An enduring image from Abraham Lincoln’s Second Inaugural Address is that of the North and the South, Union and Confederate armies, both praying to the same God for victory.
If that gives you pause—as it should—think about the thousands of Adventists praying that God’s will should prevail in the decisions made at Annual Council this year.
These are Adventists who are the third and fourth generation in their family to claim the name of SDAs; these are those who have labored in service to the church for decades; these are young Adventists who are trying to find their way in the church and are dumbfounded by some of the decisions recently made. And there are others, deeply immersed in the workings of church administration, who are concerned at the direction many church members and organizations are taking in defiance of policy imperatives, who see these independent movements as the tendrils of the Devil creeping among us.
When we’re honest with ourselves we must admit that we can’t know for certain if our actions and plans are aligned with God’s. But sometimes, in the aftermath, we believe we see the hand of God working to accomplish what we could not. That’s the rub, isn’t it? Like Steve Jobs once said, we can’t connect the dots looking forward; we can only connect them looking back. Or as Kierkegaard said, we must live life forwards, but we can only understand it backwards.
How do you like your eggs? Imagine our prayers as ways to prepare an egg: how would yours look?
Poached: a prayer that is gentle, delicately preserved, and does not remain at high temperatures very long. It asks that everything go well and no one gets hurt.
Fried: prepared whole, with minimum accompaniments. Brisk, straight forward, it asks and assumes—in faith—that what is asked for will be delivered.
Scrambled: prepared by constant stirring, repeating the name of the Lord fervently and often in hopes that the whole thing will hold together. A cheesy smile helps.
Hard-Boiled: prepared at high temperatures with few words and no frills. A man’s prayer, understood by others only after penetrating the hard, brittle, outer shell.
Deviled: labor-intensive, long preparation time, filled with imprecations. Best left to the professionals.
Jesus asked that we pray for those who curse us, who use us in ways that demean us and cut the ground from under our feet. The recent actions of the General Conference in threatening to bust the unions for bringing women into the role of pastors have hurt many and discouraged even more. Now there is talk of a year of ‘grace’ for the unions to reconsider their sins and repent. This is hard to swallow, especially since it threatens the very gospel that we live within.
We pray, in this case, to reconcile ourselves to God. What God will do remains to be seen.