“I want to know if you’re the real deal…” questions the Jason Bourne-like CIA guy.
Dropped in the desert under the cover of night after gaining clearance, he joined me on a mission to dissuade tribal leaders from linking forces with a militant group during wartime. In our line of work, we knew each day could be our last.
The leaders guided us back to their camp, putting us in a giant bedouin tent where we were left alone to sleep; the next morning, in another room, a low table was filled with food and 4 place settings.
Jason Bourne asked, “Why are their 4 places set?”
Just as puzzled about the 4 place settings, it continued throughout our stay.
One night, drinking tea with the leaders after our talks concluded, my new friend asked them in their native language—which I didn’t know he could speak (and I probably didn’t know his real name),
“Why have there been 4 plates set at each meal?”
Confused, they replied, “Because there are 4 of you.”
He retorted, “There’s 4 of us?”
“Yeah, the security guy: the big guard who stands outside your tent while you’re sleeping.”
Jason Bourne turns to me and translates, “They think we have a security guy!”
The tribal leaders realized we couldn’t see the security guy and began using the word, “malak:” angel in their language.
Both groups simultaneously recognized that we have some kind of angelic security figure outside our tent.
In their language, they began repeating, “It’s an angel from God!”
Turning to Jason Bourne, they inquired, “We’ve wanted to ask you why your security guy has a sword.”
We looked at each other, “Our guy has a sword!?”
Back in our tents in the blackness of night, the youngest of our trio asked, “How many guards do you think we really have?”
Later, Jason Bourne whispered, “I know you’re the real deal now.”
(*Excerpts from this true account paraphrased from interviews of Jamie Winship)
What we think is true is not what’s actually true; this is why we ask God, ‘What do you want us to know?’ Because we don’t know everything that’s going on. If we did, it wouldn’t scare us; it would give us peace. Jamie Winship
I’m not sure if it’s my prayer life, my view of God and His Kingdom realm, or my faith, but something big shifted inside after listening to these accounts from this police officer turned CIA-but-not-really-CIA agent.
When I remind myself that what I see is not all there is, what I’m facing seems somehow less frightening. Not that I have control, but the infinite, eternal, unshaken, good God who sits on His Thone has everything under HIS control.
From these interviews and his book, Living Fearless, I’ve learned the purpose and power of asking 2 questions daily:
God, what do you need me to know?
What do you want me to do?
And this question when facing fearful or uncertain circumstances:
How should I think about this situation or circumstance?
I began asking these questions a few months ago, much surprised by what followed.
God has answered in specific and profound ways; sometimes in the moment, but often I wait.
Some days are regular, quiet days, and I hear nothing. Some days He speaks clearly.
“God, what do you need me to know about my patients or family today?”
“God, what do you want me to do today?”
“God, how should I think about this situation?”
I’ve received specific encouragement during chance encounters, with my patient’s parents, as well as unconventional explanations and personal encouragement while teaching.
These questions have also been transformative in another critical area: my sin.
I’m learning the ways I succumb to and cooperate with darkness in pride and selfishness. While it’s grievous, the repentance and resulting sweetness of deepened communion with my Good Shepherd is nothing short of intoxicating.
So am I perpetually, sublimely joyful and peaceful? Not even close, but I keep pressing in.
I have nowhere near the faith or boldness of Jamie Winship or his Jason Bourne-like comrade, but taking the first step is just as significant and courageous as taking the one-millionth step.
Why not try whispering these questions in the quiet (or chaos) of your morning this week and see how the Lord will answer?
It may take some time to attune your heart and mind to this method of asking, but be patient and gentle with yourself.
Listening to God produces internal peace that results in external peace. Paying attention, being aware, and receiving the annunciations of divine love and truth resolve conflict in your inner world and then overflow to the people of the world. Jamie Winship
I wonder what your security guy looks like? I bet he wields a sword too.