Sunday, April 16, 2006

Lost gameboys and worshipping God...

Eli lost his gameboy a week ago.

If you know us, you know this is traumatic. He loves that thing. I do think it is a blessing, for the time being - even as I do hope for his sake we find it.

The painful part was his prayer tonight.

"Dear God, Please Please please help me find my gameboy. Please help me find it right away in the morning, when I first wake up. I have asked you every night for three nights to please please help me find it.
You can do it. You have all the power. I don't know why you don't want to? It's sort of confusing to me. But please help me find it. In Jesus name, Amen."

He walked away, blew his nose ( Allergy season!) and as he threw his tissue away, he began to pray again.

"God, thank you for mom and dad and Julia. Thanks for this day too. Amen"

He looked at me and said;

"You know mom, every time I go to pray, all I can think about is my gameboy. But I know those other things are important and God wants to hear about them too."

I remember somewhere along the way learning not to pray such things. Much like the disciples told the children not to approach Jesus. Jesus taught them otherwise. I'm once again learning to pray for help to find my keys when they're lost. :-) Eli's already got the lesson learned from the persistent widow in practice...:-)

Bigger than that though, is the process of learning that God isn't Santa Claus. He's better. And I would say that my pain is because it is hard for a 6 year old to comprehend that, but in reality, his prayer is so touching because it is so honestly where we all have been at one point or another, even as adults.

I prayed the same words when I desperately wanted to be free of panic attacks, & anxiety. I've prayed it over lesser wants. I prayed it when our daughter was dying.

There is something painful about the process of comprehending just how great God's power is, and then understanding it's not always "up for grabs" in the manner that we ask just because we ask for it.

Some experience that, and upon learning it, walk away. I did, for a while.

The temptation comes when we perceive a "no", or at least a delay in God's response to us. We begin to tell ourselves that maybe He doesn't really exist, or maybe He's not so powerful. Or maybe we're not worthy. And then our anger is directed to God for making us this way and then not accepting us.... the lies all take different forms, but they are all pretty powerful.
In my case, I tried to talk myself into being an atheist. I wasn't successful in the depths of my heart, in spite genuine effort and motivation at the time. His presence and existence are just undeniable, and was so even in my anger. So I settled for believing in Him, but refusing to worship a God that would allow such things to happen and refuse to answer such simple prayers.

What a common spiritual battle... God battles for us to really know Him. Satan battles for us to shallowly believe we already do.

I'm thankful for the story of the prodigal son. And Peter. And the sinful woman. I'm thankful I had precedence to come back after such actions.

Somewhere along the way we begin to limit our image of God to our own sense of justice and logic. No wonder we would quickly tire of worshipping Him. If He didn't call us to a greater understanding of Himself outside the perimeters of ourselves, we would most likely end up worshipping the mirror... being impressed with all the good things we could call God into action for.

But His "No's", and His delays... His permission for pain to enter our life; they all make us take a second glance at who we think He is. The doubts bring about right questions... and if hang in there and we really grapple with them, we get deeper, better, answers than the superficial ones we often satisfied ourselves with previously.

No doubt, this is a risk.
Some walk away, for a time. Some walk away forever.

But for those that grapple with it - for those that begin to understand their place in relation to Him instead of His power in relation to them...they win. He gains worshippers who truly serve Him and not an image of Him in their own mind, and they find what they had always hoped was there...

Invincible power.
Eternal love.
Presence and working in every situation.
Promises and Trust.

Real peace.

Even when the gameboy stays lost and the daughter remains in the grave. (For now....)

I grew up learning of God. I thought I knew God was powerful. I thought I understood His love and goodness.
But in His refusal to instantly gratify some of my wants, in His willingness to tell me no, I began to understand a depth of His power and the intensity of
His love that far superseded my imagination.

And the peace I rest in daily because of that assurance is more satisfying than any artificial peace I would have created by having every whim my limited imagination could dream up answered and put into place.

God has said yes to things I never even dared to pray out of embarrassment. He has said no to things I desperately pleaded for.
And I have learned He is worthy of every last bit of praise I have to offer... everytime.


Theresa said...

This has been my very struggle for the past several years. I wish I could put things so eloquently. You are amazing. I learn so much from you. You are real. You struggle. You hurt. And then you rejoice. And that is so inspiring. God has done wonderful things with you.

I love you.

Cindy said...

What an amazing post on prayer!

I am waiting for your book to come out. ;-)

Stuart said...

I'm waiting for your book to come out too!!

Hmm...if only we knew someone who works for an incredible Christian publishing company.

I just know in your blogposts we could find a book summary and 1st chapter - I'll walk all the way to CO Springs myself to hand deliver it!!

So proud to be counted among your friends, my dear sister.

Genuinely - Stuart

Brenda said...

First off...I love Eli's prayer. Children are so honest in their prayers. I can they not be honest. And it is so precious too.

I went one time to this thing...and I'll call it a thing to keep is anonomous....where someone told me I was being very "selfish" in my prayers. Asking 'specifically' for things (much like the gameboy or the keys..or the life of a child etc) and I was told that I should not be praying what I want but what God wants.

But isn't that ultimately what we do anyway? I struggle so much with this. I know that even before I pray that God knows what I'm going to why try to fake it. Why not just pour my heart out to Him and let Him hear my feelings? Wow...and now as I sit here, I'm tearing up and getting all emotional about this cause it hits so close to home. I know I am a selfish person. That is one of my weaknesses and imperfections. God made me weak and in Him I find my strentgth to ask for what I need and what I want. It is up to Him to give me the yes or no and then it is my inner strength that has to learn how to deal with that on a whole different level. God never said life would be fair, easy, or a chariot of roses. But He did say come unto me and I'll give you rest. He didn't say come unto me and I'll give you yes.
I don't know if this is goes along with what you are saying Heather but this point hit home with me cause someone told me I couldn't ask God for what I wanted. And I believe I can. I believe Eli can. I believe we all can and I love that Eli has learned that lesson. Now to watch Eli grow in his faith and maturity with God's answer will be a true testimony. I'm excited for this journey for him and can't wait to see the outcome. Thank you for sharing this. It touched my heart this afternoon! Love you!

DJT said...

Wow, I can only say that. I am going through one of those times right now when it is so hard to even pray. I can't even get started most of the time. My heart aches and I just want to scream or give up. Then, he gives me a glimpse of how crazy that is and I just go back to the heartache. I wish I could break through the heartache. Your comments were very helpful. Perhaps soon.

Carolyn said...


Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts and experiences. I teared up as I read about your testimony to God's work in your life. Thank you for the way you praise Him with your life - standing on this side of loss, struggles, growth.

I have been so encouraged by your posts. It sure would be neat to be able to see you and Jason - and your kids. Your kids sound like a lot of fun!

Love you,

Toby said...

I was really encouraged by this.

One thing that has really discouraged me lately, is that many people I have talked to, believe that God cannot say no, because "everything is a yes in Christ." This is true, but I believe sometimes his "yes," is a resounding 'no.' "No," is not always negative, but can be used to really grow and challenge the heart of our relationship with God.

Angie said...

Well, here's a little something from the amen corner! :-)

I've said it before. You're the real deal Heather. And the church is longing for that.

A lot of my gay friends talk about how in their earliest years they prayed and prayed and prayed for God to take away their unsettling attractions, and they've all come to different conclusions about God based on His (perceived) response. It reminds me of how Paul prayed so hard for God to take away his thorn in the flesh... but look at the kind of man God molded him into in that process.

Recently I watched a nooma video (Rob Bell) called Rhythm. In one part, everyone was praying for 2 people who were sick. When one became well, everyone was praising God because he had answered their prayers. But what about the other guy? Isn't God as present there? I think so. Maybe even moreso.

Blessed be your name
In the land that is plentiful
Where the streams of abundance flow
Blessed be your name

Blessed be your name
When I'm found in the desert place
Though I walk through the wilderness
Blessed be your name

Every blessing you pour out,
I turn back to praise
When the darkness closes in, Lord
Still I will say...
Blessed be the name of the Lord
Blessed be your name
Blessed be the name of the Lord
Blessed be your glorious name

Blessed be your name
When the sun's shining down on me
When the world's all as it should be
Blessed be your name

Blessed be your name
On the road marked with suffering
Oh, There's pain in the offering
Blessed be your name

You give and take away
You give and take away
My heart will choose to stay
Well Blessed be your name