We are a people of our destiny, not our history.
We honour the past, but we don’t live in it.
– Graham Cooke
Sometimes I wonder if God doesn’t answer our petitions right away because he is waiting for us to ask a better question. What if our expectations limit what He wants to do? What if we listened to how Jesus prays for us?
Now to the God who can do so many awe-inspiring things,
things greater than we ever could ask
through the power at work in us,
to Him be all glory in the church
and in Jesus the Anointed
from this generation to the next,
forever and ever.
(Ephesians 3:20, 21 The Voice)
“For many of us perseverance is not a spiritual quality that we aspire to. We seem rather to think that faith is evidenced by quick results. We get faith for something and start believing with the force of a steam train, but if we don’t see the results we want, and quickly, we lose heart.
I think it may be more accurate to say we lose faith quickly because we have already lost heart. Losing faith is merely a symptom. Much like chest pain is a sign of a heart attack, so lack of perseverance is a sign our heart has been damaged.”
-Bishop Todd Atkinson, from While He Lay Dying
I’m back in ranch country babysitting my grandchildren while their parents are away. They are hard-working folk, these cowboys. For over a hundred years they have been saddling up, no matter what the weather. Some of the more grizzled ones look like they have been in the saddle for a hundred years, but they are strong people.
I cleaned the fresh snow off the car, scraped the ice off the windshield, and drove the grandkids to school in the dark and cold this morning. None of us were thrilled about the rituals of a January morning. This is the longest month of the year for me. It’s a one foot in front of the other kind of time.
While I’m here I’m teaching my amazing twelve-year old granddaughter to sew. I’ve been doing it for so long I’ve forgotten how many steps there are to learning how to put the pieces of fabric together, but she catches on very quickly. She is also excited about learning math and science and is teaching herself sign language as well. She has an amazing ability to synchronize information gleaned from one area and connect it to another. It’s starting to come together for her. I love watching the way her mind works. But without the dailiness of school and reading and fact gathering she wouldn’t have the information she needs – and craves – to put the pieces together. Her brother is a keen observer of people and makes the same kind of connections, but in relationships. He already shows a growing ability to live with compassion and consideration.
And so we all saddle up and go through the routines of a winter morning, because perseverance in the dark and in the cold leads to breakthrough and connection to greater truths.
There are times when we are in crisis and facing overwhelming odds, as a community did when contending for the life of Bruce Merz, when the lessons the Lord has taught through perseverance start to come together. Who knew one of the lessons involved would be perseverance itself? Bishop Atkinson understood that like Daniel prevailing in prayer for 21 days, the breakthrough would not be quickly won.
Amazingly after 21 days of round-the-clock prayer there was breakthrough. We started to make connections – the kind of connections that change our lives forever.
The story is told in While He Lay Dying. The website, including photos and videos, is here.
It’s inspiring reading on a cold January day and may give you some of the information you need to gather for your own breakthrough.
His Daddy asked each of the children to tell him three things they liked about Mommy so he could write it in her birthday card. I like this habit they are developing in the children. On birthdays now, even for the adults, we go around the table and everyone expresses something they see in the person of honour – a character quality, an improvement or a promising bit of potential. One of the observations our four-year old grandson wanted his Dad to write down as a message to Mommy was, “I like your prayerness.”
I love it. Prayerness. Prayer is not just something you do; prayer is a state of being.
Why did I choose one of my photos of fire today? Lately, with all the extreme cold of winter, some people are experiencing furnace problems. The pilot light (flame) has gone out. The furnace won’t work. Some of our friends depend on wood heat. If they sleep too long without stoking the wood stove the fire goes out and the whole thing has to be re-kindled and built up again.
Prayerness, a constant state of being in connection with God, the source of all light and power, essentially keeps the fire burning. It keeps our hearts from growing cold. That’s why we are told to pray for those people who are a source of annoyance (or worry) in our lives – because you can’t maintain the warmth of caring without prayer. We become cold-hearted, detached. Without prayer we rely on our own resources, which have a shelf-life. With prayerness we don’t have to go looking for Jesus when we have a question or a crisis. We’re already connected.
Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer.
I love it when a four-year old preaches.
My son proudly showed me the pocket watch his mother-in-law gave him for Christmas. It’s a family heirloom that is nearly a hundred years old. The biggest surprise to him was that after he wound it, it still works. The parts that have seen the passing of time are so fine and yet continue to mark the moments, time after time.
I don’t know how many seconds have passed in all that time, but I know that God is worthy of praise for every one of them. No matter the times, no matter the circumstances, he makes our future glisten with hope – time after time.
I will praise the Lord at all times.
I will constantly speak his praises.
I will boast only in the Lord;
let all who are helpless take heart.
Come, let us tell of the Lord’s greatness;
let us exalt his name together!
I prayed to the Lord, and he answered me.
He freed me from all my fears.
Those who look to him for help will be radiant with joy;
no shadow of shame will darken their faces.
May this New Year glisten with hope.
May you be radiant with joy
time after time.