I remember when I used to pray.
My hands would shake, my jaw would tremble, and I felt the Spirit guide me. I saw hearts healed. Spirits comforted. Bodies made whole. The only thing that felt bigger than my faith was my God. It was the days of God being glorified and knowing that things would work out for our good. It was bold requests. Swift answers. God speaking.
And then it was silent.
There was the miracle baby that they said wouldn’t survive childbirth and kept on living and thriving. And there were nights praying at the hospital. Days spent praying on my face in the nursery and pacing in my home. And the prayers were being answered…..until they weren’t. I heard the phone ring early in the morning and I knew what was on the other end.
Then there was the teen that had been battling cancer.
Then my friend. One who had spent time at my table praying with me. One who left behind two beautiful children.
Then the other friend. The one who sacrificed his time serving God, serving the church.
God felt so quiet. In some ways, He still does.
There’s that part of me that wants to figure it all out. That wants to know why not them? Some will say there was a lack of faith. But I know it wasn’t mine, and it wasn’t theirs. Maybe it’s just that messy part of Kingdom living. That space between the now and the not yet. But even that hurts my heart to think about. I long for the day when there will be no more sickness, no more death. All things will be made new and nothing will distract us from God’s glory shining bright around us.
I don’t want to diminish what God is doing, so for now I hold onto what my mind knows, even though my heart is broken.
I whisper in the quiet of the night, “I do believe, but help me overcome my unbelief” (Mark 9:24, NLT).
My five year old doesn’t have the baggage that 30 years in the Church can bring. She has no memories of unanswered prayers. She doesn’t wrestle with theological questions (although she is really trying to wrap her head around the Trinity). She just loves her Jesus so much that she can’t help but tell people about Him. And when someone in dance class is crying, she’ll walk over and ask to pray for them. And she thanks her Jesus for healing them and He meets them there and heals. And He is glorified. I am astounded and grateful and overwhelmed.
I’ve just about given up on myself. When I see sick babies or couples struggling with infertility I want to pray for them, but I figure there is someone more effective. The fear that God won’t meet me. The fear I won’t hear Him speak. The fear that it will hurt their faith because mine is shaky – it is so much more than I can bear.
But God….but God isn’t letting me go.
I was driving in a parking lot, on the way to the store and I felt my foot press the brake pedal as I looked to my left. And there was someone in the parking lot that had fallen, their shopping cart tangled around their legs on a cold, dark winter morning. There was a crowd of a few gathered, one on their phone presumably calling an ambulance as moments later I could hear their siren getting closer and closer. I moved my van out of the way and signaled to the store employee that there was a problem and then parked a few stores down.
I tried to get out of the car but I couldn’t. Even as I gripped the steering wheel, my hands began to shake. And tears ran down my cheeks. And my jaw began to tremble. And I had to pray.
I could hear something in the back of my mind. So quiet, that I almost didn’t catch it, but I strained to hear. And it was like hearing an old friend on the phone that you haven’t talked to in forever but you know that voice so well. Softly, I heard whispered, “Don’t be afraid. I’m still speaking to you.”
I believe; help me in my unbelief.
Brenna is a city-living, tender-hearted wife and mama to three little girls who encourage her daily to seek out the beauty in life. She loves Diet Coke, homemade bread, and Indian food. There is always something cooking in her oven. You will most likely find her either shuffling her girls off to an activity or cuddling with her family at home. She blogs about brokenness and redemption at Beautiful Things (http://chicagomama-brenna.blogspot.com) and you can find her on Twitter at @ChicagoMama