Staying in the story

A book I’ve been reading, A Praying Life, uses the concept of story to paint how God chooses to answer or not answer our prayers.

Many times we get discouraged by unanswered prayer – but if we take a wide angle view, we begin to understand that God is weaving His story into our lives… if we let Him. Each day we have the choice to join the BIG story of God saving the world and us along with it – or to put blinders on and just survive the day. If you’re anything like me (and let’s hope you’re not) I jump in and out of the story throughout the day.

I typically start the day in a stupor – feebly asking for help to get through the day – and then carpool begins, and then my real challenge begins… Kate. I’m homeschooling Kate this year because she’s been neglected since Anne’s accident – and it shows. Every day is different – except for the tears. I think one of us has cried every day since school started… except for last Thursday – and that’s just because she was gone on a field trip all day.

Kate’s stubborn and angry heart is like hitting a wall – which leads me to pray. There is no way I can change her heart – that can only be done by God. And then other times, the same wall that causes me to pray – makes me frustrated and angry, and I feel like screaming (which I have done a few times). So, I’m jumping in and out of the story – I jump in – and admit my helplessness and beg God to give me wisdom.. and patience. I need lots of patience… and then I jump out and fail miserably – which leads me to jump back in and ask God for forgiveness and help.

The good news is that God is gracious – and during this time of wrestling with both Kate’s and my own heart, He is patient and waiting for me to turn to Him. I find when I start the day admitting my desperate need to shepherd Kate and begging Him to give her a soft, teachable heart – well sometimes, Kate is her old, sweet self again, delightful, joyful and fun. And other times, she is hard, but we are able to work through the stubbornness and find submission. God is there, waiting to help me.

A little consistency would be nice. I need help staying in the story.

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Life in the desert

I’ve been struggling lately.

Writing takes effort to connect with what God is doing in our lives. Sometimes, I don’t see His hand, and that is discouraging to me.

In an effort to find God, I started reading the book, A Praying Life, by Paul E. Miller. It’s been a while since a book has so deeply impacted me. This is mainly because Paul uses vignettes from his own family to illustrate his points, and he has a special needs daughter.

He’s put words to my longings. I now know I’m living in the desert. According to Miller, the desert is a place where there is a great divide between hope and reality. In my case, there is a great divide between my hope for Anne’s healing and the reality of Anne’s disability. And to add to the suffering, you have no idea how long you will be in the desert.

I’ve also learned that God can be close and intimate in the desert. I have experienced this. But typically, God remains on the edge, distant and elusive…  Paul Miller says God stays on the edge in order to increase your faith. I get that. God has definitely been on the edge of my life lately, and it has been difficult to persevere in pursuing God. In other words, my faith needs a lot of increasing ;-)

When God seems silent and our prayers go unanswered, the over-whelming temptation is to leave the story – to walk out of the desert and attempt to create a normal life. But when we persist in a spiritual vacuum, when we hang in there during ambiguity, we get to know God (Miller, pg 192).

When we suffer, we long for God to speak clearly, to tell us the end of the story and, most of all, to show himself. But if he showed himself fully and immediately, if he answered all the questions, we’d never grow… No one works like Him. He is such a lover of souls (Miller, pg 193-194).

I am tempted to leave the story every day. Because frankly, Jesus’ demands on my life are painful. So I am left with a choice, the same choice that Jesus gave his disciples in John 6…

…many of his disciples turned back and no longer walked with him. So Jesus said to the Twelve, “Do you want to go away as well?” Simon Peter answered him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life, and we have believed, and have come to know, that you are the Holy One of God” (John 6:66-69).

Everyday, when I am tempted to live life apart from God, I echo the words of Peter… Lord, to whom shall I go? You have the words of eternal life, and I have believed, and I know that you are the Holy One of God.

But it doesn’t make the journey any easier…