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No More Filters - A Christian Short Story

Gabriella walked into her prayer room, Bible and journal in hand. At thirty-eight, she’d had all the troubles she could handle. For years, she battled discouragement daily.

Huge debts, an ailing marriage, two rebellious teenage children, high blood pressure, and fair-weather friends all contributed their quota to her daily struggle.

She placed the books on the table at the middle of the room and went straight into worshipping God. That was her usual way to begin prayers.

Pacing the small room, she used all the perfect words she’d learned over the years to eulogize the Lord.

“I love you, King of the Universe, majestic in power, great warrior, ruler over the kingdoms of men. You are glorious in holiness, the mighty deliverer, Rose of Sharon. Bright morning star, balm of Gilead, covenant keeper…”

After going on for a while, she suddenly became aware of God’s presence. It had never happened that way.  Nothing visual, only an awareness that He was there like He’d never been.

The hairs on her nape stood erect. She fell on her face on the icy floor. God had come to rebuke her for not living up to standard. Or for her failing marriage. Or…

“Speak to me,” an inaudible voice said. “Take off that façade you’ve been putting on and say what’s really in your heart.”

Gabriella’s fright lifted off her shoulder like a wet, heavy cloak. She began to weep, all the pent-up bitterness rising to the top.

“Lord, you don’t care about me! I feel abandoned, I’m in so much pain and confusion, but you never came to my rescue! I have wayward children, an abusive husband, and these debts! They’re killing me. Where have you been?

“Where’s your great power I read of in Scriptures? Where’s the God that rained manna from heaven and brought water out of the rock?

“I cry daily, but my tears mean nothing to you.  I serve you as much as I can, but there’s nothing to show for. No joy, no peace, and no hope. Why are you silent in my life?”

She sobbed for several minutes.

“I know I shouldn’t talk this way, but that’s how sincere I can be. If you can, please help me.”

The inaudible voice came on again. “1 Peter 5:7.”

Gabriella grabbed her Bible from the table and flipped to the quoted portion. “Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you.”

She put the opened Bible on the table, her gazes drifting across the room. “He cares for you. He cares for… me.”

She picked up the Bible again and read slowly. “Casting all, all… ALL your care upon him, for he careth for you.”

Gabriella sobbed again. Every year, she’d read through the Bible. She’d come over 1 peter 5:7 at least six times in the last six years. “But I’ve never applied this scripture to my life.”

Many years back, she learned that it wasn’t faith to acknowledge your struggles, not even to God. A good Christian, a faith Christian, rejoiced always. A good Christian worshipped God in all situations. A good Christian, a strong Christian, was as stiff as steel amid challenges.

“I’ve been trying to be a good Christian, but hasn’t worked.

“Lord, I want to cast my cares on you, but I can’t. How do I—”

“Proverbs 3:5-6,” the inaudible said in Gabriella’s spirit.

Once again, she grabbed her Bible and flipped through to the reference. “Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.”

So much to mine from the text. Gabriella soaked amply in those heartwarming rebukes.

“Lord, don’t be angry with me. I don’t want to doubt your word, but it’s hard for me to give up my worries. You mean I should just trust you? Just like that?”

Still, Gabriella didn’t really speak her mind. What if God disappoints me? What if He doesn’t come through for me? My tears have meant nothing to Him.

The inaudible voice whispered, “Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.”

Gabriella recognized the reference. 1 John 4:9-10. As she read the words in her Bible, her spiritual eyes popped opened. Yes, He loved her! He loved her! He loved…her!

Her doubts and lingering fear pulled up by their roots and flew away. She could trust the One who loved her like no other. She would trust Him. Yes, she would pray in sincerity. No more façade, no more filters.

“Father, I’m sorry for not trusting you all these years. I am sorry that each time I came to pray, I tried to impress you instead of having fellowship with you. Forgive me.

“I have so much pain right now. My marriage is failing, and I’m confused and helpless. I’ve tried all I know to love Nicholas and have him love me. We have drifted so far apart I hardly recognize him as the caring man I married seventeen years ago. Lord, please help me. Show me what to do.”

Whatever she felt the Lord speak to her heart, she wrote it down in her journal. Then she continued pouring out her heart to Him, laying down her burdens at His feet.

As she got up from the place of prayer more than an hour later, Gabriella remembered a scripture that had been dear to her in her younger days. Isaiah 41:10.

“Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness.”

She smiled. Whatever the future held for her marriage, children, and finances, she would trust in God and find her strength in him. She would cling to his promises.

She had removed her religious filters and enjoyed true communion with her heavenly Father. She had tasted the joy of being sincere before the Lord, to pour out her heart to Him without fear. Nothing could be this refreshing.

It is easy to put on filters in our relationship with the Lord and never even be aware of it. That’s a common hindrance to true communion with God in many Christian’s lives. And is one of the reasons we find prayer time very unpleasant.

Although we know from his word that God is a being, a person, many times we approach him as if he’s just a cosmic force, distant from us.

Although our lips may call him Father, we behave as if he’s an enemy or someone indifferent to our struggles, and we must use high-sounding words to impress this hard-to-please Father.

Some of us have been influenced by wrong faith teachings that basically teach us to ignore reality, as though ignoring our pain and struggles would make them go away.

We won’t acknowledge our problems, even to God. Instead we resort to positive declarations, saying things with our mouths while our hearts remain unsatisfied because we haven’t bared them before God.

You will always leave the place of prayer feeling unsatisfied if you’ve not talked to God from the heart. The result of true communion with the Lord is joy and replenishment.

If you want to always be refreshed at the place of prayer, you must learn to speak from your heart to the Lord. Tell him your pain, tell him all that troubles you, your confusion, your fears.

This is not complaining or being angry with God. It is pouring your heart to him. Even if you start from a place of resentment, it is better than saying things with your lips that your heart doesn’t agree with.

When you begin to empty your heart with what is wrong, God can then begin to fill it with the right things.

From personal experience, scriptures easily come to my mind when I lay my heart open before the Lord. That doesn’t happen when I try to be smug with him, when I play tough, or when I make prayer a mere formality to salve my religious mind and emotions.

God knows your thoughts and heart. But it won’t benefit you not to acknowledge it to him. To cast your care on him, you must acknowledge you have burdens. You must talk to him in sincerity.

As you do that, if you do not have the faith to trust him, he’ll help you deal with whatever is the hindrance to total trust in his goodness and faithfulness. He digs up your problem of trust until the roots are exposed and taken out.

Your circumstances may remain the same, but your attitude and reaction towards them would change when you know that you know that you know you’ve laid it at the feet of the Savior.

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Janet is a Christian with a knack for writing. While it helps her to unclutter her mind, she also uses the talent to encourage the pursuit of intimacy with God and a purpose-driven life.

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