Prayer, Creativity & Faith

The Advocate

It’s funny how God speaks… sometimes He uses my own words to break through the clutter in my mind because I am really not listening.

Last November (and the months leading up to it), I created twelve months of prayer prompt calendars so I could have the full 2019 calendar printed. For December, I focused on names and aspects of God—the Lion, the Lamb, the Wonderful Counselor, the Prince of Peace, and so on. Today, December 14, the prompt is The Advocate. Which reminded me of an insight I had as I wrote a speech for a conference two months ago… which I had not yet had when I made the calendar a year ago. I love it when things like this happen.

The prompt: Jesus is our advocate.

Yeah, maybe that’s not powerful to you, but let me tell you why it makes me jump up and shout (well, on the inside, because I’m really not all that demonstrative on the outside!). As I’ve been reading about the Enneagram, which is such an insightful tool for understanding myself and others, I’ve discovered that I am clearly an 8. Anyone who knows me would say that’s not a surprise. Part of me hates that I’m so clearly an 8, because they can be like bulldozers, knocking down everything and everyone around them, oblivious of who they might offend or run over on the way to getting stuff done. 8s are about boldness, about having strong opinions and loving intellectual debate for the sake of the debate, about not wanting to appear vulnerable or weak… things that aren’t all that nice to be, if I’m being honest. But we are also about fighting injustice, defending those who cannot or will not defend themselves. We are natural born advocates.

A little while back, when some prominent men made disparaging comments about Beth Moore, lots of people were upset about the attitude towards women. Should they or should they not be in positions of leadership and influence? Should they or should they not have the authority to teach Scripture? I read the articles, and although the situation didn’t surprise me in the least, I didn’t let myself get upset. It wasn’t worth the emotional toll of letting myself get caught up in the fight. Not because it didn’t matter, but because I didn’t want to dignify it or waste any of my time on something that isn’t going to change my (or anyone else’s) opinion.

…Until a dear friend shared the article privately and poured out how much it hurt her, as a woman in ministry, to think that she shouldn’t be allowed to share her message of love with other people… and  how sad and burdened she was that this situation was pitting men and women against women who spread the gospel.

And all of a sudden, I felt something rise up in me. I was ready to fight. Protect. Defend. Because NOW it mattered, because now someone I loved was hurt by it. The advocate in me stood up and prepared for battle. I was only aware of it because of how rapidly my feelings about the situation changed. I immediately wrote a long and impassioned response and lifted her up in prayer. What I did wasn’t big or remarkable, but it showed me something important about myself.

Because listen to this:

My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. And if anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. (1 John 2:1-2, NIV)

So yes, I will rush to defend others, and when I do, it is Jesus Himself rising up in me.

But the truth is I won’t always do what I need to do for myself when my faith is suffering, my prayer life is nonexistent, I’ve stopped reading or studying the Bible, and I’m just going through the motions. Throughout my adult life, I have watched God in those moments reach me in crazy and roundabout ways, often reminding me of words I had written that now applied to me. Thinking about Jesus as an advocate reminds me of all the other times that He has been my advocate. When He has spoken to me in my grief. When He has called me to pray for others when I could no longer pray for myself—and in those moments, I have found my own faith again.

In my biggest moments of weakness and doubt, in those times when I am stuck and don’t know what to do, Jesus has always been faithful to advocate for ME.

The definition of advocate is “a person who supports others to make their voices heard, or ideally for them to speak up for themselves; to plead in favor of; to defend; to support.” How cool is that? To have our own personal advocate in the face of opposition and struggles we cannot handle on our own?

When I am faithless, He remains faithful (2 Timothy 2:13). When I am weak, He is strong (2 Corinthians 12:10). God does not expect me to face all of my battles alone. He will provide what I need—and sometimes what I need is for Him to face the challenge not just with me but for me. In my place. Just as He did on the cross. Just as He has done my whole life.

We are not alone in this walk, in this life—even if it feels that way at times. We have someone who mourns with us, rejoices with us—and defends us when we are unable to defend ourselves. Sometimes those battles aren’t external, but internal—so God’s battle plan may take the form of breaking through our own defenses so we can let HIM in.

He knows us. He knows the things others don’t know. He knows the things I haven’t even yet discovered about myself (as well as the things I want to pretend I don’t see about myself). And He will not let me be tripped up by them. He stands up and defends me. Eliminates my excuses. Challenges me. Encourages me. Gently, so gently, nudges me forward. Time and time again. Faithful, even when I am not. Especially when I am not. 

Thank You, Lord, for those little words and connections and nudges. For the epic battles you fight for me, even when I am naively unaware. For loving me, and using my words to speak to me. For reminding me who You are and how You love. For being good, and true, and faithful, forevermore. Amen.

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