On Tuesday evening, I nearly died.
I’m only kind of exaggerating.
I sat out in the cold in not nearly enough clothing for 2 1/2 hours, waiting for the Tegan and Sara concert to start.
I spent most of the 2 1/2 hours buried in my coat, trying to will my hands and feet and knees to come back to life. I don’t know the last time I was so physically miserable. I’d rather break my wrist again. Or get dental work. Or go for a run.
I didn’t wait in the cold for Tegan and Sara as much as I did for Brittany. My sister wanted to get there early so that we could be close to the stage, and I obliged.
Of course, after obliging, I realized I am too old for that crap. I don’t want to sit in the cold, and I don’t want to follow that sitting in the cold by standing in a crowd of people on my numb, club-like feet, amongst pushing and shoving and jumping people who smell like cigarettes. The concert was fun, don’t get me wrong, but that’s probably the last time I will put myself in that kind of situation. Next time Tegan and Sara come to town, it better be summer, or else there will be no obliging to a 2 1/2 hour wait outside.
You know what else I found myself thinking though, while I was sitting in the cold wondering how it was possible that time was moving so slowly? I thought about how love put me in that position. Loving Brittany caused me to agree to subject myself to bitter cold.
And as much as I love Brittany, how much more do I love the Lord?
And when is the last time I allowed myself to be even half that uncomfortable for Him?
I hesitate to go to church because it’s scary. I choose Gilmore Girls re-runs over time spent with Him because mindless television is “easier”.
Of course, if God asked me to sit in the cold for 2 1/2 hours, He’d also probably say, “Dear girl, bring a coat! And a hat!” He provides for us and walks us through anything He asks us to do. However, would we even get that far? Or would I say, “It’s scary and uncomfortable. He understands. He knows how hard it is for me. If I don’t do it, He’ll forgive me.” I worry I often say the latter.
Desperately, I want the life I live to be one that gives God priority, always. I want Him to be God of every area of my life. I want to love Him more than Gilmore Girls and comfort and mindlessly doing nothing. I want to love Him more than people.
I want to need Him and hunger for Him and thirst for Him and TRUST that when I call on Him, He will show up in a way that is real and not fog- present and real but intangible.
I don’t know what I expect, I just know prayer and Bible study hold a lot less appeal if I don’t open my mind to the possibility of God showing up in some way that blows my mind and makes me take Him out of the box I’ve put Him in for so long.
Maybe now He is still in that box, but the lid is off at least. I have given Him permission to stretch and move and stand up and maybe even step out.
But I know He wants me to seek Him whole-heartedly, and that if I want Him to show up, that is what I need to do. However, as hungry and thirsty as I am for Him, often I quench that desire with something less. I don’t want to do that anymore.
There’s so much power in going through life expecting that God will actually show up.
Life just isn’t worth it without that possibility. People are great and sunsets are breath-taking and my cats make me laugh daily, but I need Jesus. In a world filled with loss and sorrow and suffering, I’ve been reminded over and over again that God is the one thing I can count on never to leave me or be taken from me or break my heart. He has, at many points in my life, been (or felt like) all I had.
I don’t know what I want or need or expect. I just know I’m hungry. I just know I cannot turn off the part of my brain and heart that insist that there’s got to be more.
I want Jesus to hug me. I want Him to kiss my forehead and look me in the eyes and tell me it all matters. That even though it’s part of His plan, and even though He’s going to use it, and even though there’s worse suffering in this world, than what I’ve been through in my life matters- that it wasn’t okay, that my heart is important to Him.
Recently I read something that initially seemed like a pretty obvious statement, but my eyes stuck on the sentence: “The devil fears prayer.”
The devil fears prayer.
When I pray, that makes the devil squirmy and twitchy and nervous and uncomfortable.
BECAUSE HE KNOWS GOD WILL RESPOND.
And maybe God won’t respond in the way I hope, which will give the devil the opportunity to convince me God doesn’t care or love me, but that’s all the power he has- he is armed with nothing more than lies. And even as he tries to get me to believe his lies, he will know that, regardless of how my prayer is answered, it was (or will be) answered. It was heard, and always God will do what is best for His Kingdom.
No wonder the devil is scared of prayer! Our prayers are powerful!
And the fact that we love and worship a God who cares what we want and how we feel?! It’s BEAUTIFUL. It’s an inexpressibly beautiful thing.
I think sometimes that the devil has more faith in the power of my prayers than I do.
How important the Bible is. How quick I am to believe lies. How quick I am to tune out the voice of my beloved God and side instead with the enemy. It’s easier, y’know. It’s the way of the world to believe we have to struggle and beg and worry and fight. It’s the way of the world to be afraid and angry and depressed and hopeless. But God has more for us than that.
God has more for us.
I have to believe that. I don’t know what that looks like. I don’t know what I expect. But I trust God with my heart. He understands me so much better than I understand myself. He knows what will be best for me. I trust Him. I trust Him to show up.
That doesn’t mean I’m not going to sob in pillows or scream in my car sometimes. It doesn’t mean I’m not going to occasionally turn away from prayer and instead go to sleep or watch mindless television to cope with what I’m feeling. Life is hard. It just is.
But the beauty of that is, God understands. He will never say, “This will make you stronger. Buck up.” He will never minimize my pain.
It’s like a toddler throwing a fit about not being able to wear their favorite flip-flops when summer fades to autumn. They don’t understand and think their parent is just beign cruel, and honestly, from an adult perspective, their temper-tantrum is kind of eye-roll-worthy.
God easily could roll His eyes at me. He could say, “You don’t understand. Just trust me. Enough of your belly-aching.” But He doesn’t. He isn’t condescending, even though my infantile perspective makes me whiny at times.
Instead, He says, “You’re right. It does matter.” And then He reminds me of scripture. He comforts me with His word. And when His word fails to comfort because my mind isn’t ready to receive it, He is patient with me. “That’s okay,” He says. He’s not threatened, Truth is Truth and it doesn’t change. He will keep reminding me of it because one day it will stick and my perspective will become slightly less infantile.
And in the meantime, He wipes away my tears. They matter to Him.
He holds my hand when I’m scared. He encourages me and comforts me and promises to never, ever leave me. He reminds me I don’t have to be strong because He is.
He is there. Always, always, He is present.
Even when I’m sitting outside in 30-degree weather for 2 1/2 hours.