Friday, February 20, 2004

It Really Works!

I hope your semester is going well. May seems to be approaching sooner and sooner. While that fact can cause a lot of stress, as people of faith we have a unique stress-buster that literally works miracles. I know that as Mid-Terms and Finals loom closer, many of you use access this de-stressor quite a bit. What am I talking about? Prayer, of course.

Early this afternoon I received a phone call from my Mom sharing about how God miraculously answered prayers for one of our family members. This is a situation that seemed hopeless, that has lasted for over a year, and that we have been praying about ceaselessly as a family for a long time. Just when things seemed most impossible, God came through. And in an instant, a terrible trial was over. Praise the Lord! This is something ONLY God could have done.

Just this morning I felt led to e-mail a prayer to this family that is so close to my heart, encouraging them to TRUST in the Lord, to TRUST that He has heard ALL of our prayers, and that in His mercy, no matter the outcome, He has answered in love. And then two hours later I get a phone call from my Mom confirming that God had moved in a mighty way.

Today, I want to encourage you to take inventory of your prayer life over the last few months. What have you been praying for regularly? Where has your heart been moved the most? Where is your spirit most involved and most actively petitioning God’s help? When days, months, and even years pass without seeing any “visible” answers to our prayers, it is easy to give up. But be encouraged. The One we are praying to stands alone. No one else is as loving, merciful, or WISE. Things that we may not understand He has a perfect grasp of. And He is working in ways that we cannot see. Know that every prayer you have prayed is a precious treasure in His sight. He honors and values each one, because God LOVES to hear from you. He may redirect it; He may postpone fulfilling it; He may even seem to reject the outcome you are laboring for. Yet in every case God is giving you His best. He is giving you His heart, His presence, His peace, if you let Him. Know that YOU are precious in His sight, and He hears and answers EVERY prayer you send up.

If you are struggling in prayer over a situation that hasn’t seemed to budge for a long time, know that you are not alone. My heart goes out to you. There are some prayers in my own life that I continue to hope for, even though years have passed since I began praying them. Let us labor together. Let us continue to encourage one another. Let us continue to hope, not so much in the prayers themselves, but in the One that we are praying to. God’s answers may tarry, but in the end there will be no doubt that God hand has been powerfully at work.

In the meantime, I am doing an anticipatory happy dance. God is so good; I’m going to thank Him ahead of time.

Blessings and love,


Thursday, February 05, 2004

The Gift of Boredom

Dear Friends,

Hope everyone everyone survived last night’s blizzard. I woke up this morning pretty amazed. Isn’t that just like life? In the matter of moments the landscape of our lives can change drastically. If you’re like me though, it’s hard to imagine that kind of upheaval when the monotony of ordinariness keeps repeating itself everyday. Sometimes it’s even easy to get lost in the monotony, to lose one’s bearings, one’s sense of direction, ones’ sense of self, even one’s sense of God’s presence. Jeanie Miley describes this experience in her book Creative Silence:

Where are you, God?—My struggle didn’t end just because I wanted it over with in short order. It seemed to me that God had left me and I could not find Him. As I walked about, carrying on the daily responsibilities, but searching for guidance and battling my self-will run riot, I carried on the inner dialogue with this God who seemed to be hiding.

The questioning for me usually falls along the same lines, and at the core of the question is the issue of whether or not I am going to let God run the world. I question the direction I am to take. I wonder if He is going to take care of things and provide. I wrestle with Him as I work through relationships and conflicts, and yet in the struggle, I find Him and new depths of His love.

Underneath it all, the quiet abiding presence of our Lord is always with us . . . regardless of how we feel. One of the things my father told me as I was trying to figure out my future during college was that, “If we are absolutely committed to seeking God’s will, then God is absolutely committed to revealing it. God may not reveal it ahead of time, but God will always reveal it just in time.” In some ways those endlessly stagnant seasons in our lives are moments of testing and strengthening, when we discover how deep our faith really goes. It is as if our circumstances reveal how willing we really are to follow Christ, not just through the good times, not just through the exciting times, not even just through the difficult times. It leaves us with the question: Do I love Him enough to follow Him, even through the boring times?

As time has passed in my own life, I have learned a vital truth that serves to strengthen my own resolve in dry seasons. It is this: the boring times are really not boring at all. They are seasons of great growth and action, but all of it is unseen to the human eye. From God’s perspective, we are being seeded with the newness of His plans and purposes for us. It is like the trees in winter. The look dead above ground, but below the surface their roots are growing more than at any other time of the year. The same is true for us. In the monotony, in the boredom, in the middle of those days where nothing seems to be happening, we are being transformed in ways we could never imagine. The promises of God are being planted in us, fertilized and nurtured, so that at an appropriate Spring-like day of the soul they will burst forth with reckless and beautiful abandon. But it never happens without the waiting.

Keep the faith. You are all precious. God is doing awesome things in you.