Thursday, July 9, 2009

Day 40: On our way...

Yay!!! We made it!!!

Today is the final day of our season of praying and fasting, and that's a cause for celebration. Some of us might not FEEL like celebrating at all: perhaps we're discouraged, or haven't seen any real movement in the area we've been praying about. But here's an important spiritual principle: Our emotions are not the truth. They don't get to decide what has and hasn't happened as the result of our prayers...unless we let them. They are not the governing force--God is. That, I think, is worth celebrating.

Here's how God's answers to prayers have mostly looked for me in the past: I pray and pray and pray and pray. Then I get distracted by life, maybe direct my attentions and prayers elsewhere for a season or two, then maybe circle back to pray for that first thing a few times more. And then a day comes, one that started out like any other day, when everything changes. And then it just seems so obvious that of course God heard my prayers, and of course He had a good plan all along. But still, even though I've seen this happen time and time again, it's tough to feel like I'm on a journey toward His answers when it feels like I'm standing still.

The last chapter of Ecclesiastes looks like a grim one if you read it quickly, with lots of talk of aging and the meaningless of life. But as I prayed about it last night, asking God "How can we end on that note?" and wondering if you'd notice if we just skipped it, He showed me another side to the story, to our story. Yes, it's true: most of the things we run around doing in life are meaningless: changing the oil in the car, washing laundry that will only get dirty again, deciding what to have for dinner. Who cares? But there's a bigger picture here, if we choose to play at a bigger level.

God reminded me of some observations my friend Jeff, a pastor in Minneapolis, shared on our friend Dave's website, about the things he sees in our reaction to the deaths of Michael Jackson and Farrah Fawcett. He grew up in a conservative home and so has the interesting perspective of looking at both of these lives from the end back, rather than as people he’d “known” all his life. What struck him was how we loved both Farrah and Michael, even as their lives were complicated and textured:

“Perhaps there is something important about faith in all this,” he says. “We look at Jackson and Fawcett and we see ourselves- yes, we are flawed. Yes, there are things about us that are deeply embarrassing. There are responses in us, sexual or otherwise, that at times we'd rather not admit to. And yet we are capable of courage, beauty, love, and compassion, even in the midst of our flaws. And, perhaps, this insistence is something of the reflection of the Divine within us. We will not be owned by our flaws, by our mistakes, or our personal demons. We are made for something larger, something better, something infinite. There is an almost messianic streak in some of Jackson's music- heal the world, we are the world, we don't want to be alone. I wonder if some of that resonates in everyone.”

I think Jeff is onto something. We don't have to be owned by our flaws, mistakes, or personal demons. And we don't have to overcome them before God will bless and use us. As we finish this season of investing in God's plan with our prayers and fasting, let's not be limited by what we can see in front of us right (or inside of us) now. Let's not be limited by what we feel. Let's look to God and ask him to connect us with the courage, beauty, love, and compassion he created us to live out...and for the ability to see it while it's happening!

I couldn't sleep last night, so I grabbed this book off the shelf to quiet my churning mind. I thought I'd read it before but I hadn't, because it's not at all what I thought. It's essentially a field guide to a happy life, where every single day is filled with joy. I can't imagine that quite yet, but if Brother Lawrence pulled it off back in the 1600s, hobbling around his monastery doing dishes, than it must be possible. I'm going to reach for it, starting today. So if you're looking for next steps now that the 40 days are over, grab a copy of this book and join me.

THANK YOU for being part of this season with me, for joining in and cheering each other on, and for believing God's big promises. Here's to keeping our arms and our hearts open in the days to come, ready to receive everything He has for us.

Amen :)


Sarakastic said...

Thanks so much for all the hard work you put into 40 Days of Faith. I'll definitely pick up that book.

Anonymous said...

Thanks Trish for taking the time out of your busy schedule to post nuggets of good info and encouragement. I really enjoyed your book and will be sure to pick up the new one when it is out.

Also - thank you for all of those who shared their needs, posted encouraging words and gave me some good advise on what I was dealing with. I will continue to keep you in my prayers and stand w/you believing that all your needs will be met!

Despite some discouraging days and disagreeing w/God on His timing and not having in hand at this moment what I am believing God for, I have learned and grown, got closer to the Lord, didn't give up and will continue my faith walk and believe God on His promises for me.

himmiefan said...

Trish, thank you so much for hosting these 40 days, particulary while trying to get your book done on time! A couple of times you've mentioned something that you're praying for but have not received yet. I just wanted you to know that many of us have been praying for you for this particular situation.

Thanks again!

Stella said...

Gosh, I'm REALLY sorry to see this end ... I've enjoyed every day here!

To EVERYONE: Wow, I feel I'm a better person for having had the priviledge of sharing in your dreams and cares ... and thank you for your support and allowing me to prattle on and on and on ... WINK!

To TRISH: Thank you for stretching me into new ways of thinking about faith, prayer and how they relate in a practical way to daily living ... you've been the right messenger at the right time for this Jesus girl.

Oops! I'm getting teary ... so I'm just going to sign-off by saying that for each one of you who shared these 40 days with me, I'm going to keep on believing that God will provide for you and bring us all into a bigger, grander version of our dreams.

Hug, Stella

kim said...

Trish, thanks so much for these 40 days! Thanks for your encouragement, insights and transparency. I'm so excited for your new book.

heiress said...

Trish thank you so much again for a wonderful opportunity to spend our summer praying for our hearts desires.

To everyone I will continue to pray for all of you I know God has been here with us. And if anyone has any answered prayers in the near future please post them it's such a joy to hear how God works in other lives as well.

Today, unlike yesterday I feel God has given me a sense of peace, and when I receive my husband and job I will be sure to let you all know!

Take care, and enjoy your summer.
God Bless

Breeza said...

Thanks Trish! This has been my daily inspiration. I feel blessed to be read this and read everyone else's comments and know that there are others going through the same valleys and trials as me. I'll continue to pray for you all! And I will let you know when I get a job and husband--hopefully soon! :)

Abby Green said...

Amen! Wow, this has been a true place of encouragement and focus for the past 40 days...THANK YOU! It's funny how you (I guess I should say "I") started to feel like I knew all of you...and that it feels like we should all have go out for a dinner celebration and a group hug right now. Maybe that's part of the charm in this, that we don't know if we are passing by each other on the street or if we live many miles apart. Either way, this has been wonderful and I will continue to pray for husbands and jobs and JOY for all of you! The book you mentioned sounds great Trish!...thank you for leading us in this time!

Rachaelita said...

Thanks Trish and thanks to all of you for providing such a supportive and nurturing space to share our desires, hopes, dreams and fears. I've kind of dropped in here and there over the last 40 days but I will continue to pray for everyone here and continue to keep the faith in God's providence and goodness for us all!

Suzanne said...

Somehow I wandered away and just came back...maybe it's because I went to church yesterday or just saw your post about the 40 days of writing in my google reader (which I usually don't pay attention to)...but what you mentioned today about prayer, how we pray and pray and nothing seems to happen, and we wander off and then it does happen, like it's supposed to...that's the perfect touchstone for me to hold on to and one I can really believe in. I've been worried about the future for so long that now I'm visualizing the joy I will feel with the perfect outcome.