Friday, June 3, 2011

An Unexpected Service

Seasons.  Seasons of change, seasons of trial, and seasons of rest.  Labor pains, the bible talks about those too.  As each year goes by, each birthday passes, and I watch my children grow, I think I'm beginning to catch a teeny tiny glimpse of what I'm supposed to learn as I grow up.  That's right, ME, MAMA, the one that holds us all together here in this house....still growing up with the rest of them! 

As a Mom, I know what labor pains bring.  A miracle, beauty, joy, life.  As an unnoticed part of such a strange, changing American culture, I recognize the signs of the times.  Labor pains.  They hurt and we ache with the sight of broken families, natural disasters, moral decline, prodigal sons, and the innocent bystanders involved.  But as Christians, we have a hope.  Even in the midst of uncertain times and in a society where any and everything goes, we need not fear our eternal future.  The good Lord told us these things would come, and that we would be okay.

I'm not an infant Christian, neither am I old and wise. I think I can humbly yet safely say I've gained some bit of maturity in my faith.  I live this faith, raise my children in the same, and ACT on my faith.  So some would think I've conquered the biggest, baddest boulder of them all!  I serve the Lord, I mean actually get out there, get my hands dirty and let my heart be torn and SHARE THE GOSPEL!  I have family I love who don't seem too happy with me anymore.  They're wonderful people, they love me dearly, but I've become too 'religious', a bible thumper, better than them in their eyes in a way that lets their irritation and annoyance with me seep through their tone and comments. 

I won't change.  My feelings being hurt by some of the people I love the most is a small price for the life I've been given.  I'm not a Christian because I'm good enough, but only because I know I'm not.  My heart breaks that I can't share this with those mentioned who I love so very much.  See, that's the sad part of it all.  I don't think they really know what exactly it is I believe at all, because I've never been given the chance and their open hearts to share with.  They just can't seem to get past the 'bible thumper' and stereotypical idea of who they think I've become long enough to hear who I've really become.  And this post wasn't supposed to be about that or about them.  So I will leave these thoughts by telling you that I CAN and WILL continue to pray for them. 

Wait just a minute.....those thoughts found their way into this post for a reason after all.

Because what's really on my heart is that I DON'T KNOW HOW TO PRAY!  I can't quite wrap my heart completely around that sentence, but I know it is true.  Slowly, patiently, our gracious Lord is prodding my heart where it needs strengthened the most. 

It's taken me several days, maybe even a week to really put my finger on exactly what this means and how it fits into my relationship with God. 

Now I'm really going to go out on a limb and pretend I can come close to correctness in making an overall assessment in my walk with Christ....

I'm a very strong student in the word.

I LOVE the Lord and acknowledge Him in every part of my life and this family.

Daily I stumble, which has led to truly knowing repentance.

My confidence is weak, possibly because of the above mentioned stumbles.

I have a strong sense of right and wrong and discern such through the Word and the Holy Spirit's presence in my life.

I love to praise Him and have grown stronger in doing so.

I serve Him with gladness, sharing the gospel with women in crisis and many others.

I filter the influences which come into this family because I know the importance.

I pray.  I pray throughout my day, I pray at meals (admittedly in a hurried, required way), I've gotten past the fear of praying out loud or with others (a big step), and I know what it is to drop to my knees and plead, cry out to, and bed the Lord to hear me.  To FIX THIS.  Because I just don't understand.

Sounds pretty good, doesn't it?  Something is missing and it comes to a hole my prayer life.  I can study all day, I can share all day, and I can even remember to pray and truly mean it when I talk to the Lord.  But I CANT SLOW DOWN long enough in the midst of crises, fear, pain, and trials to really meet Him where He has asked me to come.  This is a big deal, this is detrimental in my walk with the Lord, this is something that brings my husband, children, and entire family to a very vulnerable place.

It allows them to be open to arrows of attack.  It allows embers of change to slowly go unnoticed and burn out.  It stops me from doing what He has called me to do for THEM.  I know that His plan and His grace are bigger than this, than them, and definitely bigger than little, unsure me!  But I also know that when He calls, I am to listen.  And He is calling me, telling me, giving me this opportunity to see what it is I need to strengthen to better serve Him and better protect this family. 

I have this way about me, this ability to become distracted from the need by thinking about the need.  I know I'm supposed to pray more.  So what do I do?  I read about praying more.  I know I'm supposed to trust.  What do I do?  I worry about how I'm going to be able to trust.  I know I'm supposed to be still.  So what do I do?  I THINK ABOUT being still.  That's not BEING STILL!  All of these things are ME...trying to do God's job, trying to fill the hole, trying to FIX whatever it is that needs God's help the most.  I have failed at learning how to just be.  I have spent more time thinking about praying than praying.  I have let the enemy have a foothold over this family by doing so.

The perfect example is KNOWING that God is trying to teach me this.  So what do I do?  I thought long and hard....several days worth of long and hard.  I thought about asking Him to teach me to pray.  Now that's a big deal, that's a scary request because I KNOW He will answer those words.  So I've stood back and timidly wondered what events He would bring into our lives if I uttered those words to Him.

So silly, the way our human, fleshly, worldly minds work!  At least mine anyway!  Like God doesn't really have all of this figured out already!  I'm sure He gets a kick out of me when it comes to stuff like this!  He's here, just waiting to bless us, already taking me down the road of this lesson, showering me in His grace, and probably slightly entertained at the fact that I think that I, little ol' me, can affect or prevent some of the plans He has for us by not letting these few words slip from my mouth.  Oh how patient He has to be to love a child like me!

And then I realized.  Life IS happening, all around me.  My children are growing and learning daily in a world I'm preparing them to stand for Christ in.  My husband and I love and grow and stumble through things that may be easier navigated with prayer.  A friend's Mom lay in the hospital tonight as her family tries to cherish their last moments together.  We are fighting for a child we love, trying to protect her from the person whose supposed to protect her the most.  WE ARE IN NEED of a PRAYERFUL MAMA.  An armed Mom, wife, and friend.  One whose not blind to the distractions the enemy has laid out to keep me from fighting the battle our Lord has called me to fight.  The directions and the keys have been layed out clearly, the battle even described.  I KNOW this, I've studied this and continue to do so.

Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might.  Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.  For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.  Wherefore take unto you the whole armor of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.  Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness;  And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace; Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked.  And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God; Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints;
Ephesians 6:10-18
So I did what I do best.  Knowing I need to be stronger in being PRAYERFUL and FAITHFUL in doing so, I had to study first.  I suppose that just how I work.  In doing so, I did find some pieces to encourage me where I lack....

Speaking of a demon his disciples were unable to cure a man of because of little faith, Jesus says,

Howbeit this kind goeth not out but by prayer and fasting.  Matthew 17:21
Aha....that's making some sense.  I believe those unanswered prayers may be unanswered because I haven't truly given of myself to them in prayer.  Okay, we're getting somewhere.

If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you.  John 15:7

Lord, I know Your words live in me!  And perhaps you abiding in me is perfected in finding that level of prayer where I can just be still in your presence.  I do believe there's something to that, all according to Your will, not my own.
Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you, and ordained you, that ye should go and bring forth fruit, and that your fruit should remain; that whatsoever ye shall ask of the Father in my name, he may give it you.  John 15:16

 We are chosen, we are appointed to these tasks.  And more than once, these tasks include the asking.
And she was a widow of about fourscore and four years, which departed not from the temple, but served God with fasting and prayers night and day.  Luke 2:37
Wait a minute.  SERVE God with prayer?  I've prayed with obedience, love, praise, and pain.  But I'm not sure I've ever prayed to SERVE Him!  Is that what He's been trying to tell me that I'm missing?
And it came to pass in those days, that he went out into a mountain to pray, and continued all night in prayer to God.  Luke 6:12

That would be Jesus He's talking about.  Jesus.  Savior.  HE prayed, went up a mountain and prayed ALL NIGHT.  So there is my example.  Step away, pray, and pray some more.

So like I do best, I continued to ponder this some more.  I was taking a Bible to a family member (I do have many who relate to our life also) and just so happened to stumble across the greatest message of them all.  I thank God for really bringing it home, and when I wasn't even looking for an answer.  It included a scripture I love, quote, and apply to life almost daily.  But the answer has been hiding, surrounding the words I've been so familiar with.  And here it is....

For thus saith the Lord, that after seventy years be accomplished at Babylon I will visit you, and perform my good word toward you, in causing you to return to this place.  For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the Lord, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end.  Then shall ye call upon me and ye shall go and pray unto me , and I will hearken unto you.  And ye shall seek me, and find me, when ye shall search for me with all your heart.  And I will be found of you, saith the Lord: and I will turn away your captivity, and I will gather your from all the nations, and from all the places whither I have driven you, saith the Lord; and I will bring you again into the place whence I caused you to be carried away captive.  Jeremiah 29:10-14
 I've known the promise.  Tonight I see more.  There may be a time and a season that needs to be accomplished for me to see a promise come to light.  And it will, I know it will, and I cling to His word.  And tonight I see the rest of His words.  I shall call upon Him and GO and PRAY unto Him, and He will hearken unto me.  I shall seek Him and I will find Him when I search with all of my heart. 

So tonight before I sat down to write, I uttered those six words, covered by and filled with a huge step of trust and faith to our most deserving God....

Lord, Please Teach Me To Pray
Where He has called, I will go.  And where He has promised, He will be glorified!  My heart hungers for you Lord, to find this place, and to serve you in love with prayer. 

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