For you will answer me;
Give ear to me
And hear my prayer.
Years ago, right after I gave my heart to the Lord, I began attending a rather small church here in Taos. We had a couple of interim pastors, but eventually a permanent pastor came to attend the church. He had the most adorable wife who remains in my memory as one of the sweetest women I have ever known. The pastor however, never did come to like our family.
After attending faithfully for seven years or so, giving large sums of money to support the small church, and getting involved in every activity they had, it was still apparent that the pastor didn't care for us - actually didn't care for me. As involved as I wanted to be, he never seemed to think I was converted enough to be involved. The funny thing was, I was the only one who ever offered.
Time went on and I attended, just happy to be there you might say. I was learning, studying and forming a very solid relationship with the Lord. The pastor took ill and went through a couple of years of real physical hardship.
One day, as I was going about, minding my own business, you might say, I got one of those small taps on the shoulder from God. It was like He said, "I want you to go over to his house and pray for Pastor ___."
"Really?" I asked rather audibly. "The man still doesn't know my name after 5 years, and there's only 30 of us in the church!"
I didn't like the thought of this AT ALL! So, being obstinant, I didn't do it. I ignored it and came up with every reason why I shouldn't go to his house and pray. These little tappings continued for the next year and a half. Finally, talking to my step son one day, he said, "Why don't you do it. Maybe God wants to teach you something."
That was a real wake up call for me, I thought Greg could actually be on to something, so without hesitation I picked up the phone and called his wife and asked if I could come over and pray. She immediately said yes and asked when. I replied, without thinking, and said, "NOW!"
I remember the drive over. I was so worried about how he would receive me, and frankly it was exactly as I thought. I knocked on the door and his words were, "What do you want here?"
I told him I wanted to pray for him and walked through the door. We sat on his couch, I prayed, hugged him and stood to leave; I had done what I came to do. He looked at me and said, "Well, I hope He heard your prayer."
I looked at Him, bewildered, actually. I said, "Of course He heard my prayer, He's God!"
O You who hear prayer
To You all men come...
I smiled, hugged him, hugged his wife and left. Whew! It actually took me a year or so to figure out why I was prompted to do that. He wasn't healed, he never changed his attitude about me, but something in my relationship with God changed. We got closer, He instructed me more, taught me, etc.. One day, out the clear blue, when I was asking why He had me pray for this man, I got the answer. It wasn't to help the pastor, per say, it was to prove my obedience to God. By working through something uncomfortable for me, because God asked me to, in doing it - I learned obedience is greater than discomfort. And obedience will see you through discomfort. How cool is that?
Yesterday, I was faced with this challenge, once again. For several months now I have been pleading with the Lord about wanting to be closer with Him than I have ever been. I guess it's been the past year actually. I have had small inclinations of things I need to give up in my life to be closer to Him. One by one I have been tackling these things, and some have been more than easy to give up. Like the ambien for instance. After my episode a month ago, I gave it up instantly. God, in his goodness, has filled my sleeplessness with His sleep. Man, I sleep like a baby, every single night!
A few days ago, during my bible study, I was thanking God for all He is teaching me. It's pretty awesome, but there is still that space that doesn't feel occupied by God, and I want my life to be filled with Him completely. So, I began praying, "Lord, I will give up anything, anything that occupy's my life that should not be there. Tell me what it is."
I got the answer, like a slap in the face, and I did not - DID NOT like it. So I did what I do best in times like these, and ignored it. But slowly, He began telling me what I needed to do - and slowly, I began to listen. We have so many things in our lives that fill our days, our thoughts, our emotions, our comings and goings. Sometimes they are things we hold onto, sometimes its habits, sometimes it people. I have a very short list of things to get rid of, and frankly, the stuff or things are no problem. The problem comes in giving up certain people in my life. These aren't people I have disdain for, they are people I love. But God continued to show me how not all people we love are healthy in our lives. Anyone who takes up our head space and heart space, which God could occupy, but we push him out for them - well, they have to go.
In my honest assessment of wanting a closer walk with God, I realized what I had to do. I had to break ties with a few people in my life. One, in particular, was really hurting me to have to do. But God, through His mercy, gave me the strength and gave the person a heart to understand what I was doing. In following through with this, my friend was supportive and understood.
Last night as I was praying, I told the Lord how much I would miss this person, and He said to me, "It's the one who leaves the biggest void in your life that gives Me the most room to occupy." I was blown away. I had to give up the one who was so important to me in order to give the Lord the space in my life He needed to work with me.
I woke this morning, rather anxious to see what God has to teach me, now that He has something to work with. I studied, I prayed and of course I asked for a date in my book Grace, to show me He was with me. He gave me November 18th. The title, It's Your Choice. The verse, If people want to follow me, they must give up the things they want. They must be willing even to give up their lives to follow me. Mark 8:34 I read this, and before I could close the book, tears were falling down my face. I know God loves me, I know He hears me, and now I know He alone occupies the void that just yesterday I questioned if it could be filled.