So today I’m turning to a piece of scripture that has been referenced at length by a dear friend who has gone before us, and always has a profound impact.
Phil 4:6 Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.
(Sorry John, you’ve only gone on to Ohio but it seems far enough away and sounds pretty heavenly where you’re at!)
Last night was a challenging night around our home. Both girls were, in my terms, blowing through stop signs. They weren’t listening, they were doing what they wanted, making their own rules and being defiantly disobedient. The kind of disobedience that empowered them to look us in our eyes as they were doing something we asked them not to do. A look that acknowledged their willfulness without even the slightest hint of remorse. Both Holly and I kept our cool for as long as we could, but it wasn’t the kind of end to the weekend you draft up. Bedtime was chaotic, and the calm-down process lasted roughly an hour before they finally gave in and fell asleep. Going to bed last night I had this feeling that it was not going be a restful night of sleep for us, yet I prayed over the week ahead and gave thanks for what God has given us and entrusted us with.
Around midnight the wee one began talking up a storm, some yelling and just general unrest as I could tell through the monitor. I walked in, helped to re-situate her and calm her down. I accomplished neither in those efforts. She was once again mad at me, and let her feelings be known unfiltered. I did what I could to soothe her, got her some water and then prayed over her. “God thank you for this little girl. Please help her get some rest, bring her some peace so she can all wake up refreshed. So we all can get some sleep.”
I walked away feeling like I did all I could, but not feeling settled or even convinced that this would be the last time I heard from her over the course of the night. I almost felt like my prayer was self-serving, and kind of wanted a do-over. Five-hours later my alarm went off. Despite my efforts, despite the feelings I had about my prayer… Call it prayer-anxiety, God showed up. He knows what I need before I ask for it. He knows what I want even if I don’t ask for it or when I ask for it in a way that seems unfit for a heavenly petition. In finance it’s called the *confirmation bias*. “The tendency to search for, interpret, favor and recall certain information in a way that confirms one’s preexisting beliefs or hypotheses.” My own tendencies are generally not 100% accurate, and last night was a reminder of that.
Romans 8: 26-27 “In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans. And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for God’s people in accordance with the will of God.”
After midnight wordless groans are about all I’m capable of but praise God I don’t have to do anything perfectly! The God I have come to know, is one that is constantly reminding me that He’s got this. He’s holding me in the palm of His hand. He knows my heart, He knows my needs and He knows who I am. He hears my prayers whether they’re shouted, whispered or thought. He accepts me, He accepts all of me as I am. He knows I’m broken, and He doesn’t rebuke or forsake me because of that. He loves me in spite of those things and maybe even loves me a little extra because of those things. Every day (or night), is an opportunity for me to strip myself down, and filter out my own ideas or my own biases.
I’m grateful to be a work in progress, and I’m eternally grateful for a God that is with me through every season. He can handle my joy and praise as well as my sadness and anger. God doesn’t stop listening to me, even though at times for me it feels like He’s stopped hearing me. Sometimes I can’t see the answers to my prayers because I’m focused on the outcome I wanted and prayed for. It’s natural for most of us, or certainly for me anyway to begin to get angry or feel unloved when my prayers aren’t answered the way I want them to be. My challenge, and the challenge for all of us is to stay the course and to not lose hope but to persevere. Understanding God and our lives here is like trying to put together a puzzle without a picture to work from.
Then there are times that prayers are answered exactly the way they’re made, like they were for me last night.
“Being heard is so close to being loved that for the average person, they are almost indistinguishable.” -David Augsburger
When I woke up this morning to my alarm, realizing that my prayer was answered I felt heard and incredibly loved. Once again, God showed up the way He always does. Not only did we all get some much needed sleep, but all the anxiety and all the *lawlessness* was replaced with an overwhelming peace and joy that radiated outwards. I’ll be praying for each of you that you can be heard and feel loved, remember that you were made by a God that adores you. As Bob Goff says, *He’s crazy about you, He’s got your picture in His wallet.* How’s that for a visual?