What Room Are You In?

“My Father’s house has many rooms.” – John 14:2a NIV

Paging through my prayer journal recently, I came across an email I sent to my writing buddies following a time of discouragement.

“For a while I thought everything seemed to be drying up,” I’d written. “I was wrong. God told me this is but a season, to savor the quietness, the solitude, the unhurried pace of life because it will not always be so. Life will get hectic (another season), and I will long for this quiet time of peace. I am to fortify my spirit by spending time with Him, in His Word, in prayer, in feeding my heart, mind, and soul.

“I am not in the wilderness. I am not in the recovery room. I am not in the waiting room. I’m in the preparation room.”

The email was dated February 20, 2008, 10 years ago.

Seasons of life are more than the spring, summer, fall, and winter years. They are also times we live through – or rooms, if you will. We’re all in one room or another, aren’t we?

The waiting room. Here is where our patience is tested and grown. We don’t know how long we’ll be here, waiting to be examined and given a diagnosis. Our wondering leads to fear, anxiety, worry. Like David, we cry out, “How long, O LORD? Will You forget me forever? How long will You hide Your face from me?” (Psalm 13:1)

What can we do while we’re waiting?

Trust. God’s got this. “Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will direct your paths” (Proverbs 3:5–6).

Pray. Not for patience (Lord forbid!) but for strength for the wait.

I love what Melissa Sylvis, the speaker for the 2017 Punxsutawney Christian Women’s Conference, posted on Facebook last month: “When He opens a door, then the place is prepared for you and you have been prepared for that place! You can walk into it hand-in-hand with God, and then you will realize that it was worth the wait!”

The preparation room. This is where you get prepped for what’s coming up. It’s a busy room for all but you. You lie (or sit) there, feeling helpless, anxious, and fearful. What’s the best thing you can do?

Submit. To the experts’ ministrations. They know what they’re doing. So does God, who sends people and circumstances your way to prepare you for what He knows is up ahead. Trust comes into play here, too.

The operating room. This is where the fixes take place. Note you’re not the surgeon. You’re not the anesthesiologist. You’re not on the medical team. You’re on the operating table. Your life is in the hands of the Master Surgeon.

In a real operating room, you’re usually asleep, unaware of what’s happening. But for our analogy, you’re aware of what’s happening, but you don’t know why. You don’t see the end result. You have to trust your life in the Healer’s hands, believing that He knows what’s best for you. That all this is according to His plan and purpose for you, to mold you into His vision for you.

The recovery room. Here is where you recover under the watchful eyes and skilled care of a trained medical staff. Often you’re taken to therapy, where muscles are stretched and strengthened, where sometimes you have to re-learn things or learn new ways to cope.

“There are times I cry in anxiety and frustration, in fear and discouragement,” I wrote in my email. “But I live expectantly. I am to enjoy this time, savor it, and not rush to get through it.”

Note that every room has a requirement if you’re to get through it successfully: Trust. In God, His Word, His promises, His steadfast love. Trust in His goodness, mercy, and grace.

What room are you in?

Lord, I trust You. I really do! Help me when my faith falters. Remind me to rest on Your unchanging grace and let You do what You do best. Amen.

Read and meditate on Psalm 91

© 2018 Michele Huey. All rights reserved.

 

Parachutes and Prayers

 

“Lord, teach us to pray.” – Luke 11:1 NIV

 “Do not have your concert first and tune your instruments afterward. Begin the day with God.”

For years, I wrote these words of the late missionary Hudson Taylor on the front of my daily devotional booklet, which I received monthly in the mail. The back of the cover at that time was blank, and I used it to list prayer needs. I kept it with my Bible near my prayer chair.

Nowadays I receive the daily devotional readings via email. I thought it would save them the cost of printing and mailing, but I miss the old way. It was simple. And it was physical – a visual reminder to tune myself up before launching into the day.

When we visited the North Cascades Smokejumper base in Winthrop, Washington, this past summer, we learned about the difference between round and rectangular parachutes. There are advantages and disadvantages to both, but the main thing about a parachute is that, for everyone but smokejumpers and skydivers, a parachute is an emergency piece of equipment. It’s there, but you hope you never have to use it.

My prayer life, without the visual reminders and the discipline to take the time, morphs into a parachute mode: There for emergencies only.

Many are the books and articles written on prayer, but let’s focus on Jesus’s attitude toward prayer, as shown through His answer to the disciples’ request, “Teach us to pray,” and through His own prayer life.

First, prayer is private. “When you pray,” Jesus instructed His disciples, “go away by yourself, shut the door behind you, and pray to your Father in private” (Matthew 6:6). And He set the example: “Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed” (Mark 1:35). You’ll find Jesus often going off by Himself to a mountaintop or a remote place to spend time with the Father.

Which brings us to the second point I want to make: Prayer is a relationship, not a religious activity (Henry Blackaby). Note the words “pray to your Father.”

Relationships involve regular communication, involving both speaking and listening: “A man prayed and at first thought that prayer was talking. But he became more and more quiet until in the end he realized prayer is listening.” (Søren Kierkegaard)

Third, prayer is concise. “When you pray,” Jesus said, “don’t babble on and on as the Gentiles do. They think their prayers are answered merely by repeating their words again and again. Don’t be like them, for your Father knows exactly what you need even before you ask Him!” (Matthew 6:7–8)

In the words of C. H. Spurgeon, “True prayer is measured by weight, not by length. A single groan before God may have more fullness of prayer than a fine oration of great length.”

And finally, prayer is constant. You don’t contact those you love only when you need something. You want to spend every minute you can with them. So it is with God.

Prayer is our line of communication, time carved out of a busy schedule to talk and listen, to get to know our Father and His Son better.

Prayer is not a parachute, to be used only in times of emergency.

In the words of George Herbert, “Prayer should be the key of the day and the lock of the night.”

Lord, teach me to pray. Amen.

Read and meditate on Matthew 6:5–13

© 2018 Michele Huey. All rights reserved.