I Never Could "Leave It at the Alter!" Until I Heard This! Life gives us problems.
Sometimes life gives us big problems. Then there are the kind of problems that stop us in our tracks. We can't work, think, socialize, or even pray. Especially pray. After all, God could have intervened by now to cure my cancer, heal my marriage, provide needed finances, lead me to a mate, save my dad, or end my cravings. My sister didn't have to die, my best friend didn't have to move, and my daughter didn't have to end up on meth.
Today is another day where you are staring at your computer, but you aren't producing any work. You are going through the motions on the job. You have no prayer life, and haven't read the Bible in weeks. It is all you can do to get up for church, and sometimes you can't do that. Your eating and sleeping are all over the place. You stare at the TV for hours. Numbing your hurts.
The pastor has an alter call. "I know there are some here today who are hurting. You don't understand why you need to go through this trial. You need comfort, and God has promised to provide you with that comfort. But you need to act first. You need to bring your concerns to the alter and turn them over to God. He wants to take care of whatever is on your heart. Come up now and bring all your problems to Jesus."
So you do. You feel better for an hour or a day. But then it's back. Next time someone tells you to just turn it over to Jesus, you add their suggestion to the long list of "worthless platitudes" that your friends and family have been offering. It didn't work. It won't work.
That is where you would have found me 5 years ago. I'll spare you the gory details, but broke, separated, in default on the mortgage, facing bankruptcy. Starting over at age 60 with a new business, I was working 16 hours a day, but getting an hour worth of work actually completed. I had no interest in anything but my own pile of problems. Enter my sister, Judy.
Putting My Problems in a Box
"Why don't you just put it all in a box," she offers. Aaaghhh! I want to say. Instead I tell her that I've tried leaving it at the alter... literally, and giving it to God, and it isn't working for me.
She responds: "Oh! That's because you are doing it wrong."
"Ok. Whatever," I tell her. "I'm pretty sure I did it the right way."
Well, did you give yourself permission to take your problems out of the box later, so you could cry over them, rehash them, think about them, pray about them, yell at God about them, and try to move forward on them for fifteen minutes before putting them back in the box?"
"Huh?" I cleverly grunted.
"Sure. You get to take them out, but only for a little while. Then you put them back in the box."
I actually felt lighter for the first time in weeks. "Won't that ruin the whole idea of giving the issue over to God? If I can take it back, then I haven't really trusted Him to do it."
Judy had an answer: "That's the beauty of this. You aren't taking it out of the box to solve it. That's God's part. You are taking it out of the box to lift it back up to Him in whatever way you can at the moment. King David commonly lifted his issues up with a great deal of anger and frustration. Other times he praised God for his provision, comfort, or strength."
Now she had my attention. I'm a problem solver. It is my most difficult area of submission. I may believe that God can do all that He says He can and will do, but my actions belie my belief. I trust me more than Him far too often. But here was a way I could relinquish the burden to Him in a way that made sense.
For me, the results were nothing short of miraculous. The very next day and every day after that I was fully functioning and clear thinking. Even as other issues entered that could have taken me off track, I was able to abide in His strength far better than ever before.
I pray that this story will be as helpful to you as it was to me. And if it is, please tell others, or at least send them this link.