Thursday, August 15, 2013

Pray About EVERYTHING (Thing I'd like to tell my younger self #3)

The other day my friend's son was kidnapped.  They 'serve' in South America and while I've never met her face to face, through the wonders of modern communication, I know her pretty well.  We've been part of a small group of Internationals that have supported each other for over ten years.  And I have actually talked to her over Skype before!  I've seen this son, her youngest, grow from a little guy into the mischievous-eyed twelve-year-old he is today.

It felt like being kicked in the gut to hear her news.  Not only for her son, but she had been held at first herself for a while before she was released and then her son was kept behind.

What a thing for a mother to bear!  I prayed with a heavy heart.  And honestly?  I worried.

I was oh-so-concerned for them, yet this trial of theirs struck awfully close to home as well.  All of us in that international group knows what it's like to take our children out of the 'safety' of the First World and into something a bit more precarious.  While kidnapping has never been something at the top of my list of concerns, the physical safety of my children in a less safe environment (and not just germs!) has often been a constant niggle in the back of my mind.  Mine has been more just loosing kids in general.

I remembered our first New Year's Eve in our Third World home.  The kids and I met up with Steve, who had come by motorbike from somewhere else, at a KFC (big treat there!) on a popular road.  Being newbies we totally underestimated the crowds that would be out already celebrating at an early hour and as Steve drove off home, I headed to the Metro with the kids. As we rounded the corner to head underground we were met by an even thicker mass of humanity, some trying to come up while others were going down. It was a free-for-all in the dimly lit night, totally devoid of the politeness expected in the West, and I felt six-year-old Adam wrenched behind me in the crush and began to loose my grip on his hand.  I couldn't even see him in the mass of bodies and knew if I lost his hand I might not ever see him again.....

I woke up yesterday morning to the news that there was no news.  My friend had been left restlessly wondering for more than a full day by then.  But miraculously only a couple of hours later her son was freed!  The kidnapper, obviously not a professional, had let him go.

I cried happy tears for her, very much rejoicing and praising in the outcome, but then felt the need to 'recover' and lick my own wounds a bit after the ordeal as well.  Why, I wondered?

It made me wonder about the quality of trust in my prayers in this situation.  If something that hit a nerve in my heart shook me and made me anxious as I prayed, what had my prayers really been like?  Sure, God heard them regardless, but I hadn't succeeded in, "Be(ing) anxious for nothing."

I recently read a blog written by an author named Gari Meacham.  She said:

"The spirit hunger within me longs to trust, but I masquerade instead.  I pretend pray--realizing that what I think is prayer, is really worry with a few God words at the beginning and end:

'Dear Father, worry, worry, worry, worry....In Jesus' name. Amen'

What I often whisper as prayer is a sliver of faith wrapped in a blanket of panic.  
Worry restates negative trust in fearful outcomes.  
It's the belief that what I dread will be the outcome of what I pray."

Because the truth is that what we fear COULD be the outcome.  My friend's son may not have ever come home.  There could be a time where something happens to my own children's safety as well. But we serve a God who loves us.  Truly, deeply, and forever. And he's promised that we are fully 'under the shadow of His wings.'  Safe and secure in His plans that are frequently beyond what we can understand, but full of purpose and care.

That kind of faith is present in this prayer:

(by Ignatius)

Take, Lord, and receive all my liberty, my memory, my understanding, and my entire will,
All I have and call my own you have given to me.
To you, Lord, I return it.
Everything is yours; do with it what you will.
Give me only your love and your grace, 
That is enough for me.

My friend Fran Francis wrote about these words, "The secret of Ignatius' carefree abandonment of all that he is and has comes down to knowing that he is loved."

To trust, we need to understand how deeply we are loved.

As I waited yesterday wondering about my friend's child I remembered another blog I'd read recently:

"Even if He doesn't (answer our prayers the way we want), He still is.

Even if he doesn't do what we will, His will is still right and His heart is still good and the people of God will not waver.

Real prayer has eyes on Christ, not the crisis.

Even if He doesn't--He does give enough--Himself.

Even is He doesn't--He does still love us.
                                 -Ann Voskamp

I'm so glad that 'He did' in the life of my friend!!!  But the situation has made me realize that it's time to re-learn yet again something I've been working on afresh for a while now:

Pray about EVERYTHING!

Philippians 4 says, "Don't worry about ANYTHING, instead pray about EVERYTHING.  Tell God what you need and thank him for all he has done."  Then it promises peace that exceeds anything we can understand. Peace that will guard our hearts.

Do we really do that?

The minute we find our minds beginning to churn---Pray!
The moment we realize we're stressed---Pray!
When we're worried, afraid, confused---Pray!
When we're joyful and thankful---Pray!

The first blog I mention above loosely quotes Oswald Chambers as saying, "It's not only wrong to worry, it's infidelity.  Because worrying means we don't think God can look after the practical details of our lives...."

Convicting words.  Being faithful to my husband is monumentally important to me.  How could being faithful to my First Love be anything less?

Walking through trials in peace sounds idealistic.  Unrealistic.  But giving Him our anxiety by placing it in His loving hands is a process that brings us closer to Him and helps us better understand His love.  And His love never fails!

My friend is slowly telling the kidnapping story here. Click on to read!