trying to walk in God's ways as best as they can as well, but bring somebody in that will encourage you. Someone else is in your corner praying with you as you are trying to walk in God's ways. Whatever area you are struggling in, whatever has knocked you off balance in your walk with God as you are progressing in your spiritual journey, I encourage you to step into the danger zone, start praying "Search me" this week, and you will start on this journey, where God is leading you in His everlasting way.
I want to pray for us this morning. Join with me in prayer. “God, we confess to you that none of these dangerous prayers is fun to talk about or think about, or even do them, but we know that You desire us to pray these things, because they change our perspectives and our attitudes and our desires to be more in line with Yours, and that's what we really want. We know You have good plans for us, and we want to be in line with You. So because of that, because of those benefits and getting to know You better, we are grateful for these dangerous prayers. This morning we thank you for not leaving us to our own ways, but you seek us out, you come alongside us to remove our muck and guck and yuck, so that we can walk in your everlasting way.”
For just a moment, with your eyes closed and your head down, for those of you who are daring and bold and want to step into this danger zone, I encourage you right now to pray those two verses out of Psalm 139 and ask God to search you this morning. You don't need to pray this out loud, you can pray this in your own words, but I'm going to read through those two verses, and I encourage you to invite God into your life and start searching you out.
"Search me, oh God, and know my heart. Try me and know my thoughts. See if there is any grievous way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting." Amen.