Learn Slow But Steadfast

I have no fear of drowning, it’s the breathing that’s taking all this work.
“Work” by Jars of Clay

I was laying in a bed around midnight but before I drifted off to sleep, I said a few little prayers. Those are often times my most honest conversations with the Lord. In fact, there are days I get down on my knees to pray before going to sleep and after the “Amen,” I climb in bed and that’s when the real praying begins. I confess to Him my desires, hoping that Psalm 145:19 is a promise I can count on. I’ve leaned on it in the past and God did not fail me, so I put a lot of hope in that being the case each time I cast my cares on Him. This particular midnight prayer came after attending the Chicago world premiere of “The Dilemma” starring Vince Vaughn, Kevin James, Jennifer Connelly, Winona Ryder and Channing Tatum.

Ticket to World Premiere of The Dilemma

There’s a scene in the movie where Vince Vaughn’s character has a honest conversation with God. He says something like this: I know I’m supposed to give you things, but I just can’t give you this.” I was surprised by the emotional scene in a movie that was marketed as a comedy. I could’ve been Vince Vaughn sitting on the bus bench in that scene. He was in the middle of a dilemma (is that surprising?) without a good solution to fix it. When he was at his lowest, he turned to God for help. I loved that. Returning to the hotel afterwards, I watched a little television, then went down for the night. As I prayed, I thought about the things that I’ve given over to the Lord, and the things I haven’t. What I’m holding with an open hand, and what I won’t let go of. I was compelled to raise an open hand as I laid there, to loosen the grip on what I think I have control over. But to open my hand, to let go, is to no longer have control. It’s living out of control.

I didn’t raise my hand that night. I’ve chosen to hold onto the snake that keeps biting me for another day. Maybe the venom won’t kill me. When will I trust Him enough to open a raised hand so he can put bread in it?

How long till suffering makes me steadfast?

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Flood, Pain and Prayer

It was the summer of 2010 and Nashville just experienced a 500-year flood that devastated houses and families.

There were many opportunities to get involved with the clean-up effort; through churches, charity efforts, and even places of employment encouraging employees to help by lending a hand in the hardest hit areas. The building where I work lost power for the entire week after the flood so once I caught up on my own long overdue yard work, I volunteered in neighborhoods needing assistance. At one house, I helped pull up soaking wet carpet. At another I helped with a washer/dryer extraction. One task was simply sweeping water out of a kitchen into the backyard. Joining in with some other folks, I helped take torn up drywall out to a trash pile near the street. At this house, we had two wheelbarrows, one with a flat tire. Some may say it’s because I’m awesome, others may say it’s because I’m double awesome, but I used the one with the flat tire, without gloves and pushed it up hill in the snow. That makes me a triple threat guy. Ok, I had gloves. And there was no hill. Or snow.

The wheelbarrow rolled well enough until the flat tire hit a hole in the ground and immediately came to a halt. The problem was that I kept walking. My shin was pierced by a screw from the wheelbarrow. Yes it hurt. Yes it bled. A friend nearby had a first aid kit and was more than willing to attend to my new wound. Here’s how it went down before she applied ointment:

Me: Is this going to hurt?
Her: Yes.
[pause]
[pause]
Me: Ok, go.
[cuss word]

In the few seconds between anticipation of pain and actual pain, I was able to prepare for what would happen next. And if it pleases the court, I’d like to make clear there was no cuss word, that was a joke.

That experience has finally served as a good example of how to handle the storm I’m currently in the middle of. This little storm started and I didn’t have time to prepare, just like my leg and the wheelbarrow. But as the rain falls and the thunder rolls, I’ve made time to seek shelter. If nothing else good comes from this storm, I can at least treasure the shelter and perhaps remember that the Lord loves me enough to carry my burden when all I can imagine happening is me crumbling. There will be resolution to this storm, the suffering will pass. It says so in the Bible: “And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast.” Either this statement is true, or none of the Bible is true. So I’m going to, again, take my chances that once the storm passes, it will still just be a storm. But me? I’ll be restored (which is enough) but then I’ll also be stronger, more firm, and more steadfast than ever before. That’s where I win and the storm loses. So when the next one comes, guess what my prayer will be?

Me: Is this going to hurt?
Lord: Yes.
[pause]
[pause]
Me: Ok, go.
[cuss word]
[just kidding]