Sometimes prayer feels like talking to the ceiling. It can be therapeutic, sure. There’s something about saying my request out loud or at least getting it on paper that has its own value, apart from the chance an all-powerful Deity is listening in and wanting to answer with a “yes.”
But what if someone is listening? For me, this isn’t such a big What If. I’ve been taught since birth that God exists, and he “rewards those who earnestly seek him” (that’s from Hebrews 11). But even me, with my history book full of people faithfully showing and telling me about God, even I have my empty feelings. Praying to the ceiling feelings.
Our pastor Kyle spoke today about the spiritual rhythm of a community gathering together then being sent out; gathering and going. Like dots on a map, becoming a solid mass in the pews on Sunday, then spreading out to our separate places and spaces of influence the rest of the week. Breathing, in and out. He talked about how this rhythm is the pattern of the church, how we are called to gather (reaching inward) and also to disciple (going out).
As I listen to him I picture a flower opening and closing. I open my own journal, on my lap, and am carried back to the moment of my writing. April 2, 2015. Almost exactly a year ago, an entry about crossroads, asking my Ceiling for some direction as we grope around in the dark, wondering about extending our lease, staying in community in South Texas, or saying goodbye to everything and plunging into the unknown. I beg for illumination, that lamp even one step ahead so I know I’m not lost. I flip forward through April’s pages, helpless cries from a tired mother praying breakthrough for strong-willed children. More questions about the future in May, as a name rises into my prayers: Nacogdoches.
Life in the rearview mirror is so simple we can miss it. Today during the course of an average Sunday I had conversations with several people who are now dear to me. My kids love their teachers. One of them saw I needed help after church and held Ransom so I could take the big kids to the bathroom. A small grace. My life is overflowing with these, so small I can miss them. But sometimes I read my words written in darkness and remember: this is the future I was terrified of. This bright place of belonging and blooming and healing and connecting, this is what I didn’t know was around the sharp corner.
I ran into a sweet friend on my way to pick up the kids after church. We had a quick exchange about How God Works. Last week our midweek community group was presented with the idea of merging with another smaller group to make one bigger, happier group. My instinctual response was No. Why change what’s been working and risk awkwardness and potential discomfort? What I didn’t know at the time was that, the other group? It’s my friend’s group. Hers, the sweet one I was talking to.
I don’t know where my heart learned to distrust Change, why I think the tender-hearted Father is maybe a cold flat surface above my head, blocking out the sun. But when I read my own history, I see nothing but goodness and graces. No ceiling, just God above turning everything into glory.