I call to remembrance my song in the night: I commune with mine own heart: and my spirit made diligent search. Will the Lord cast off for ever? and will He be favourable no more? Psalm 77:6-7
Sometimes it does feel like God does tarry a very, very long time before addressing my prayers and hopes. My good prayers, my heartfelt prayers. And nothing. And the night seems long.
And then. Sometimes there are these smashing breakthroughs which shift paradigms.
I was thinking today about a Thursday a very long time ago. I think it was eight years ago that in the late afternoon a kid from the high school sort of staggered into my seventh grade classroom; I was stapling up water poems as I recall.
“You have to pray for me, Mrs. Voelkel.”
So I prayed for him every Thursday, for eight years: May your Spirit sweep over him in love and peace and truth. For eight years.
And just about a week ago, he was sitting in some service and this guy walked in. “The Prophet,” whispered his neighbor, “The Prophet is here.” The Prophet walked up to my friend and poked a figurative finger towards him, detailing the errors of his way, and told him to be a man of noble character and examine the Scriptures every day.
And now he examines the Scriptures every day in love and peace and truth. And with a great, profound joy. And beauty.
Each time I read now I set a timer for 10 minutes. I ask that God removes all the garbage, the filth, the uselessness and noise that permeates my being. I sit and try not to move or think for 10 minutes. I am only allowed to breathe the God, in and out: YAHWEH. And it's not very easy. My mind lashes out. I can feel it squirming in the quiet. Trying to wrap itself around another problem or task to stay active. The poor thing has never learned how to shut up.
"Be still and know that I am God" Psalm 46:10
And sometimes God doesn’t wait eight years. Sometimes he answers before the words are barely out of our mouth. Like with Abraham’s servant. I remember one of those times, oh yeah, one of those many times, when the truck broke down alongside of a basically abandoned highway in Mexico. And we had been sitting there, me and the little girls for more than an hour, by the side of the road, waiting for anything to come and help. And we played silly songs and games and were really, really tired and ready to be rescued. And finally five-year-old Nicole announced, “I am going to pray.” And she prayed. Because she was hungry, she prayed that we would be rescued by a potato chip truck. And as we unfolded our hands, and lifted our heads and opened our eyes, what should we see come around the bend but a potato chip truck. True story.
As I sat on the couch Sunday at Heather and Dustin’s very fun baby shower, holding James and Leona’s Otto, marveling at the passage of time, I told another story to someone. The story about Heather and Dustin moving back to Tucson from New Orleans. Sometimes those answers to prayer are not so mundane. Heather was in screaming pain. A fungus had eaten its way through her retina and we were hoping that it wouldn’t keep chomping to her brain. She needed three kinds of drops, every hour on the hour. And Dustin took care of her all day, and I remember sleeping on the floor by the couch and every hour on the hour I would put these burning fire drops in and through the tears Heather would always say, “Thank you,” which pierced my mommy’s heart. Mostly as we stared at her solid white eyeball we were glad that her other eye seemed to be healthy and seeing.
So Heather and Dustin were reasonably readjusting all of their life plans and he started teaching PE at Wildcat instead of applying to law school, and such is life. And we were hanging around after church one Sunday, like we always do, and Cindy Alderink asked me, “So have you had the elders pray for Heather?” I might have rolled my eyes. Really. We are the Voelkels, with the big gun prayer warriors in our blood. The elders? Really?
So Cindy gathered together the remaining elders who hadn’t yet taken off for after-church Mexican food, and they pulled out the bottle of anointing oil and encircled Heather and laid hands on her, just like ol’ James tells us to do, and that was that.
And the next morning, Heather Blue Eyes woke up with two perfectly healthy blue eyes, and in fact, her vision was better than it had been before the sickness. She was well. Just like that. We all saw it. And now it is a story to remind me, to meditate upon, and to consider.
Slowly, bit by bit, I am understanding that He is not bound by time, that He moves in and out of our tick tock moments like the wind. And if You are Eternal, forever in both directions, time, which weighs so heavily on our minds, our most valuable commodity, is not a consideration. A thousand years is but a moment. Really.
I will meditate also upon all Your works and consider all Your mighty deeds.