Tag Archives: prayer

God’s Mysterious Goodness Penetrates Darkness…

Just as you cannot understand the path of the wind or the mystery of a tiny baby growing in its mother’s womb, so you cannot understand the activity of God, who does all things. Ecclesiastes 11:5 (NLT)

     The woman who’d scheduled to meet at my church office told me she’d been attending Lake City Church for several months. I love to hear about people’s journeys of faith and invited her to share her story.

     It was one of those soul-stirring stories that leaves me feeling as if I’ve been entrusted with a priceless treasure to hold, even if only for a moment. When I asked permission to pass a portion on to you, promising to protect her privacy, she seemed pleased and agreed graciously. I’m calling my new friend Julia because that’s a favorite name of mine.

     Shaking her head back and forth slowly, Julia said she has always had a difficult time believing in God. “Trusting in what I can’t see just doesn’t make sense.”

     “What keeps you coming back to church?” I inquired.

     That question elicited tears, so I knew her answer was going to be good! She explained an encounter she had a few weeks earlier, saying, “I can only believe it was from God.”

     Julia described herself as a woman with a strong work ethic. Despite horrific news of a much-loved friend’s tragic death, she’d been able to make it through a busy workday.

     Emotionally exhausted after work, she decided to get take-out at a fast-food restaurant. Her emotional pain was indescribable, Julia said. How, she wondered, was she going to process this unexpected, incomprehensible news?

     After ordering her food, Julia uttered what she called a “sort-of prayer.”

     Reaching the pick-up window, the woman working behind the counter told Julia the customers in front of her had paid for her meal. The employee then said,

“Also, they asked me to tell you God loves you very much!”

     By that time, Julia said, the tears, which dampened her cheeks, turned into uncontrollable sobs. The kind employee reached through the pick-up window, took her hands and prayed “a long prayer” right there in that fast-food drive-through lane.

     Bit by bit, my new friend’s heart is being cracked open enough that rays from the light of faith are shining through. Julia is starting to comprehend that even though unseen, God is real, and faith isn’t based solely on logic.

     She wants to start reading her Bible and asked for help in getting started. I gave some suggestions and look forward to walking alongside this woman in her newfound adventure of faith.


     So often, I’ve seen God’s goodness most clearly during life’s darkest hours. Weak, vulnerable, with no idea which way to turn, like Julia, I realize “something I can only believe was from God” helped me navigate the darkness.

     Where are you in your faith journey?

     You may be like me. Even though you often feel like you still have more questions than answers, you believe at the core of your being the message of Christianity. An interior nudge convinces you God is only good and wants nothing but good for every sincere seeker. This assurance enables you to keep taking that next step of faith into the Divine Mystery.

     Others may be more like Julia. Trusting in what cannot be seen or proven doesn’t compute for you. Still, a lingering MAYBE lurks in your private moments of wondering.

     Perhaps a starting point for you may be uttering one of Julia’ssort-of prayers” and see where it leads you.

No matter where you are in your faith journey, I’m applauding you…

Sue Reeve

A Prayer for the Storm…

Sue’s Note: In Monday’s post, I discussed life’s storms. Even as Jesus spoke peace into a terrifying storm his disciples experienced on the Sea of Galilee, I believe Jesus can speak peace into storms you and I face in the 21st Century.

In today’s post, I offer a heartfelt prayer for readers who are weathering a particularly difficult storm. I know most who read this blog are women, but I hope if you’re a guy and this prayer applies, please substitute ‘him’ or ‘his’ for each feminine pronoun.

Lord,

For each friend—whether I’ve met her in person or not—who’s struggling in a storm, I offer this prayer.

First, I want to thank you for people who have prayed for me when I was overwhelmed by life’s circumstances, and my soul wearied with the wrestling.

Please, Lord, speak peace into her storm. May my friend, in your time, see this season of dark desolation as a backdrop to display the jewel of your grace.

Enable my friend’s spirit to catch glimpses of your goodness as she keeps trudging forward. Give her strength to keep placing one faltering foot of faith in front of another.

Enable her knowledge and belief in you to move from her head into her heart. May she feel in the very depths of her being—that secret place only your Spirit can reach—that you not only love her as you love everyone else, but that you cherish her as a unique individual whom you fashioned in your divine image.

Lord, won’t you give my friend the gift of ideas as she sorts imaginatively through the internal clutter. Help her discern well your best plan for future steps.

So often I’ve believed I must be in control. Thank you for the way you’re showing me the freedom that comes when I’m willing to relinquish my firm grasp and allow you to control what I’m not equipped to manage. I pray you would tenderly show my friend how to loosen her grip and place into your trustworthy hands every hope, dream, disappointment and doubt.

One of my favorite photos from our trip to Israel is of fellow traveler, Sarah, praying on the Sea of Galilee. Like Sarah, II often pray with open hands—not because I am pious, but to remind me of my tendency to want to be in control rather than relinquishing my grasp into God’s trustworthy hands.

As she walks in new freedom, I ask you will replace despair with hope. Energize her as she pursues her dreams and uses her gifts. Cover her with the umbrella of your transcendent peace and patience.

Finally, Lord, I pray my personal favorite prayer for my friend and sister-of-the heart:

God, Surprise her!

In the name of the Father, Son and Spirit, I make these requests,

     Amen

Be blessed…

     

Sue Reeve

ANXIETY + PRAYER + THANKSGIVING = PEACE | Part 2

Part 2

     On Wednesday, January 31st, I waited almost 4 hours while Ron underwent serious eye surgery. The final day of January 2018, became what I call Philippians 4:6 & 7 Practice.

Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.  And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. (NIV)

     These words are for me some of the most important ever written. Penned by the Apostle Paul when he was in prison somewhere around 62 AD, these two short verses provide a powerful prayer model that works—especially during stressful times.

     Why is it that a few lines from a letter written almost 2000 years ago—a letter tucked into the back of a book that has been printed some five billion times in the past 200 years[1]–remain relevant to a grandma living in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, in 2018?

     With all my heart, I believe the Bible is God’s idea—God’s way of communicating divine and timeless truth. During my recent season of concern, I’m more convinced than ever the message of Philippians 4:6 & 7 is relevant.

     In the last Listening on the Journey… post (February 5, 2018), we looked at Verse 6. Today, we’ll dive into Verse 7.

     In Verse 6, Paul presents a process for acknowledging, praying about, and giving thanks during times of anxiety. Verse 7 gives the outcome. Paul wrote these words from a place of painful personal experience, and I find something powerful about learning from someone who’s “been there/learned that!”

And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

     Philippians 4:7 peace is soul-serenity, which Paul explains we may not understand but, yet, can fully experience.

     Sometimes, when I’ve practiced this passage of scripture, despite that ‘worry gene,’ which lurks in my DNA, I’m aware of a type of an I-just-don’t-get-it calmness. Philippians 4:7 peace is a feeling, which at times has caused me to worry because I wasn’t worried!

     Before I proceed, though, I must say that even though my words may seem to imply the process of finding peace can be reduced to a formula, in fact, that isn’t true. Generally, I avoid any type of spiritual formula, but as I thought about the title for this post, I was aware of the systematic process Paul presents. I realized I’ve used this process on numerous occasions for many years. Even as Paul’s peace-producing process has helped me and countless others, I hope my experience and words may help someone reading today’s Listening on the Journey… post.

     As I lay awake much of the night following Ron’s surgery, I felt anxious because Ron’s pain was preventing him from resting well. During those sleepless hours, I was reminded once again that the formation of my faith has been a journey—one I believe will continue until I’ve exhaled my last earthly breath.

     Oftentimes, my spirit collides with my humanity. I don’t want to do so, but still I succumb to natural emotional reactions, such as anxiety.

     That’s all right.

     God understands that even though my spirit may be willing, it’s also fragile.

          It’s times like this when I’m humbled by my frailty.

               It’s times like this when I’m able to rest in the strong arms of my Abba Father.

                    It’s times like this when I realize my journey of faith isn’t about perfection—but, it
                    does involve progress.

     As I attempt to become a spiritually mature woman, I find greater success when I’m gentle with myself concerning weaknesses. Gentleness, however, doesn’t mean I can ignore or keep excusing weakness forever. I must also accept my responsibility and make decisions for the way in which I proceed in my journey of faith—even when circumstances are less than lovely or when life has treated me unfairly.

     Passages of scripture such as Philippians 4:6 & 7 provide tools that help me learn and grow. My hope and prayer are that these two short verses will do the same for you.

Blessings on your journey of faith…

Sue Reeve

     P.S. By the way, in case you’re wondering, Ron is progressing well. This morning, I’ll chauffer my husband—hopefully, for the last time in a long while—to his medical appointment. The eye surgeon will remove the 16 stitches (I’m still trying to wrap my brain around that number!) he placed in Ron’s eye eight days ago. Our hope is soon my husband, who has experienced more than a few anxious moments related to his vision, will enjoy pre-teen eyesight!

     For all who’ve prayed for Ron and sent well wishes, THANK YOU!!

  1. http://www.guinnessworldrecords.com/world-records/best-selling-book-of-non-fiction/

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