Friday, January 7, 2011

Let It Be

5 “And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. 6 But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you. 7 And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words. 8 Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him.” Matthew 6:5-9

Father, does this mean if people actually begin to read this blog that this won’t be prayer but spectacle? I’ve been part of churches for a long time now and this passage of your word has always caused me to doubt. I’ve heard long, long prayers seemingly aimed more at the audience than anywhere.

This is one of the things you already know, that I need to read your word every day. And you know that I have been trying to do that. In fact it was earlier today that I read this passage in Matthew as part of an on-line Bible reading program. And it was yesterday that I believe you were telling me to stop delaying and to start blogging. I guess I would like it if people read and responded but I don’t want that to be my reward.

I really do want to write to you, Father. I want to ask you questions that have been bouncing around my head for years. Of course, that too is part of the mystery. You already know those questions just as you already know my needs. Why is it not enough to just let that be? Amen.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

When I Died

You remember, it was three years ago today. Or was it yesterday? I went into the hospital for a routine appendectomy. My 11-year-old daughter, adopted from China and who has some pretty significant cognitive developmental issues, looked at me as I was being wheeled away on the gurney and said very straight forwardly, "Daddy, you're going to die." Remember, I replied, "Honey, I'm not going to die," holding onto the last word for emphasis. She waited with her mom and sister until I returned to "recovery" where I mumbled to her. "See, you're daddy's fine. I didn't die."

But, Father, she was right, wasn't she? Just an hour or so later, a nurse heard an alarm go off in my room and they found me not breathing and in full cardiac arrest. For twelve minutes, a nurse named Jane applied CPR while other technicians applied seven sets of electrical shocks. And then you let me stay, didn't you? Not that it was easy though. It took two and a half more days before anyone knew for sure you were letting me stay, and I wasn't awake for any of it. I guess you could say I was a goner. Some even said I was clinically dead, at least for those twelve minutes.

You probably remember this too: I was confused. The doctor had to repeat again and again what had happened, and then I asked Paula, my wife and a nurse, to explain it again.

During the time I was battling to stay, many of your children prayed that I would survive. One of them, my old friend John (he has to be one of your favorites too because he trusts you more than anyone I know) prayed. He said at first he didn't think you were going to do it. He thought I was a goner. But as he turned to leave the room, he said he could feel a very bright light descend over my bed around the others who were there also, and that as he left the room, he knew I would be healed. Two days later I woke up. You let me stay.

I don't know how John knew but I believe he did know. I believe you told him even though he didn't stop to tell anyone in the room. Thank you for my brother, John, and thank you for all the others who prayed over those days. One of these friends liked to call me the Miracle Man.

As you know, I'm not always sure why you let me stay. I haven't made the most of these last three years. In fact I've made some real blunders. You must shake your head and wonder if you made a mistake. But I thank you mostly for the extra time with my girls and my other children (and their children) and, of course, with Paula, my angel. Thank you for these last three years. I'm going to try to do better. Really. Amen.

Being Write with God

A number of years ago, I decided to start prayer journaling as a jumpstart to a more satisfying and effective prayer life. I came up with a catchy title for the effort called “Write with God.” That was as far as I got. Not too satisfying nor effective.

But today walking along the Catawba River in South Carolina and talking to God about events over the last three or four years, I concluded it was time to start. I checked the availability of Write with God on Blogger only to find, alas, that someone else is as catchy as I, as well as a little faster on the draw to claim the name. But ever vigilant after four years of procrastination, I tried “Being Write with God,” which of course no one would really want because it’s neither catchy nor grammatically correct. But, hey, it was available so here we are: it’s a start. Amen.