My prayer life is a lot like my running life.
Did I mention slow?
However, just like my running life, my consistency equals my expectation. In 2015, my year of “adventure,” I ran a half marathon 8 out of 12 months. I completed a full triathlon one month, and another month a really horrible marathon attempt.
You would have thought that I was fast. You would have thought that I was fit. The answer to both? No. Because of that key word: consistency. During that season, Jason and I were living at the affectionately named “tiny house experiment” while our newly purchased home was under flood reconstruction. I was beginning my first run with fertility treatments (and not handling the emotional roller-coaster well). And I was in a new position of leadership at my job that I thought would be a natural fit. So, to sum it up. I was lost. The rug was literally, figuratively, and spiritually pulled out from beneath me.
What do you do when you’re lost? You hit up your Google Maps app. That first map led me to Beth Moore’s devotion, Whispers of Hope. For probably the first time in my life, I made an appointment with God on a pretty-regular schedule and began seeking Him in a way that my entire life in Christ had taught me to seek Him, but my apathy always kept me from completing.
So, by the time 2016 rolled around and we were settled in our newly reconstructed home, my appetite continued for more direction. That adventure that I had been seeking transformed into a spiritual adventure that still continues. Even though 2016 was my year of “restoration,” it was also my year of non-fiction. That restoration was literal with our home, it was also spiritual with my soul. I am now calling that “year” a “season” of non-fiction since I’m still in it. In a lot of ways, I’m still lost. I’m still searching, still running slowly, painfully, desperately, towards the will of my Father.
I’ve learned so much about my Father in the last two years. He continues to show me that He is in the business of making sure we cross paths with the right things at the right time. Right now, those right “things” are people and books.
Have you ever read something and felt like it was written exclusively for you? You know, divine timing? Right now, everything feels that way to me. It’s like God is sitting in my Amazon prime recommendation feed, spiritually stocking my shelves for the answers to questions that are burdening my heart. God is whispering in the ears of those I love and who love me in return, them gifting texts that strike multiple cords within my heart. I have been feasting upon these works, devouring God ordained words, highlighting, underlining, and annotating all of these thoughts that feel like a conversation just for me, in this very season, from God himself.
And even though I am being abundantly fed, how am I in turn feeding others?
Two weeks ago, I received a text from a beloved former student, out of the blue. I just soak up those kinds of moments. Those kinds of text that surprise and delight at a single instant. It was just a picture of my scribbled handwriting, my brief thoughts of encouragement to her insider her yearbook. Clearly, I loved this for two reasons. One, it was a yearbook! Two, my words mattered. Then and now. Feeling the stress and uncertainty of college life, she reached out. She texted this quote to me that she said her mom had been sending to her for reassurance; “if you ever feel like God isn’t there, remember the teacher is always silent during the test.” Bam! Like a smack in the face. Here my beloved college kid was also mentoring me.
But you know what? I don’t always think God is silent. Sometimes I think He is so busy working on our lives and we are so buys thinking about our lives that we just don’t see Him in those moments. Case in point. I’ve been a teacher (in a lot of ways, I still am). I have given hundreds of tests over the last decade. Some self-created, some state standardized, or nationally accredited. Never did I ever once just sit and stare at my students. I couldn’t help them in those moments so starring at them wouldn’t do any good. Instead, what did I do? What all good teachers do (please note I said “good”). I worked during those moments of silence. I prepared lessons. I constructed assignments. I graded papers with authentic feedback. I worked on making their lives better. Why? Because they matter! Their lives matter! But did they see that? No. They again were so focused on the task in front of them they had no idea of the preparation that was going on for them.
In my mind, this is how God operates. God is constantly working on us, for us (without exhaustion I might add). He is planning, preparing, giving feedback. Yet, we His students, must be present and focused on Him in order to receive the lessons and life He desperately desires for us to have.
So, I have been mulling over this concept all week. This thought of God preparing behind the scenes in this giant Pinterest-decorated classroom of life. Us, His pupils, always in the midst of a lesson or an assessment.
With all this rolling around in my mind, on Monday morning I decided to go for a run. Again slow, long, painful, but spirit-filled. I love and loath running. The actual athleticism is brutally painful for me, especially after months of not-running. But the spiritual headspace is life-giving. Running is emotional. Nature. Sun rises. Lack of breath. It all feels so raw and vulnerable.
My former student came back into my mind. I want to pour into her all that I’m reading, all that I’m learning. I don’t want her to reach thirty-three and just now start seeing the bigger picture of God’s plan. I want her to experience it at twenty. But how can I do that from 177 miles away (I googled the distance). So, I decided that I’m going to go directly to the source. Instead of feebly attempting to replicate this knowledge, I’m sending her the primary source. I’m going to mail her a text that I just finished, with all my notes and annotations included. I’m going to pray over those words asking God our Father to speak to her as He has so clearly spoken to me.
I’m so excited about Monday’s mail-off. I love snail mail! I love hand written notes and letters. I love packages and surprises. So, why should this be just a one-person experience? Why can’t I mail out all of God’s words in my recently-read non-fiction feast? I totally can! And that’s exactly what I want to do.
Dear friends, if you are in a spot in life where you are directionally hitting that spiritual Google Map a little more often than you should, I want to ask you, what are you reading? What words from God are you allowing to penetrate your soul and guide you? If you’re answer is silent, then take a look. Select a text and let me pour into you what God has so richly and graciously poured into me.
Act fast because on Monday, His words are being mailed out.
I just have one request in return. Write in this text. Underline, highlight, and annotate it. And when you are done, mail it off to someone else whose life needs a little direction.
And if you just want a note of encouragement, message me for that too. You know I love snail mail. You know I love words. Let’s start a chain of love.
May this trend continue. May God’s words heal, restore, fill the silence, and provide divine timing.
The Big Bang Theory, Series 03 Episode 23 – The Lunar Excitation