Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Trusting Without Clarity

It comes as a tightening in my chest. A few seconds later I find it hard to breathe and I know, I know that the stress is back. My friend said I'm trying to steer my boat against the wind. I'm pushing and pushing against the direction my life is going in, determined not to give in, instead of giving the wheel to the One who is supposed to be steering.  All I have to do is let go and the boat will sail smoothly, but I resist. I resist because I don't understand. The whole clarity thing isn't a gift God is giving me right now. And that's ok, I just have to be ok with it, which is harder than it sounds.

It isn't like I have anything to complain about, which makes me feel bad about sometimes feeling bad. God has been faithful to provide, in so many ways, and I cannot deny His faithfulness. What catches me is that I don't get where He is going with all this. I don't understand what He is doing with me, my life, my future, my influence. Just a little glance in the crystal ball would be nice, just a glimpse of the future.

But I don't have a glimpse into the future, I just have today. So I take a deep breath and I pray. I pray that God would help me to accept that which I do not understand and give me patience to see Him follow through. He will follow through. That's another truth that a friend reminded me of recently. There are some things I can control and some things I can't, but no matter what happens I know for sure that God always follows through on His promises. And He has promised to work all things together for my good. He has promised to hear my prayers. He has promised to make me complete in every good way to do His work.

So as I reflect on His promises and breathe deeply in His goodness as I walk towards accepting that which I do not understand.

Last night I laid by the heater with "my kid," the one that now lives with me. We talked about life and love and God and why we can't feel His presence sometimes. I knew that I didn't have all the answers and that I myself was still trying to figure this whole thing out, but it was a good moment of reflection and togetherness. It was good for that moment to forget about bedtimes and school and how it was probably bad for us to sit so close to the heater and just share our hearts in honesty. We ended the night by linking arms and praying. I thanked God for bringing us together and I prayed that no matter what the days would bring, what heartaches or joys, whatever unexpected winds come our way, we would trust in Him.

Let Him steer and trust that the waves will not overcome us.  

Perhaps its not as hard as I make it out to be.

20 Now may the God of peace, who brought back from the dead our Lord Jesus, the great shepherd of the sheep, by the blood of the eternal covenant, 21 make you complete in everything good so that you may do his will, working among us that which is pleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be the glory forever and ever. Amen.
Hebrews 13:20-21

Saturday, February 7, 2015

A Desperate Depth of Dependence

Today I found myself sitting on a hay bale in the middle of an 80-acre farm in Georgia. It was quite the opposite of the go-go-go on a usual Saturday in Arizona and I breathed in the quiet with joy.

I'm in this part of Georgia for a quick 3 day trip to speak at a church about AYM and I am relishing in the space to think and the quiet that enables me to pray in a way I haven't quite found time for in the midst of my excuses. 

It was the topic of prayer that came up last night as I was retelling stories of my solo trip to India to my host. I exclaimed that I wasn't quite sure why I went, since I would never hop on a plane alone and go to India now. My host replied that it seemed for whatever reason to have been in God's plan for me to go. 

As I considered this I began to recall the lessons I learned in faith while alone in India. One of the key things I remember was how close I was to God in those 5 weeks. I was alone, but He was with me. Every thought was a prayer and every prayer was immediately answered. I remember praying constantly and with such fervor and earnest because I knew that I literally could not survive without Him and His provisions. My conversations with God were almost my only conversations as I lived in a place where I did not know the language. I prayed in necessity, understanding for once in my life my true and undeniable dependence on Him. He was my only option, my only hope, and my prayers reflected the deepest and most tangible relationship with Him I have ever had. In those five weeks I feel that I truly understood my need for God. 

Together my host and I reflected on that aspect of the experience. As we thought about the life of prayer that I led for those few weeks we lamented the fact that our prayer lives do not look like that now. How amazing it would be, we decided, if we had that kind of prayer life when things were "easy." What difference would it make if we prayed in earnest, truly understanding that He is our only hope in the everyday situations. What if when our friends asked us for prayer we stopped and prayed passionately, truly believing that He would immediately hear us and answer those prayers? 

I read the end of James in the Bible and he tells us that in all things we should pray and I recently got caught up in that passage. For a moment I sat there wondering, "but what about when He doesn't answer me?" Sitting on that hay bale I realized, "Perhaps I am not truly believing in earnest that He will." 

As I sit in the Georgia sun and the quiet of the farm envelopes me with the wind, I begin to pray. For the first time in a while life feels quiet enough and I feel far enough away that it is just me and God. I talk to Him like a friend, a mentor, like the One who controls it all. For the first time in a while everything is calm enough that I can focus on one thing. . . the God who holds my world in His hands. I don't receive answers in the clouds or even perhaps gain more clarity on the whys and hows of my life, but I feel a peace and I feel His presence as I slow down enough to pray with earnest. 

I hope that I can perhaps find that prayer relationship I had with God in India again in my normal life. I want to believe like that, to depend so severely on His mercy. I want to pray and mean it and I want to see what happens when I find again that desperate depth of dependence