Jesus said . . . “How hard it is to enter the kingdom of God! It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.” The disciples . . . said to each other, “Who then can be saved?” Jesus . . . said, “With man this is impossible, but not with God; all things are possible with God.” —Mark 10:24-27
I’m a little embarrassed to say this, but one of my favorite authors is Theodor Geisel, also known as Dr. Seuss. That’s right—one of my favorite authors is a children’s writer. Dr. Seuss was a master of helping us to see and understand big and amazing things in simple, childlike ways.
One of my favorite stories by Dr. Seuss is On Beyond Zebra!. In this story a boy is showing another boy how to spell: “The A is for Ape. And the B is for Bear. The C is for Camel. The H is for Hare. The M is for Mouse. And the R is for Rat. I know all the twenty-six letters like that.”
But that wasn’t enough for this boy. He found it necessary to go “on beyond Z,” or “on beyond Zebra.” “In the places I go,” he said, “there are things that I see that I never could spell if I stopped with the Z.”
And do you know what? That’s absolutely true in our relationship with God. Our little alphabet is completely inadequate when it comes to describing God, especially when it comes to describing what God has done for your and my salvation—and our neighbors’. Jesus says, simply and clearly, “All things are possible with God.” This means God can do things in your neighbors’ lives that are beyond description. In fact, God can do things that are “on beyond” our imagination—including things he can do for your neighbors through people like you and me (Ephesians 3:20). “But you don’t know my neighbor!” you might be saying. That’s true.
I don’t know your neighbor. I don’t know the pain he or she has had. I don’t know how thick your neighbor’s skin is against the work of the Holy Spirit. I don’t know how skilled your neighbor is in tying your thoughts into knots when you try to share your faith with him. I don’t know your neighbor and the unique challenge she is for you.
But I do know something about God. God can do the impossible. He saved you and me. He also has the desire to save your neighbor. These are miracles we can’t begin to describe! And God is the one who does them!
Sometimes we need to be reminded that God doesn’t expect us to do miracles. He simply wants us to pray for our neighbors, show them we care, and share his message of good news in Jesus. God wants us to live as examples of Jesus’ love for our neighbors.
As we pray for our neighbors, God’s Spirit works at preparing their hearts to receive him. As we pray, God’s Spirit also works in us to give us the compassion and care for our neighbors that God himself has. And in the meantime God prepares opportunities for us to spend time with and talk with our neighbors. All we have to do is be faithful, listening, looking for needs to be filled, and sharing about how much God means to us.
And in God’s strength we can do that (Philippians 4:13)! Let God work through you in surprising ways. God’s love for you and your neighbor in his wonder-filled life for you goes “on beyond Zebra”!
Prayer Starters for Praying Mark 10:24-27
- Praise God that his grace reaches all the way into your life, into your neighborhood, and into the lives of each person you will meet today.
- Ask God to fill you with a love that is “on beyond Zebra.” Ask God to give you his love for your neighbor.
- Thank God that he is able to do the impossible. Thank God, too, for his desire to do the impossible in your life and in your neighbors’ lives.
–Adapted from Be Jesus in Your Neighborhood (Developing a Prayer, Care, Share Lifestyle in 30 Days) by Alvin VanderGriend. This book is available at prayershop.org. Use the code CONPSP3 at checkout to receive an additional 10% discount.
Praise God as the creator of all life, including your own (Isa. 45:18). Give thanks for his splendor, seen in all his mighty creation (Psalm 148). Confess to God those times when you have forgotten that all of your life and this world is a creation of God. Commit yourself to seeing your life as God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus (Eph. 2:10). Ask God to show you the good works that he has prepared in advance for you to do.
Pray that parents will raise their children as the handiwork of God and encourage their children’s creativity as image-bearers of the Creator.
“Teach us to pray that we may cause
The enemy to flee,
That we his evil power may bind,
His prisoners to free.”