Friday, April 26, 2013

The prayer of a wise fool

I am weary, O God;
I am weary, O God,
and worn out.
When I read Proverbs 30 for the first time, I could hardly believe that the words were just there, in the holy scripture, staring me in the face. I mean, how did he know? Agur, a stranger with a strange name gave words to the prayer my soul so desperately needed to pray.
Surely I am too stupid to be a man.
I have not the understanding of a man.
I have not learned wisdom,
nor have I knowledge of the Holy One.
It was strangely liberating to confess my stupidity. Though my version is so much less poetic. It usually goes something like this: "Dumb! Dumb! Dumb! Why am I so dumb?" Sometimes, the most truthful thing we can pray is simply, I don't know, Lord, I just don't know.

Who knew? The Word of God is so vast and so complete that it even has a chapter on "How to Pray on Days When You Feel Stupid and Tired: For Dummies." While the Psalms teach us how to weep over our iniquities and meaningless suffering, Agur gives us words for grey skies and a weary heart.

Here at the end of the magnum opus of Hebraic proverbs, Agur had nothing but a heavy sigh. He understood just how far short he measured from what was required of him. The chasm between life before God and life in the world can sometimes be overwhelming. The Bible is not a checklist of all the things we need to do in order to be saved. Rather, it is a mirror for us to see ourselves, in order that we may know how much we are in need of a Savior. So, Agur prayed — tired and empty.

But he doesn't stay there.

Who has ascended to heaven and come down?
Who has gathered the wind in his fists?
Who has wrapped up the waters in a garment?
Who has established all the ends of the earth?
What is his name?
Agur beckoned his soul to remember the creation, the greatness of his God. Suddenly, the frame of his vision was blown up. Agur's focus shifted from the narrowness of his introspection to the vastness of nature, from his own limitations to Yahweh's limitless power.

Who is able to hold the hurricane captive in the palm of his hand? Yahweh. Who can contain the oceans in the fold of his garment? Yahweh. He speaks and the mountains obey. The height of the heaven is nothing to him.

Great is the Lord and most worthy of praise.

And then Agur asked,
what is the name of his son?
As Hanan, my two-year-old, would say, "Jesus!"

Wait, what?

Um... Isn't Proverbs in the Old Testament? Jesus wasn't born yet.
Who, then, was this son of Yahweh that Agur spoke of?

The relationship between father and son is the backbone of the book of Proverbs. Chapters 1 through 9 are instructions told in the voice of a father to his son. They are the foundation, the context, the setting of the entire book. The son is the recipient of the father's discipline and reproof, the one listening to his father's voice.

Yahweh is a father.  "The Lord reproves him whom he loves, as a father the son in whom he delights" (Prov 3:12). Therefore, whoever listens to Yahweh's voice and follows his way is a child of God.

Who, then, is the son of Yahweh? Who is his daughter?

You are, O weary soul.

"Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest."
(Matthew 11:28)

Here are my take-away points from Agur on "How to Pray on Days When You Feel Stupid and Tired: For Dummies."

1. Remember Yahweh
     a. Speak to him
     b. Beckon your soul to remember his power and his strength
2. Remember the nature of your relationship with this great and awesome God.

He is your father. He loves you and he delights in you.
And for our weary days, this is enough for us to live on.


E! said...

Thank you again

Rachel Erin said...

Definitely feeling like a "dummy" lately!! Many of my prayers have been "I just don't know, God"! Thank you for the reminder that my weaknesses bring him the most glory!! So glad to have found your blog today! Thank you!

Teyen Chou said...

Thanks Irene (: I needed this encouraging post since I've been stressed and down these past few days haha...

Irene Sun said...

Teyen - Aww... Is everything ok? I will be lifting you up in my prayer.

E! said...

Digging this up today for me, and for you, as a long grey sky yawns. Abba is so good to us sister.

Wisdom is the ocean, filling the chasm between two worlds, drawing our sights and hopes over. And up. Christ our brother. He's crossed oceans for us, to give us life, bear us home.

Thank you for teaching me to pray and hope. Over so many years, with such labor. Love you friend.

Irene Sun said...

Esther - Thank you for digging. =) Wisdom is indeed the ocean, and Christ our brother, bearing us home.