Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Torn Between Two Lovers

Courtesy Mad Penguin Creat
Her efforts at teaching me the fine art of hand tying bows would, in the end, be for naught. Her hands created a masterpiece every few minutes. My efforts came in stops and starts. Her bows were uniform and masterful. Mine were.....quickly unraveled so that I could try again. And again. And...I pretty much gave up by the 3rd attempt.

Conversation flowed as furiously as the fluid motion of her fingers. We were like butterflies flitting around in a garden of conversation as we touched lightly upon first one topic and then another. Until, that is, I stumbled upon a trap I didn't see coming.

I don't recall the specific concern to which I referred just that I was praying for something specific. Her gaze had remained steadfastly locked on her work until that moment. The motion ceased. I looked up to see if someone had thrown a wrench in her gears because of the abrupt end to her labor.

Courtesy Mad Penguin Creative
She stared me down with a perplexed and troubled look. In the age old manner that teachers speak to errant children, she said, “Prayer doesn't change things. Don't you changes people. Prayer changes the one who prays..not the circumstances for which we pray.”

Thus it was I became aware of yet another issue that divides the spiritual hearts of men who name the name of Christ as Savior. I was into my 3rd decade of life and had been inhabiting the halls of Christendom since my 3rd day of life. How had I not gotten such an important memo?

Being as how I'm not a theologian and all, that great divide still makes my head hurt. Especially here in the buckle of what we Americans call the Bible Belt where there is a church on every street corner, prayer has been elevated to an art form. There are probably a bazillion books on how and what to pray. You can pay big money to go to conferences on prayer if you are so inclined.

Courtesy Mad Penguin Creative
Imma tell you the truth, with all the experts on TV, in the bookstore, and in the pulpit to tell me about prayer, I still struggle with that conversation of 20+ years ago. My family would tell you that I pray. A lot. In our homeless days, if our wheels were rolling, I was praying. I haven't changed much in the last 6 years in that regard. And yet, I still find myself wondering, “If prayer doesn't have any effect on my circumstance, why pray?”

Frankly speaking, there are days I don't wanna change anymore. I've been thru enough life changing circumstances in the last decade. I'd like to stay the same for a while and let circumstances change. Know what I mean? Especially this week. We've faced some stuff this week. Things that have left me awake in the night as I agonized with God over what to do and how to react.

Courtesy Mad Penguin Creative
I found myself thinking, “I really, really want to see God act on our behalf in a way that my sons will see their God as a God of action who intervenes on behalf of his children. It's fine and dandy if he uses the circumstances of life to grow our faith, but can't he do so by affecting the circumstances too?” Is that too much to ask after all we've been through?

I am torn between 2 lovers and both are named prayer. I do not know how to reconcile this thing we were called to do when Jesus taught his disciples how to pray. I can understand that as we pray, a Holy God can perfect our prayers and prepare us for the outcome he knows is on the path ahead of us. As we pray, he changes our hearts. Our actions and desires follow. I get it. It ain't rocket science.

I am the fraidy cat daughter of Abraham, tho. In my humanness, I also have a longing need to see a chain of events that lets me know God heard my prayer. I long to see circumstances evolve in a way that allows me to connect those dots as well. Don't tell me about how the Children of Israel had all that and still doubted. I got that memo in Sunday School. I'm looking for a deeper answer than that.

Courtesy Mad Penguin Creative
Earlier this week, my husband turned to me and said, “I am afraid.” It is not a comment he makes often. So, you take notice when he does. He said, “God did not protect me when I was young and could not protect myself. He stood by and let what happened happen. He stood by when I was sick and let us lose our home. How do I know I can trust him now?” I had no answer, but I understood the question.

Somedays, I feel like a length of ribbon. My lovingly hand-tied prayers are awkward and uneven. They unravel only to be reconstructed in hopes they will come together with craftsman-like perfection. Unlike my foray into ribbon tying, I'm still trying 20 years later. How 'bout you?

                                                        Hebrews 4:16
Courtesy B. Creays
Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.

Romans 8:26 
(International Standard Version)
In the same way, the Spirit also helps us in our weakness, since we do not know how to pray as we should. But the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans too deep for words,


  1. Thanks, this brought back a great memory. My boys and I were camping when they were young. We were the only campers in a remote camp ground. While packing up the car the keys were inadvertently locked in the trunk. This was a bad thing. I gathered the boys and we prayed. The very moment we said Amen, a van pulled in the camp ground. You will be happy to hear there were South Carolina plates on the vehicle. The men in the van had camped there TWENTY YEARS AGO, and just happened to stop by for nostalgia's sake. They also just happened to be auto body repair guys. In a flash they had the back seat of our car out so my youngest could wriggle in to find the keys.

    Prayer changes me, yes. I'd also have to say I'm a big believer in prayer changing THINGS as well.

  2. It's the great perplexing question, isn't it? Where is God? How is it that a God of Mercy bears witness to suffering, even to unspeakable evil, but does not intercede to stop it? To me, this is the greatest challenge for our faith. I cannot find an easy, "feel-good" answer.

  3. I fear there is not one and that trust in that one issue alone is the greatest leap of faith we are called to make as Christ-followers. 2nd only to obedience in tithing. OUCH!

  4. Don, I've come to that same conclusion. The mystery that remains is how, when, why does he choose between the 2!

  5. We'll never know this side of Heaven.