r williams img_0025_0This blog post started out with the humdrum, workaday title, “Practical Applications of Prayer.”  Nearly fell asleep as I typed it, so I had to re-name it.  The story is so much more complicated than that.

It all started with a simple prayer some three years ago.

“Help me.”

Simple and to the point.  Since I said that earnest, unvarnished prayer, every conceivable hard time has befallen me.  Now I know what Job felt like.  I’ve actually had the equivalent of boils, plagues, friggen locusts… massive debt, marriage unraveling, health in ruins….

Newsflash to self:  This is what help looks like.  Might not feel like it.  Might feel like torture right now.   Like God has turned his back on me.

Then it came to me: the mechanism of miracles has two parts.

The second part is what everyone wants to hear about: God parts the red sea and the problem is solved, but it’s the first part that leads you back to humility, to humanity, back to prayer.  The problem is what leads you back to faith, and returns you to the person you were born to be.

We’ve all been many versions of ourselves.  Many “things” get in our way as we try to grow.

This intractable awfulness did what both Billy Graham and Charles Darwin tried to get me to do…

By this “thing” you could say I was both born again and I evolved.

I evolved due to its presence – developed perseverance and fortitude.  When it was removed, I felt such relief and gratitude that it felt like being born again.

I asked for change, to be something more.  Believe it or not, this was a gift.

Ask and you shall receive, but perhaps not in the package you expected.

I can learn firsthand about the things most people have to do every day just to survive in this world, or I can read about it.  I can reach the point where I don’t have any idea how I’m going to pay all these bills and feed my son and my dog, or I can hear it anecdotally.

I can have a full complement of doubts and faith simultaneously, actually finding it plausible that God may have created us through evolution, that both could really be reasonable.  I can completely believe my life will be instantly transformed based on vague feelings and odd coincidences, and still believe in the conventions of empirical science.

I can learn how to treat people when I’m not at my best, when my stomach is not full, when my heart is lonely.  I can learn it the hard way and really get the message, and when abundance comes around I can savor God’s grace and feel its full impact from the crown of my head to the corns on my toes.

I can know for myself that all is well, no matter how dire things may seem.  I can find meaning every day as I make my way in the world, so that when my “shot” comes, I’ll have it in me to bring somebody else up along the way.

It’s a gift.  It’s God’s grace.  It’s life.

Trying Times

I don't know where, I don't know when,
But something's got to give.
I'm just gonna talk turkey (even though it's not Thanksgiving)
Gonna lay my cards on the table (even though we're not in Vegas)
You've really been putting me through it.

Sent me up that creek without a paddle.
But I'm not giving up on You.
I'm too stubborn for that.
All that I've been through, all the answers I still don't have.
It all comes down to this:
I don't know how, but I know Who.
Shore me up until I can stand on my own again.

-Ruth Williams

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