The following post was intended to go up Tuesday. Unfortunately, personal events took precedence and I decided I would re-post this one a little later.
Last Tuesday I wrote about feeling like maybe I should spend more time in prayer. Wednesday I found an old journal in which the last entry stated maybe I should spend more time in prayer. Thursday my friend Adam provided a post (quite independently of me) in which he suggested maybe I should spend more time in prayer. Ever feel like the Almighty is trying to make a point?
When I originally created this blog, the idea behind it was that I would attempt various practices, some blatantly spiritual, others not so much, and attempt to discover God inside of them. I didn’t make it terribly far before I began to see him shining through the cracks in my life, at which point the blog’s main intent became providing me a space to work stuff out as I needed. Despite that, the original idea has always stuck with me. I think I would really enjoy following through with my original intent, albeit in less of a clinical manner than I had planned. All of that to say that this past weekend I decided I would do a little God hunting. It seems God is recommending I spend more time in prayer, so I figured I would give it a shot.
Because I know me, I know the biggest obstacle I have to cross to begin any kind of new habit is my own inertia. If I haven’t done something for a long time, it’s way too easy for me to continue not doing something. To that end, I decided that perhaps technology might be able to lend me an assist. After scouring the Android Marketplace for a couple days I discovered two apps that I felt could help keep me accountable. I did a little write up of them here if you’re interested. (tl;dr: One of them is an app that allows you to type in prayers and it pops up throughout the day to remind you to pray for them, the other is a Bible that has various features and reading plans built in.)
Friday rolled around, and the Prayer Popper app did it’s job. I didn’t bother writing any actual requests, just a note that says “Say hello to God.” Every time my phone went off with the reminder, I realized that I was a little uncomfortable actually praying. When I got in the van to head home, I finally decided I was going to just make myself do it. I was going to have a conversation with God, regardless of whether or not I looked like a crazy person leisurely chatting away with myself in an empty vehicle.
About eight seconds in, I realized that the ability to pray eloquently is apparently a diminishing trait. Back in the day I could weave a prayer that was real and honest and beautiful totally on the fly. Instead, it came out with all the charisma of a fat kid asking the popular girl to a dance after his friends goaded him into it. I didn’t set any limits, I figured I’d just keep going until my self-esteem cried “Uncle!” I really figured that by the time I hit the interstate I’d be running dry, but then something funny happened… I didn’t. I made it about three minutes away from home before I felt like I had ran out of things to say.
Later that night I started an “Essential Jesus” reading plan in the Bible app and started following it with The Message. Afterwards I sat for a few moments and pulled out a journal and started writing. (I have so many journals spread across the apartment I’m not sure if it’s possible to be further than arms reach of at least one at any given time.) Good writing. Like, the kind of writing I used to do; the kind that was fraught with big ideas and potential blog posts.
Saturday I did the same. Sunday too. In fact, I found myself wondering why it is that I ever stopped doing these things, and then it hit me… Ever since the Great Silence, when God seemingly disappeared for a while, I’ve been terrified that He would do it again. Despite the fact that for over a year things have been better, I think I’ve been trying to protect myself by keeping expectations low. If I don’t try, if I keep my eyes closed and my fingers in my ears, I won’t notice if God decides to slip out the back door.
Enough time has gone by that I can look at the years in which I felt abandoned and more or less assume that it was probably based more in my head than on fact. But that doesn’t change the fact that I’m absolutely terrified of finding myself in a place that dark again. My relationship with God is such a big piece of my identity that if that part falls into question the bedrock of my life starts to feel more and more like sand. Keeping things quiet, keeping my expectations low, was a way to manage the looming threat of His absence. I’m starting to see that more is being asked of me… Not even necessarily by God, but by the part of me that cries out for him.
God never promised us safety. He never guarantees that we won’t reach the finish line covered in scars and the psychological blow back of things that have gone awry. But he does promise us authenticity. There’s a promise of a kind of fulfillment that I’ve been hiding from because the risks seemed too daunting. Maybe it’s time to stop running. The quote from “The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe” that everyone loves is going through my head. It seems a fitting place to end things:
Mr. Tumnus: “Don’t worry. We’ll see him again.”
Mr. Tumnus: “In time. One day he’ll be here and the next he won’t. But you must not press him. After all, he’s not a tame lion.” Lucy: “No… but he is good.”