Welcome to my blog...

Green trees, cool water, a gentle breeze...the perfect place to sit at the feet of the Master and learn. Jesus taught so often on the shoreline, and He's still speaking today.

This is where I share the lessons He teaches me, often during the time I spend on the shores of a local lake. I don't have all the answers...and some days I don't have any. But I go here when I need to draw near to Him in a tangible way. Come with me...

Monday, September 21, 2015

The Despair to Prayer Chronicles - Part 2

Welcome to Part 2 of this 6 part journey I wrote exactly 4 years ago. If you missed yesterday's post, you can read it here.

If you did read yesterday's post, you'll recall I was in a "prayer desert", desperately in need of God's presence, but feeling far from it. That's where we pick up today...

Please note the title is "Despair to Prayer" - not "Despair to No Cares".  

Even as I write this, there are things going on in my life that are burdensome. I am in uncharted, possibly life-altering territory and if I'm going to make it through, I need to cling to God...hard.

Prayer isn't a magic pill you swallow that turns everything to sunshine and rainbows.

No, prayer is a lifeline that connects you to the One who holds you fast even in the midst of the fiercest storm.

It gives you strength and focus. It keeps you from drowning in a sea of despair.

I've heard it said 'the day you have no troubles is the day you wake up in heaven'.  We live in a fallen world with a real enemy who, even though he may have lost the battle for our souls (if we're believers), still intends to do everything in his power to keep us from living joyous, power-filled and victorious Christian lives.  He can't alter our future, but he can mess with our present if we allow him to.  Thank God we have this promise "greater is He who is in you, than he who is in the world."

Yesterday I said "all of a sudden, I found myself in the desert".  It's not that the trip into the desert was sudden, it was more the actual realization that my throat was parched and I had grit in my teeth that was kind of overnight.  Looking back, I see that things had been piling up, one by one.  That's always the way, isn't it?  Like the Casting Crowns song says:

It's a slow fade when you give yourself away
It's a slow fade when black and white have turned to gray
Thoughts invade, choices are made, a price will be paid
When you give yourself away
People never crumble in a day
It's a slow fade...

I was burning the candle at both ends, and letting things fall through the cracks.  Before I knew it, I was so busy dealing with the squeakiest wheels, I had no time to slow down and hear the still small voice calling me.

The more I didn't pray, the more I didn't want to pray.

By the weekend before I left for vacation, I was physically spent, emotionally raw, and spiritually empty.

I went to church Sunday, but I didn't want to go in and sit down.  I saw a friend in the lobby and shared with her about this overwhelming sadness I couldn't explain, and how the big picture looked so insurmountable I didn't even know where or how to take my next step.

She asked if I'd been to the service yet, and I confessed I really wasn't sure I wanted to go.  "You need to hear it" she said..."he's talking to you right where you are."

I begrudgingly slipped into a seat in the balcony.

That Sunday was the 10th anniversary of 9/11.  The sermon was out of Habakkuk, and the message was about moving from despair to praise.

I wasn't ready to praise!

Instead, I walked out weeping.  Eventually, I tried to regroup and walked back into the sanctuary downstairs, not taking a seat, but standing where no one could see my red eyes.  On the screen flashed verses from Psalm 42.  Several times I read the words "Why are you downcast, O my soul?  Why so disturbed within me?"  That's when the tear ducts really opened up. Like the psalmist, I didn't know why, but I knew my soul was downcast.

I couldn't stand anymore. I turned on my heel and left.

That night, before I packed to leave for the shore, I called a friend.  I shared some of what I was feeling.  She gave me an assignment.  "You're going for 3 days, right?"  I confirmed.  "Okay...each day, I want you to read a chapter out of Habakkuk - there are only 3!"  She gave me some other instructions, and said she would be praying for me.

I hung up and set about the task of packing my bags, grateful to be going far enough away that I didn't have to deal with anyone I knew for a few days.

Tomorrow, the praying begins...

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