it's the little things

It's 4:40 am and I'm eating a bowl of honeyed cheerios. I haven't slept. I've spend the past 4 1/2 hours turning and turning (but not tossing. I haven't been tossing anything up in the air or to anyone. Where in the world did that phrase come from anyway?) Not too long ago I had a similar night to this one, and now I feel the need to blog about it. Because it was sort of a momentous occasion for me.

That day I sat at the kitchen table and wrote the first honest thing to God that I've said in months. It went like this:

I think I'm forgetting how to trust you. I think I doubt your love. I'm not sure why . . . maybe it has something to do with growing up and seeing more of the bad in the world? The older I get, the more uncertain I become that you have a plan for everything and everyone. I've begun to believe that you don't step in as often--that more often than not we're left to the consequences of our own sin and choices. Is this a hazard to my faith? That I don't expect miracles? Or that I don't pray believing you'll answer in the way I want? My prayers have become so small.

So that night I woke at 1 am, wide awake, with nothing to think or do. It clicked in me like a light bulb to start reading Donald Miller's Blue Like Jazz again. It's one of my favorite books and it had been awhile since I read it. I took it to bed and switched on my headlamp so as not to disturb Jonathan, and then I ended up moving to the kitchen table. Finally, at page 86, back in my bed again, God's love took hold of me in one of the most powerful ways it ever has. This is what I read: "Self-discipline will never make us feel righteous or clean; accepting God's love will. The ability to accept God's unconditional grace and ferocious love is all the fuel we need to obey him in return. Accepting God's kindness and free love is something the devil does not want us to do. If we hear, in our inner ear, a voice saying we are failures, we are losers, we will never amount to anything, this is the voice of Satan trying to convince the bride that the groom does not love her. This is not the voice of God. God woos us with kindness, he changes our character with the passion of his love."

Ever since that night, I've been praying more. And I tell you, God has been answering the funniest little prayers. Last week I went to the library and was told that I returned a DVD without its disc. The library woman graciously checked it back out to me so that I could take it home and find the disc, but when I went home, it wasn't anywhere, and I prayed it would be at the library so I wouldn't have to pay £15 for a DVD I didn't want. After a few days I went back and explained to another woman that I couldn't find it, and lo and behold, it was filed in another case.

The other night, Jonathan made a mistake while restoring his iPhone, so that he thought he lost all of his data, including his sporadic notes he takes every day. He prayed that he would get it all back, and suddenly, without explanation, his iPhone restored from nothing.

On Friday I prayed for my parent's safe driving to Seward and back to Denver (to take my brother Andrew to college for the first time). Today they told me that they went to a mechanic when they got back, and he said their tires and ball bearings should not have carried them safely all the way home. But they made it safely and without any accident, praise God.

So, maybe these prayers don't stop wars or global warming or world poverty, but maybe it means enough to Him that I start believing that prayer changes the world--and me. Maybe that's why he sent the little miracles that I told him I didn't believe in anymore.

I know one thing and it alone changes me: I am loved.


Susan Isaacs said...

Amy: first of all, it's great to discover your blog and you. Thank you for reminding me that if we feel far from god or doubt him, often we just need to spend a little time reading the books that first reminded us of his love, or praying. Often I feel far from God and when I examine my behavior, I haven't been putting myself in God's face. On the other hand, as we grow older God often steps back to teach us faith. A friend reminded of the passage in The Screwtape Letters: the law of undulation. That's a Brit's way of saying there are ebbs and flows. And then of course that one thing we all get to look forward to: the Dark Night of the Soul, where God removes himself from us and it seems like he's not there at all, even with prayer and reading and all of that. But God is never absent, even if he's hidden. he's teaching us always, that he's there. SOmetimes all we can say is, "Jesus loves me, this I know." I haven't read BLJ for a while but you've got me hankering for it. I think I'll crack it back open this evening.

Amy said...

this is an interesting concept and one i've never thought of before--the idea that as we get older, God steps back from us to grow our faith. but i can attest to the law of undulation. especially considering all of the factors that effect my daily faith--worship, relationships with my community of faith, relationships with family and friends, life circumstances, and of course the regularity of our prayer life and Bible reading.

growing up i was called a goody goody, a teacher's pet, etc. etc. etc. i've always been a people pleaser, and i think this typically describes my relationship with God--a God pleaser. at least i attempt to be. and this is how the undulation works in my life--from grace to law and around and up in circles. it's hard to find the proper balance (which is why i need to be in the Word). but i think this is why Don's words were what i needed to hear, because i was not acknowledging grace. i was disgusted with myself and my own failures to meet God where he is, forgetting that God has already come all the way to meet me, i just have to accept his love and forgiveness.

thanks for your thoughts! i've always wanted to read The Screwtape Letters, but never got around to it. maybe that'll be the next book i pick up.