Things are good around here. Ali is marching her way through kindergarten and absolutely yelling at me for not getting her 3rd and 4th installments of Ali's Art World online yet... LOL. Fire that guy, I tell ya! Julian is still the sweetest thing around. Seems like he's biting himself more often and leaving marks! Teething, anyone? Good times. He's trying to figure out the crawling thing... take your time, buddy... take your time.
This Saturday, Angelique and I are preaching at our church. We are sharing our story of faith. We are so honored to have this opportunity! We spent a lot of time yesterday brainstorming how to put all of THIS into 15 minutes! LOL. First off, I shouldn't even open my mouth if we want to keep that brief! LOL. Seriously, though, it is challenging to take our journey and re-tell the story in the specified time we get to the specified audience. It's not like we have one stock story we tell the same way every time. We really labor with it to make sure that we are reaching the audience we are in front of each and every time.
While we were talking about the different pillars of the talk, prayer really rose to the top. Many of you have read my posts on prayer and faith before, so some of this may not sound new to you, but humor me... this is partially me working out my thoughts, but at the end, I'd REALLY like to hear from you on your own thoughts on the subject... we ARE a community, and I LOVE hearing about YOU, and I know that you enjoy hearing from each other as well.
Today, I had a patient in the infusion center that I treated as an inpatient over the Christmas holiday. When I saw her then, the chaplain specifically wanted to me to work with her husband as she knew our journey with Bella and figured I could help him out with the struggles - particularly in faith - that he is having. How generous is that? This is the chaplain referring me for spiritual care! I love my team at work.
Anyway, just as I was about to leave today, he started to open up to me. I got the hint that he really needed to talk, so I stayed. He just poured out his anger and frustration with God. He's mad because he feels like God hasn't answered his prayers this time, and because he doesn't understand why God is letting his wife deteriorate, he's questioning his faith.
Can anyone else relate to that line of thinking at all? It's incredibly honest, and even a little understandable...
...when you have accidentally tried to relate faith and understanding.
we figured out that his fundamental flaws were that he:
1. thought he could or should be able to understand God's will all the time, and
2. that he has tied his faith to that position.
The thinking went like, "I've prayed many times before, and (I thought) God answered my prayers. Why won't he this time? Maybe there's no one there after all."
For me, faith is not related in any way to understanding. That's what makes it distinctly faith, and not knowledge. I don't think I have the capacity to understand the enormity of God's plan as this tiny human I am.
I used to think I did.
Ah, the arrogance of youth.
I'm now at a point where I see that faith is related to trust, not understanding. For me, it's like this... "God, I don't know if I'll ever have the capacity to understand what you understand, but you know what? I'm stickin' with you, no matter WHAT the view looks like from down here. No matter what, I TRUST that from where you sit, you are orchestrating a perfect story, and allowing perfection in all things. I just can't see it from down here. But you know what? I don't really need to. You got me, I trust you. I'm IN."
However, I am still back to square one over prayer... prayer as petition... not conversation and communion. Growing up, prayer first was obligatory praise and attention I had to give or I was going to hell.
That was a drag. I didn't like that so much.
Then, prayer became a wish list.
Then, I got enlightened, and prayer became a gratitude list.
Then, when Bella was born, some well meaning supporters encouraged me to "pray for that miracle of healing." I wasn't planning on it, but it was too seductive to resist. Maybe, just maybe, if I either prayed hard enough, long enough, and "the RIGHT way," Bella would be healed of EB.
Then, prayer became me watching for signs that God was there.
Thus the book was written, Bella's Blessings: a Humble Story of Providence.
I thought that because I could observe God's signs, that I knew God's mind.
Nope, that wasn't it, either.
Would someone just let me know how to pray (to get my way) already? I'm tired of playing this game... I want the cheat codes! LOL.
So, here I sit. 39 years old, 30+ years into this praying thing, without a clue about prayer.
I love it.
It has been the most humbling experience of my spiritual journey.
There is so much more to God, prayer, and faith than meets the eye.
Life long learning, eh?