“All we can do is pray about it.” Is that something people say to you? Like, we’ve done everything we can, now we’re down to the final straw. One thing left to do…
Well, aside from the obvious – we’re supposed to pray first – I’m a bit leery of the last gasp prayer. Because it supposes that God won’t tell you, in your exasperated listening, to get off your knees and do something. Perhaps He won’t. Maybe He’ll just, with a consoling shake of the Great Head say, “Yes, I am frustrated with that circumstance, too. I am resigned to praying.” Which actually raises a whole other question…when God prays who does He pray to?…but that will have to wait for another day.
Today, I prefer to consider prayer as preparation. Preparing me for the next thing I am meant to do. When I suppose it is the last thing on the list, I’m presuming it’s all that will be asked of me. But what if He shows me something else? I need to leave that door open.
I just spoke to a friend who took a new job after 5 years in another position that was exceedingly difficult. This job, she says, is much harder, but in those 5 years God was teaching her and preparing her with all the tools she would need to succeed in the new job. As if He knew just where she was headed. Hard to believe.
That is what we say though, right? That He “has a plan for us, to prosper us and not to harm us, to give us hope and a future” (Jeremiah 29:11). So why would we settle for sitting in one place? Why would we insist on keeping this job? Why would we dig our feet in where we are? Probably because we know where we are. Where we are headed only He knows. But if we really trust that the way is His, then we need to be headed out. And, count on each faithful step preparing us for the next.
In my morning exercise I pull outward on the handles of my exercise tubing, its anchor in the hinge of the door, and squeeze my shoulder blades together, strengthening my shoulders and back. My body forms a T and I hold it there, a Crucifixion of sorts. Perhaps I am odd to wonder…Would this exercise prepare a body for crucifixion? How was Christ prepared? What could possibly prepare one for such a moment?
If God knew it was coming, if Christ was born to die on a cross, then His life was lived in preparation for exactly that moment, that event, that ending. Not to stand strong against it, but to do God’s will in it. To live it through to the end, until it is finished. There would be no praying it away. No asking for it to be removed – well, asking, but then resigning oneself to the reality – and then agreeing and submitting oneself to live the story as it had already been written.
Perhaps if I lived my life this way, even one day, accepting that everything that came and every hardship I faced, was intended specifically for the purpose of preparing me for the next thing, I would live differently. I would actually give thanks in ALL circumstances, knowing the work behind the scenes was all for the good of the one who loves God and has been called according to His purpose. (Romans 8:28)
What if God knew I could only fully experience the glories of heaven if my soul on earth was prepared fully? What if He designed each of our lives for exactly that purpose? As if He knew just where we were headed.
Seems like I sit a lot these days. Writing and blogging and posting and, well, information consumption can do that to you. That’s a bit of a problem for folks who like to move. Not just in the name of “getting in my exercise” or “keeping my weight down” or “not sitting for long periods because it’s bad for your health.” It disrupts me. Period.
And it’s pretty devious because sometimes I don’t notice. Been sitting here a while and everything I’m thinking is getting stale. The words are garbled. The imagination is out to lunch.
So one of my go-to’s is the seated tip. I extend my arms straight out to my sides (like a T) and, keeping my butt cheeks on the chair, I lean straight to one side and try to touch the floor with my fingertips. The other arm, then, is extended straight up to the ceiling. Then, I repeat this on the other side. It’s a core strength and oblique abdominals challenge. Our trunks are woefully weak in this computer and screen age.
I’m lop-sided. I can reach the floor on one side fairly easily, but not so easily on the other. I attribute this to an injury I sustained 2 1/2 years ago that put me in a brace for a bit. But that’s no excuse. I’m weak.
So, leaning right, I look at the floor, trying to urge my fingertips further, further to touch. Come on, you can do it! Slowly, awkwardly, I brush the floor. Success!
On the other side, I don’t look at the floor. (This wasn’t planned; it’s just how this has gone.) I look, instead, at my hand extended to the ceiling. And feel for the floor that comes into touch. Voila!
Then, I repeat. And of course, I compare. How come it’s so much harder on one side than the other? Injury, yes. Thorn in my side, perhaps.
But here I am, arms extended, to touch the earth and reach for the sky. I am the me in the middle. When I look to the earth and urge myself forward, my body resists. By my own effort I stretch, eventually. When I look to the sky and let myself go, my body complies, effortlessly.
Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven, I say to myself. Humankind is in between and reaching. Do I look down and push or do I look up and reach?
The distance is the same. The difference is me.