“If you believe, you will receive whatever you ask for in prayer.”
I’m a firm believer in it’s what grows us. Is it pleasant? No. It’s quite awful. Growing is often painful stuff…
I’m one of those stick it out-ers. Wade through the muck-ers. “I’ve been through worse” kind of people. My God is bigger. There are billions of people going through far worse than you at this very moment, Ang. I tell myself a lot of things. And then I pray. I’m always praying. It’s like breathing for me. It’s how I inhale. It’s how I exhale. It’s how I stay alive, how I move, how I rest, how I love. But how do you pray when the being you’re struggling with is God?
Now I’ve been through some rough junk in my life (I am trying really hard to refrain from swearing — I’m told it offends people, and I know God doesn’t like it either. It’s one of my many sins). Seriously terrible things. And in all of those dark hours and years upon years and heaps upon heaps of betrayals and darkness that seemed would never end, I never doubted my creator. Not once. Yes, there were times I wanted to die — honestly, yes. I just wanted to be with him and be gone from here. So.very.yes. But I never doubted him and his love for me. Not ever. Not once. I even got to a place where I could completely forgive. And I could thank him. Because for all the broken and raw those experiences made me — they also made me so very close to him — and they made me real, always real — and always thankful and aware of grace. And my heart is always open — which is more painful than not — but I’m here to love and live for others, not myself. Never myself. Because I don’t want anyone, ever, to feel those things I did — to not have a single person speak up for them — and to later be manipulated or used by people who find them easy prey — be it men or women. God uses our pain to make us brave. To make us kind. To make us love more than we ever thought possible. He shatters us and breaks us so wide open, we become so empty of ourselves and so full of him. He doesn’t cause all of that evil to happen to us. We live in a sinful world. But he covers us with grace. He holds us, and he shows us a love like no other. He is the love we never got, so that we can be the love that others need to know too. So that we can point them to his amazing grace and love. That’s a holy miracle, isn’t it? We are holy miracles, loves, and never let anyone tell you different…
and dammit, (sorry)
I started doubting that…
because of world events
because of things happening in my extended family
because the devil is who he is
because I am who I am
but God is who he is, so we dug in together like we always do (I cleave, people – smile)…
God didn’t mind my questions. He’s used to my mind being all over the place. He created it after all. He’s used to me scrounging the Bible for “all the answers”, walking the bike trail and praying and listening for him, always listening in the quiet for him. We’re pretty close. But my heart was broken. And he knew this. Who was this God of the Old Testament, the God of hate that kept spewing forth from so many Christians in the media attacking anything they feared and didn’t understand, my biological father’s God whose voice was filling up my nightmares once again justifying all the wrongs done to me, reliving all of those evils in the name of Jesus. How does one pray?
Non stop. Heart wide open. Humbly. Earnestly. Relentlessly. Asking for answers, if you are willing, Lord. And if not answers, peace. That I may know and find peace again. But that I may have some sense of resolution, God, please, if that is your will. But I understand that faith isn’t knowing and understanding everything. And if I must sit here and wait, please give peace and balm to my soul. Crying. Pleading. Not giving up. Because I know God can. Because I know God is able. Because I know God will.
Waiting is hard for me. I’ve had to do it so often. It is a lesson I know well. This waiting thing. This be patient thing. I’m called upon to do it again and again and again (you’d think I’d be AMAZING at it by now). God always comes through. Always. Often in ways more miraculous than I ever imagined. And in this case, it was no different…
I received a book in the mail a few days ago that began this peace journey, this ‘seeing the Bible in a whole new way’ journey — this ‘why oh why in the world have I missed the enormous fantastical miracle and life transforming forever and ever praise of that verse’ journey? The book (like, you have to get this — please, this is so much more than a must read — spirit breathed…) is “Out Of Sorts — Making Peace with an Evolving Faith” by my Sarah — Sarah Bessey — forward by my other sister, Jen Hatmaker. Please pick it up and let it bless you. Men, pick it up and let it bless you. Churches, pick it up and let it bless your entire congregation — especially pastors and ministers — of which we all are to our living faith in our savior.
The verse that began it all for me was found in the disciple I relate to most (dare I say love the most?) in the Bible, my dear John (smile). He wrote, “For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.” John 1: 17 It washed over me. The law was given through Moses — that Mosaic law of do’s and do nots and ‘you’ll never be worthy ofs’ — but grace — and even bolder than that, my friends — TRUTH (you read correctly, truth, glorious TRUTH) — came through Jesus Christ. Grace and truth. I’ll hold on to those with my Jesus. Go ahead and read it again. And spend a little time with John. If you ever doubt that men can express love or feeling, spend a little time with John…
I’m not going to make this long as my boys need me. This girl has spent so much time in her head and in her Bible. They need their momma. I read all of Galatians this morning. Let’s just say that Paul is not my go to guy when it comes to the disciples — because I find him to be too much like me (smile). He’s a hot head. He’s reactionary. He gets frustrated and angry and isn’t often the most patient of writers. But Galatians, it’s my freedom song. And in it, Sarah reminded me of this amazing treasure that Paul writes — “There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” Galatians 3:28 You are ALL ONE in Christ. Dear Lord, I hear you loud and clear. And what a shattering turn your world upside down verse that had to be!!! Thank you, Paul. Thank you, Lord, and thank you Sarah for reminding me of the way that Jesus sees us, truly sees us. Not as the world’s cultural dynamic of the time tries to define or sees us, not as the church often sees us, not as I may sometimes see myself. But as Jesus sees us. We are all one.
Sarah goes into greater detail and speaks to other issues that weighed so heavily on my heart. I encourage you to take a read — and take your Bible with you. And remember that Jesus asks us to have faith like a child. Sarah reminded me of this too. And what do children do? They ask a bazillion questions (smile). Forever and ever. And that’s okay. It’s really and forever okay. God uses them to grow us. We need to be asking. It’s a relationship. It’s active. It’s a back and forth conversation. It’s not stagnant. If you’re hearts pulling — ask. Pray.
This is the realest relationship I have and know. Because it’s the realtionship that teaches me how to be in all others. It’s the relationship that teaches me how to love, how to minister, how to listen, how to forgive, how to ask to be forgiven, and how to give all that I am. It’s a living and growing and changing thing. It’s not ancient, lost in traditions long gone and dead with an Israel that was. No, it’s very much alive in a Christ that is, in a Holy Spirit that is alive and well in me — challenging me, asking me to be brave and to be more than I was yesterday.
One thing I can always be certain of is my Savior’s love for me. And although I will never, ever fully know him or the depths of his love for me — I will wake up every single morning trying — attempting to understand and fully love the God-man that does fully understand this heart that beats solely for him. And isn’t it absolutely wonderful to be fully known? To be seen? That is an incredible treasure to me. I hold that so dear.
Peace to you, in the midst of ever walking with and loving a God who will never let us go — even when we struggle for understanding, he understands us. Love to you all. I’ll leave you with some words from “Out Of Sorts”. Take care, dear hearts… ❤
“I hope we all wrestle. I hope we look deep into our hearts and sift through our theology, our methodology, our praxis, our ecclesiology, all of it. I hope we get angry and we say true things. I hope we push back against celebrity and consumerism; I hope we live into our birthright as prophetic outpost for the Kingdom. I hope we get our toes stepped on and then forgive. I hope we become open-hearted and open-armed. I hope we are known as the ones who love.
I hope we change. I hope we grow. I hope we push against the darkness and let the light in and breathe into the Kingdom come. I hope we become a refuge for the weary and the pilgrim, for the child and the aged, for the ones who have been strong too long. And I hope we all live like we are loved.
I hope we all become a bit more inclined to listen, to pray, to wait.”
Out Of Sorts, Sarah Bessey (96,97)