Friday, October 15, 2010

A reminder - but not too gentle

Do not be anxious for anything

    * not even while so many people I know and love are dealing with job loss or foreclosure on a home?
    * not even the possible imminent deportation of a teenager when her family lives here in Charlotte?
    * not even chronic or terminal illness with faulty or non-existent health insurance?
    * not even the betrayal of a loved one?
    * I'm not supposed to be anxious for anything at all?

but in everything

     * even in the midst fear and worry? (Oh, yeah - I'm not supposed to be anxious...)
     * even in loneliness?
     * even in the face of demanding teenagers, uncommunicative siblings, and self-absorbed parents?

by prayer and petition

     * I'm a faithful pray-er - but I have absolutely no idea how or why it matters
     * I've got lots of petitions and requests - but I usually end up saying the same thing over and over and over: "Lord, have mercy. Christ have mercy. Lord, have mercy on us all."
     * Followed immediately by: "You have already had mercy, I know. But can you please keep the mercy flowing?"
     * And then: "If you know what we need before we ask and you have a plan for us to prosper us and not to harm us, then why is all this terrible stuff still happening? And what's it gonna take for me to really trust that you know what you're doing?"
    * Silence. Deep sighs. More silence.
    * Then I start praying again. This cycle never stops.

with thanksgiving

     * Counter-intuitive, I know. But as soon as I start the thankfulness, the gratitude list, I feel better.
     * The crazy thing is that some of the craziest things (and by "craziest things" I mean THE WORST THINGS) that have happened to me have generated the most gratitude.
     * For example, watching my dearest loved ones struggle has caused me to be enormously grateful for every normal day, for every sunny day, for every rainy day. As Billy Blanks of Tae Bo fame says: "Every day above ground is a blessed day." (Let me quickly confess that there are some days when every day does not FEEL like a blessed day... that's for sho!)

present your requests to God

     * I go back to an earlier question, one that has baffled me for years: why do I need to make known requests that are already known?
     * I've come up with a partial answer: It's not so much that I need to tell God what my requests are. It's that I'm supposed to give them to God, to present them, to hand them over. As in - stop carrying them myself. There isn't much I can do with them, so I may as well pass them along to someone who, if the testimony about God is indeed true, can do exactly the right thing with them and for us all.
     * Perhaps the goal is to stop presenting my requests and problems and pleas and demands to other helpless, hapless, sometimes hopeless folks like myself.

and the peace of God

    * Notice there is nothing said about answers to the requests. No promises here about getting everything I ask for as soon as I ask.
      * This is a HUGE phrase because if God is God, then His peace must be pretty wide and deep and I want a whole lot more of it!
      * All the peace I have felt and known in this life has come when I have allowed myself to rest in my faith, in the belief 1- that there is a God; 2- that God cares for me even when, especially when those that I had come to rely on let me down once again; and 3- that help, peace, joy, strength are all on the way. No, they are already here and I simply need to remember that they are already here and I must avail myself of them.

which surpasses all understanding
     * as far as I'm concerned, any kind of peace that lasts longer than the time it takes to drink a single cup of coffee surpasses my understanding
     * if I can produce it or explain it, it's not going to last long or surpass anything

will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.     * I have done a terrible job of guarding my own heart and mind, so I will take all the help I can get, Lord.

     * You mean I don't have to guard anyone else's heart and mind either? That's not MY job???
     * And while you're at it, God, can you guard my body and spirit and emotions too? And the hearts, minds, bodies, spirits, and emotions of everybody on the planet? Why do we so arrogantly and selfishly ask you only to bless America, Lord? Please bless everybody, every single person, everywhere. Most of the people in the world need your hand of blessing a whole lot more than we do.

Yes, every now and then, I need to be reminded to keep on praying and asking and begging and pleading for grace, mercy, strength, peace, understanding, love, forgiveness, healing, and a whole host of other stuff that keeps me upright when I would must rather be facedown. Even if nothing outside of me changes as a result of my prayer - in fact, there have been times when I have been convinced that prayer has made a drastic difference, not only for in my own life, but also in the lives of people I have prayed for - at least I know that inside of me, everything is changing. Absolutely everything.

No comments: