Who Do You Think I Think God Is?

I am the first to admit that I don’t fully understand the concept of prayer. I do pray, and most of the time I feel better because I have prayed, but when I stop to consider what my praying implies about God, I am a combination of confused and embarrassed.

Do I really believe that the God who created the universe is not going to heal somebody or intervene in some situation or open some door of opportunity unless I ask God to do that? Or do I believe that God will allow a calamity to unfold unless a certain number of people beseech God to stop it? And if so, what is that number? At what point does the volume of prayer and the number of people praying about a particular matter reach “critical mass” so that God is required to respond by answering those prayers in the affirmative? Continue reading


Reflections On A Barren Soul

Over the past couple of days, after I acknowledged how close I have come to being completely overwhelmed by my circumstances and called on my friends to voice a prayer in my behalf, many have responded with a brief word of assurance that they are doing just that. I am so grateful.

Some have offered words of counsel and a few have suggested a specific pattern of behavior designed, I assume, to encourage me to take proactive steps to extract myself from this “slough of despond.” I truly believe that all this counsel and all these suggestions emerge out of the purest of motives and are shared by people of integrity and compassion. Again, I am grateful. Continue reading

Help My Unbelief

I was twenty-eight, serving as pastor of a small, rural congregation in upstate New York, about 40 miles southeast of Buffalo. I had preached a dozen or more funerals by that time in my ministry, but I had never lost anyone really close to me. Then on a snowy Monday night in January, the phone rang, and I learned that one of the elders in my church, a man who, in less than a year, had become as dear to me as any member of my own family, had been killed in an automobile crash. It was the first time in my life I had ever felt the exquisite pain of grief so intense I could barely breathe. The anguish I felt was almost physical. My heart ached, but though my faith faltered, ultimately I did not lose hope. Continue reading

Arthur’s After-Dinner Speech

There are some days when I almost regret having given Arthur Lough my cell phone number. When he called me last Tuesday to ask if I would like to attend the annual dinner of our local ministerium, at which he was to be the featured speaker, I thought that might After dinner crowdbe one of those days. Turns out I was very, very wrong.

“How long have you known about this gig?” I asked him, before I responded to his request.

“They just called me about an hour ago,” he said. “Their scheduled speaker has fallen ill, and they are desperate for somebody to fill in. I think I was the third or fourth call they’ve made. Nobody is willing to take the assignment on such short notice.”

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Quickly, Before I Change My Mind

Robt. L. StevensonOne Sunday in 1875, when he was twenty-four, Robert Louis Stevenson, the Scottish author of such classics as Treasure Island and Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde, wrote a note to a friend of his in which he said, “I have been to church and am not depressed—a great step.”

In a similar vein, I could write, for you my loyal readers who have persevered with me through some grim seasons over the past few years, “I awoke this morning, reflected on my life situation, and for the first time in many a day, I was not disheartened.”

Continue reading

I Heard The Voice Of God

Last Friday I published a blog post in which I announced that the Bishop of my diocese had granted my request to be released from my ordination vows. Although I remain, technically, a priest in God’s One, Holy, Catholic (i.e. “universal”), and Apostolic Church, I have been “laicized.” That is, I can no longer carry out sacramental duties—such as celebrating Eucharist—in any church which is part of the Anglican Church in North America.

I will, most likely, be saying more about the events and circumstances which produced this result, but not today. Today I want to share with you something of inestimable value which I came to appreciate more deeply as a result of this recent experience. God has blessed me with something so incredibly precious that I simply cannot keep it to myself.

I’m talking about friends, but not just any friends. Friends who know God and allow themselves to be the channel for a word from God to me. Friends through whom I hear the voice of God.

Continue reading

A Desperate Plea And Bobby McGee

Have you ever been so discouraged about your circumstances that you went to bed thinking, “Maybe this will be the night when my sleep apnea kills me”? I was almost there last night. Disheartened when I went to sleep and disappointed when I awoke, or even that I awoke.

Don’t say it could never happen to you, that you could never become so despondent. I didn’t think it could happen to me either, but that was before I was fired from a job I loved because of the church I attended (or, more precisely, because of the church I didn’t attend). That was before I started my seventh decade of life already unemployed for two years, and now two more years have passed, and things have not really changed. That was before I spent two years and many thousands of dollars preparing for Holy Orders, only to conclude that there may very well be no place for me to serve in this new communion to which I have been drawn, to which I thought I had been led.

At 6:00 this morning, the last thing I wanted to do was Morning Prayers. Fortunately for me, the liturgical tradition (and this is one reason I love it so much) does not require a supplicant to achieve or exhibit any particular frame of mind or physical posture as a precondition for praying. So I fumbled around for my glasses, propped my not-yet-truly-awake body against a pile of pillows, and opened my Franciscan prayer book to the page appointed for this day, the Tuesday following the eleventh Sunday after Pentecost. And this is the first thing I read.

Blessed are You, sovereign God of all. To You be praise and glory forever. In your tender compassion, the dawn from on high is breaking upon us to dispel the lingering shadows of night. As we look for Your coming among us this day, open our eyes to behold Your presence, and strengthen our hands to do Your will, that the world may rejoice and give You praise.

That prayer had the effect of a glass of cold water in the face. I read it… no, I fervently prayed it… three more times. And each time I sensed the presence of God more personally and more real.

Next I moved on to the psalm for the day, Psalm 123, and I read (and prayed) these words.

To you I lift up my eyes,
O you who are enthroned in the heavens!
Behold, as the eyes of servants
look to the hand of their master,
as the eyes of a maidservant
to the hand of her mistress,
so our eyes look to the Lord our God,
till he has mercy upon us.

Have mercy upon us, O Lord, have mercy upon us,
    for we have had more than enough of contempt.
Our soul has had more than enough
    of the scorn of those who are at ease,
    of the contempt of the proud.

That psalm was followed by this prayer.

Sovereign God, enthroned in the heavens, look upon us with Your eyes of mercy, as we look upon You with humility and love, and fill our souls with Your peace; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

By this time, although no rules required it, I was on the floor with my face in the rug, fairly pleading with God. I prayed those words over and over. Fill my soul with Your peace. Look upon me with your eyes of mercy.

And then I closed the prayer book, veered away from the set prayer (although I had never prayed a more earnest prayer in my life), and began to improvise. No poetry. No flowery rhetoric. Just a simple prayer, but offered with an urgency akin to that of Peter when he found himself sinking in the waters of the Sea of Galilee: Lord, save me!

Lord, save me! I’m going under. I’m tired, I’m discouraged, and I’ve lost hope. Do something to let me know You are still there. Say something. Anything. Just please give me some sign that You have not abandoned me.

And He did. Perhaps the most immediate answer to any prayer I have ever prayed. He parted the clouds and loosed the bands that had fettered my spirit. My mind began to reel with possibilities where it had been stymied by the weight of my circumstances.

He reminded me that “all truth is God’s truth.” He assured me that He could use a wide variety of instruments to speak to me, in answer to my prayer, and He did. I’ll mention just two of them.

First, Wayne Dyer, known to PBS audiences as a dispenser of New Age wisdom who draws upon a syncretistic blend of resources as disparate as Taoism and the New Testament. Wayne Dyer would not normally be a source to whom I would turn to hear a word from God, but this morning God brought him to my mind. Or rather, He reminded me of something I had once heard Wayne Dyer say. And that was, “Don’t die with your music still in you.”

He made that comment, if I recall, just after he had summarized the story told by Leo Tolstoy in his classic tale, The Death of Ivan Ilyich. Near the end of his life, on his death bed in fact, Tolstoy’s protagonist, almost blinded by pain, cries out, “What if my whole life has been wrong?” Wayne Dyer allowed as how, from the moment he read that story, he determined that his life would not be lived wrongly, that he would not die with his music still in him.

Think what you will of Wayne Dyer and his philosophy of life, but that concept is a genuine truth. Nobody, least of all a Christian, should live life in a way that we die with our “music” still in us. I needed to hear that this morning, and God brought it to my recollection in response to my earnest plea for some evidence of His presence with me.

Second, Kris Kristofferson. Specifically, his great song, “Me and Bobby McGee” in which the refrain begins with the line, “Freedom’s just another word for nothin’ left to lose.” I heard God speaking to me in that line. He seemed to say, “You’ve got some music in you that you need to let out. You’ve got some truth in you which I’ve been teaching you over the past few years, and you need to share it. It probably won’t go down well with everybody who reads it or hears it, but what do you have to lose? You won’t be free until you share what I have given you to share.”

Or, to quote Wayne Dyer, “Don’t die with your music still in you.”

And so, through Wayne Dyer and Kris Kristofferson, I heard the voice of Jesus speaking to me today. In answer to my prayer. He touched me in my hour of need. And, if I am faithful, he may touch you through what I have to say, in this blog and through other channels, in the days ahead. Stay tuned.

Thank you, Lord, for answering my desperate prayer. Now, please help me to share, lovingly but boldly, the truth that You have implanted in me. Please don’t let me die with my music still in me. Amen.

My Prayer For You

It’s amazing how much it is possible to discern about the relationship between two people simply by listening to one side of a cell-phone conversation. Within a matter of a few sentences we can tell if the parties are friends or perhaps something more. We can tell if the relationship is strained or formal or hostile. We can tell if the parties know each other well, or if it is a conversation between people who have seldom, if ever, spoken to each other before.

The same thing is true of prayer. You can learn a lot about a person’s relationship with God by listening to him, or her, pray.

When I was pastor of a small, rural church near Buffalo, NY, just after my graduation from college, I led a Bible study on Saturday mornings which all the men of the church were invited to attend. Archie was a gruff old guy who surprised everybody by showing up at these Saturday sessions every week. He was very shy, something of a loner, but when I looked into his eyes, I sensed there was a depth of spiritual reality in him which didn’t often make it to the surface.

Several times I asked him if I could call on him to lead in prayer at the beginning of the meeting, and each time he declined. Every week, the session ended with an open, unstructured time of prayer, during which the men could (and did) pray publicly as they felt led. Archie, of course, sat quietly and never said a word.

Until about the fourth meeting. That morning, after a few men had led out in prayer, we heard a voice that was so unfamiliar in that setting that a few of us looked up to see if our ears had deceived us. They had not. Archie was praying, and as my Grandfather might have said, “that was the prayin’-est prayer you ever heard.” By the time he finished his prayer, with tears streaming down his face and ours, everybody in that room knew one thing for sure—Archie was a man who really knew the Lord. It had been a great privilege for the rest of us to be allowed to eavesdrop on Archie’s conversation with God.

The portion of New Testament scripture found in Ephesians 3:14-21 allows us to “eavesdrop” on the Apostle Paul as he prays, while under house arrest in Rome, for Christians in Asia Minor, many of whom had probably come to faith as a result of his preaching and teaching ministry.

The prayer in chapter three is actually the second prayer that Paul includes in the text of this letter to the believers in and around Ephesus. The first comes toward the end of chapter one, and there Paul prays for an increase in their knowledge. That prayer is then followed, in chapter two and the first part of three, by some of the most powerful and profound teaching in the New Testament on the nature of salvation—by grace, through faith—and the unity which is supposed to characterize those who have experienced God’s saving grace.

From the beginning of chapter four through the end of the letter, Paul will devote his attention to practical instructions about how these believers should apply this profound spiritual truth to their daily lives. Before he gets to that, however, he prays for them once again.

16 I pray that out of (the Father’s) glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, 17 so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, 18 may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, 19 and to know this love that surpasses knowledge —that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.

In chapter one he prayed for their knowledge to be increased. In chapter three he prays for an increase in their spiritual power and in their experience of God’s love so that they can be filled up (i.e. totally controlled) by the fullness of God.

Over the course of forty years of vocational ministry, I have been interviewed by search committees, who were considering me as a possible candidate for pastoral ministry, at least six or eight times. I have been asked a lot of questions… some pertinent, some probing, and some just plain intrusive. But there is one question I have never been asked by a search committee. “If you were called to be our pastor, how would you pray for us?”

If I ever go before another search committee, and if, perchance, they should ask me a question like that, here’s what I will say. “I will pray for you the way Paul prayed for these Christians in Ephesians, chapter three.”  And what I would pray on behalf of that congregation, I pray on behalf of everybody reading this blog post. And I pray the same thing for myself as well.

First of all, I pray that God would strengthen us with power through His Spirit in our inner being. I would pray that He would strengthen our intellect, so that we can comprehend more of His truth. I would pray that He would strengthen our emotions, so that we wouldn’t be overcome by doubt and discouragement. And I would pray that He would strengthen our will, so that we could make good decisions and right choices.

Second, I pray that Christ would dwell in our hearts by faith. That is, not that we would have an initial encounter with God in saving faith. We’ve had that. This is a prayer that Jesus Christ our Lord would feel at home in our lives and would relate to us like a member of the family and not like a guest who drops by, from time to time, for a visit.

Third, I pray that we all would come to grasp (or comprehend) the breadth and length and height and depth of the love of Christ, and to know (by actual life-changing experience) this love that surpasses mere intellectual awareness (and must be experienced in order to be understood).

The love of Christ is broad enough to encompass all of humanity; long enough to last for eternity; deep enough to reach out to the most degraded and self-loathing sinner; and high enough to lift that sinner out of the depths of despair and hopelessness and into the very presence of God.

And Paul prays that we would not only come to comprehend the truth about the immeasurable character of God’s love. He also prays that we would come to know it… and the word he uses there is a word that means to know by actual experience. It’s the difference between knowing that it is raining because we heard it on the TV weather report and knowing that it is raining because we walked outside and got wet!

That distinction is crucial for citizens of the Kingdom of God who genuinely want to be conduits of the love of God into our culture. We’ll never be able to love people with the love of God until we understand, both in our minds and in our experience, how intensely God, in the sacrifice of His Son, has loved us.

And fourth, I pray that we would all be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. Actually, that’s not a separate request in Paul’s prayer. It’s the ultimate goal or purpose for which he has come into the presence of God on behalf of these believers. And it is the pinnacle of my prayer for you, as well… and for myself. This is the goal toward which all the other requests have been moving.

Every once in a while we need to ask ourselves: “How much do I require to provide fulfillment and satisfaction in my life besides God alone.”

What Paul is describing in Ephesians 3:14-19 is essential Christianity. And what drove him to pray this kind of prayer was a deep, consuming desire to see these Christians, his “spiritual children,” go to the well of God’s grace and drink, deeply and regularly, of living water. Further, he was convinced that, if they did, the benefits would be indescribable, beyond anything he, or we, could ask or even imagine. In fact, that is precisely what he said in the glorious doxology with which he closes his prayer in verses 20-21.

20 Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, 21 to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.

This was Paul’s prayer for the Ephesian Christians. It is my prayer for you.

Some Thoughts After Aurora

Amazingly, I didn’t learn of the tragic shooting in that Aurora, CO, movie theater until Friday afternoon, nearly eighteen hours after the fact. I know it seems implausible in this era of instant and constant barrage by electronic media, but there are some days when I am able to avoid the pollution that comes from exposure to the news media until late in the day. Last Friday was one of those days.

Around 5:30 p.m., I was getting my haircut, and, of course, Aurora was the main topic of conversation in the shop. I nodded my head like I knew what everybody was talking about, but I didn’t get the details until I asked my wife, over dinner, just what was going on. I have been in a downward emotional spiral ever since.

I don’t know why this event has affected me so deeply. I didn’t know any of the victims. I’ve never been to Aurora. For some reason, however, I have been on the verge of tears every time it has come to my attention over the past four days. I was a guest in the home of some dear friends over the weekend, and I am so thankful that we didn’t have to focus on that horrible event unduly. I was there to preach and celebrate Holy Communion in their church, and for a variety of other reasons, that assignment was difficult enough. To have been forced to discuss the Aurora tragedy would have been almost debilitating.

I didn’t post anything on Facebook between Saturday morning and Monday afternoon. When I returned home from Pennsylvania, however, I decided to catch up with my FB friends. I was immediately stunned by what I read.

Post after post used the Aurora shootings either to illustrate the writer’s belief that America had squandered its unique position of favor with God and was suffering the consequences of apostasy and the judgment of God or to warn of the threat to democracy and freedom that would ensue if we allowed an event like this to serve as a catalyst to bring about stricter gun-control laws in the US.

I felt heartsick. Where was the compassion for the victims? Where was evidence that we knew of the New Testament instruction to “weep with those who weep”? Maybe that kind of post appeared on Saturday and Sunday, and I missed them. But even by Monday it still seemed far too soon to be using that horrific event in a doomsday sermon or to bolster a political argument.

Even now it is too soon to be analyzing and dissecting the factors which contributed to that event and the immeasurably heartbreaking consequences of it. It is still the time to mourn—for the victims and their families, for the city of Aurora, for a society where such behavior can occur without provocation or where the signs that it might be possible can escape the awareness of the community. The gunman was truly a sick and disturbed man. Was he, IS he, the embodiment of evil? I don’t know. I do know that what he did was evil, and the pain and anguish which he inflicted on so many people will remain with them the rest of their lives. That should bring us all to tears.

I was particularly disturbed by the post of one of my FB friends which exploited this painful situation to advocate for his opposition to gun-control. His post was a list of nations who had confiscated personal firearms and, shortly thereafter, had rounded up political dissidents, now unarmed and unable to defend themselves, and killed them all. I found the posting not only flawed logic but also callous, insensitive, and manipulative. All the more so since it was posted by one who purports to follow Jesus, the Prince of Peace.

At times like this, the sensibilities which were cultivated in me over a quarter-century of ministry among Anabaptists—concerns for peace, justice, loving compassion—come to the surface, and I am glad they are there. This is not a time for condemnatory preaching nor for political advocacy. This is a time to weep with those who weep and pray for those who have suffered, and are suffering, such pain and loss (including the family of the shooter).

There will be time to raise the question about why the American Christian community, which is so numerous and so vocal, is so singularly ineffective when it comes to being salt and light in the culture. For today, however, it is enough to pray and seek God’s face. Lord, have mercy.

More Than You Might Imagine (Part Two)

There are so-called Bible scholars who want us to believe that the Gospels were written by the early church some 200 years or more after the death of Jesus, and that they should not be read as historical accounts of events that actually happened. According to this view, the Gospel writers never intended that the stories about Jesus would be taken literally. The point of the stories was to deepen our appreciation for Jesus the Teacher, in much the same way that the story of St. Patrick driving the snakes out of Ireland enhances his reputation as a devout and effective Christian evangelist.

If I was ever tempted to read the Gospels that way—and I never have been—there is enough evidence in these seven short verses from Mark 4:35-41 to prove the error of that view.

For instance, consider some of the unnecessary details that do nothing to advance the point of the story, but do give it the “ring of truth,” since they are the kind of information you would expect from an eyewitness (and we believe the Gospel of Mark is essentially Mark’s record of Peter’s recollections).

  • in verse 36, the reference to “the other boats”
  • in verse 38, the reference to Jesus “sleeping on a cushion
  • and most telling of all, the fact that the writer makes no attempt to have these disciples appear noble or brave or even consistent.

These men feared the storm would swamp their boat, and they would drown. What did they expect Jesus to do about it? Commiserate with them? Assure them that He really did care about their situation, and lead them in singing “Nearer, My God, To Thee” as the ship sank?

No, apparently they believed that the man who had performed the miracles which they had observed with their own eyes could do something miraculous to keep them from dying.

And He does. He speaks—two words in Greek, three words in English—and the storm is over. And the disciples, who had asked Him to do something, are amazed and terrified when He does. Somehow I think that, if this were a story made up by the church, it wouldn’t end like that.

So… what is it about what Jesus does that causes His disciples to respond as they do? I think the key is in the sentence: Then the wind died down, and it was completely calm. Here’s what Timothy Keller writes about this:

Jesus spoke to the storm as you would talk to an unruly child. (But) the more astonishing thing is that the storm obeyed like a compliant child. “Then the wind died down, and it was completely calm.” That sounds like redundancy until you realize that Mark is talking first about the wind and then about the water.

“Completely calm” could be translated “dead calm.” Have you ever seen water that is smooth as glass, no waves at all? You can see your face in it. When the winds stopped after Jesus’s rebuke, that could have been a coincidence. But if you’ve ever gone on an ocean cruise or lived on the shore, you know that even when the winds stop and the storm ends, the waves keep pounding for hours afterward. Yet when Jesus said, “Quiet! Be Still!” not only did the winds die down, but the water instantly went dead calm.

That’s what “terrified” the disciples. They called on Jesus to help them, to exercise His power in their behalf, and He did. But He did so much more than He really had to do… so much more than they were expecting.

They would have been happy if the storm had subsided just enough to keep the water from pouring into their boat. All they really wanted was for Jesus to do enough to keep the boat from sinking. But no. Jesus didn’t stop there. He did so very much more. More than was strictly necessary. More than they had really asked Him to do. More, even, than they had any reason to expect.

And why not? After all, He was God. And here is what Paul says about God, in his letter to the Ephesians, chapter 3.

20 Now to him (God the Father) who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, 21 to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.

That’s what God is able to do… “immeasurably more than all we ask or (even) imagine.” And Paul wasn’t just blowing smoke when he wrote those words. He had evidence.

Back in Exodus 14, as Moses led the Children of Israel out of 400 years of bondage in Egypt, they came to the Red Sea, and it appeared that was the end of the road. But then God stepped in, sent a mighty wind, and opened a path through the water. The Israelites were so happy they now had a way of escaping Pharaoh’s army, they would no doubt have been willing to slog through mud up to their knees. But here’s what the text tells us:

21 Then Moses stretched out his hand over the sea, and all that night the Lord drove the sea back with a strong east wind and turned it into dry land. The waters were divided, 22 and the Israelites went through the sea on dry ground, with a wall of water on their right and on their left.

Then, remember the story of Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah… better known to us, perhaps, by their Babylonian names—Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. Three young Israelite men who had been taken captive by Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon. The king insisted that they renounce the true God and worship a golden idol that he had made. The boys refused, and the king had them thrown into a super-heated furnace.

Once again, these guys would have been thrilled to escape with their lives… maybe with their eyebrows singed or even a few minor burns here and there. But again, here is what the text says in Daniel 3.

24 Then King Nebuchadnezzar leaped to his feet in amazement and asked his advisers, “Weren’t there three men that we tied up and threw into the fire?”

They replied, “Certainly, Your Majesty.”

25 He said, “Look! I see four men walking around in the fire, unbound and unharmed, and the fourth looks like a son of the gods.”

26 Nebuchadnezzar then approached the opening of the blazing furnace and shouted, “Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, servants of the Most High God, come out! Come here!”

So Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego came out of the fire, 27 and the… royal advisers crowded around them. They saw that the fire had not harmed their bodies, nor was a hair of their heads singed; their robes were not scorched, and there was no smell of fire on them.

And finally, remember the story about Jesus feeding the multitude… the only miracle recorded in all four of the Gospels. The crowd had been so caught up in Jesus’ teaching that, as evening approached, they realized they had not eaten all day, and Jesus’ disciples were concerned. They asked Him to send the people home, but Jesus told them to give the people some food. The disciples said they couldn’t do that because it would cost too much. So Jesus took a boy’s lunch of five small loaves of bread and two fish and caused it to multiply so that everybody in the crowd could have something to eat.

Again, they would likely have been happy with a snack… just enough to take the edge off their hunger so that they could continue to listen to Jesus teach. But again, here’s what the text says in Mark 6.

39 Then Jesus directed them to have all the people sit down in groups on the green grass. 40 So they sat down in groups of hundreds and fifties. 41 Taking the five loaves and the two fish and looking up to heaven, he gave thanks and broke the loaves. Then he gave them to his disciples to distribute to the people. He also divided the two fish among them all. 42 They all ate and were satisfied, 43 and the disciples picked up twelve basketfuls of broken pieces of bread and fish. 44 The number of the men who had eaten was five thousand.

In every one of these cases, God did more than the people involved could even have imagined. So, the question is not, “Does God have enough power to do something in my situation that will meet my need and prove to me that I have no reason to be afraid?” Of course He does. He has enough power, in every situation, to do immeasurably more than we can ask or (even) imagine.

So that leaves us with one unavoidable conclusion. If God does not respond to our repeated cries for help… if He doesn’t step into our situation and calm the storm… or provide a job… or heal the disease… or tear down the obstacles that are preventing us from making “progress”… it must be that He simply chooses not to. It must be that, in His infinite wisdom, He has determined that, in this situation, for the time being, it is better for us to wait.

I’m going to close this blog post with a prayer. The words of this prayer were written by a man named Ken Gire. Even though I didn’t  write it, it says what I want to say to God today, and I hope it will voice your prayer, as well.

Dear Master of the Wind and Waves,

When the sudden storms of life come crashing over us with their fierce winds and frothing waves, please help us. We have seen enough storms, Lord, to know how quickly peaceful circumstances can turn into catastrophe.

We have seen the strong become weak with disease. We have seen the freest of spirits become enslaved with addiction. We have seen the brightest of stars fall like meteors in a streak of dying fame. We have seen respected preachers and politicians disgraced to become the laughingstock of the land.

We have seen riches evaporate overnight and jobs vanish into thin air. We have seen the faithful lose faith. We have seen happy marriages with hopeful beginnings end up on the rocks of infidelity. And we have seen prodigals blown off course to sink in a sea of sin.

Yes, Lord, we have seen a lot of storms. Too many of other people’s to think they can’t touch us. To many of our own to feel critical or proud or unsympathetic.

Lord, some of us are going through some tempestuous times right now. Help us to see You in the midst of the storms—You who rule the wind and the waves with only a word.

And help us to see that, no matter how devastating the storm that sweeps over us, You do care if we drown. Help us not to be hasty in judging Your concern for us during those times when our lives seem to be sinking and You seem to be asleep in the stern.

Help us to see that You allow storms in our lives to strengthen us, not to shipwreck us. And help us to see that it is You who not only point out the direction our lives should take but who ride with us to hasten our safe passage.

Thank you, Lord Jesus, for being there during our individual storms. And when uncertain seas unsettle our faith, turn our attention to You so that the tempest in our souls might be quieted and made still.