Category Archives: help

Chatter

Dear God,

Where are you? I travelled halfway around the world in both directions to get some time together. But it’s like there’s been too much chatter, or static, or I don’t know. Landscapes take my breath away in ways I wasn’t expecting. Lifelong longings make me goofy and giddy as they become reality and a photo op. But why can’t I find you? I said I wanted that, needed that, expected that, hoped for that most of all – to find you. I know you are here. I don’t doubt it one bit. But why can’t I feel you? Why can’t I hear you? I have been quiet and waiting. Please, we are running out of time. Come into the quiet, come into the chatter – boom or whisper or just overwhelm my senses in a way I won’t be able to describe. Please don’t let this chance pass us by. 

Amen. 

Oceans 

Dear God,

I have never been south of the equator. And I have never flown over any part of the Pacific Ocean. So, this is kind of a big deal for me and your Creation, today, God, as the plane descends into Sydney. 

When we first got on the plane, I looked up at the flight status map that shows your location and realized there would be hours and hours flying over 500mph over only dark ocean on that screen. And I asked Rachel if she knew the Hillsong song “Oceans,” which suddenly felt super pertinent. Not just for the Pacific and not just for the fact Hillsong is from Australia, but because yesterday’s news had me wondering how I can do Ministry with a people so divided. 

The airport in LA had tv screens full of protestors in the US upset about the election, burning Trump in effigy, and news of places around the world bracing for what this means for the world. For my own part, God, you know my heart. You know what I long for when it comes to my own nation and the world. You know how that’s been a passion for so long. You know how it is written into my very body. You know also my deep desire and idealism that longs for unity and the ability to disagree and embrace each other not in spite of difference but because of it. 

So, having just touched down in the plane on land again after crossing the biggest ocean in your Creation, let me say that no matter what happens,

“I will call upon your name/ and keep my eyes above the waves./ When oceans rise,/ my soul will rest in your embrace/ for I am Yours and You are mine.

“Spirit, lead me where my trust is without borders./ Let me walk upon the waters/ wherever You would call me./ Take me deeper than my feet could ever wander,/ and my faith will be made stronger/ in the presence of my Savior.”

I’ve crossed one ocean. A big one. What’s next in the adventure?

Amen. 

Early Mornings, Sunday Mornings

Dear God,

As you know, I’m not much of a morning person. It’s not that I don’t enjoy the morning in one sense – the freshness of the day is a wonder to behold. I just wind up staying up so late enjoying the evening. I’ve always loved the stars, and I get such little time to wonder at them (in many ways).

So it is funny to me – is it funny to you? – that Sunday mornings, no matter how late I stayed up, I am almost always up by 5am thinking about the people, the words I will say and pray and preach, the work God is already doing. It’s such holy time for me.

Could this be a piece of other mornings, too? Would you wake me so we can share this time together? I mean, maybe not 5am every day when so often I’m up til 1… but I guess maybe I’m praying a request for help, for intervention. Help me to sleep and help me to wake in ways that open up more holy time like this with you.

Amen.

So no one told you life was gonna be this way…

Dear God,

A person on my retreat just led a time of meditation speaking from your perspective. She said, “I want a relationship with you. I would be so thrilled to have you give to me the same time and energy and love that you give to your friends,” or something along those lines.

It really has me wondering.

I thought about how in scripture we hear about idols and are warned not to worship them. We are shown how meaningless and helpless idols are, how destructive they can be when we center our lives on them instead of you. So the commandments about you and idols are to help us, right? Not just to restrict us or to bind us.

Usually, it seems in the modern context we translate this idea of idols into things that go beyond statues and golden calves to things like money, sports, perfection, power, beauty, good grades, etc. I have never thought that friends could be called an idol. And while I’m sure that this is not what was meant by tonight’s comment, as soon as I thought it I realized how true it could be. Especially to a people pleaser. We who need our friends to like us and approve of us and affirm us can spend so much time devoted to others, practically worshipping their thoughts and opinions. God, help me never to place another’s opinion and approval over yours. God, help me.

But God, I realized something else. I’m not sure you would want me to give you the time an attention that I give to my friends and I don’t just mean because you are more than friend, you are GOD for crying out loud. I feel terrible and embarrassed to admit that I don’t think I’m a very good friend.

I used to be a great friend. I used to get my friends little thoughtful treats. I used to send them little messages online or by text. I used to send real mail. That I made the envelopes myself to send it in! With little trinkets or personalized clippings from magazines or something! But I think when I lost myself last year in depression and overwhelming loneliness and deep waters of disappointment with myself, I never recovered the part of myself that was a good friend. I’ve been working so hard on trying to find myself again in one very particular way that I guess I forgot that part of who I used to be was thoughtful and generous and loving and supportive to my friends.

What happened to me, God?
Who am I?
Am I still that friend?
Have I put on a new self who cannot be that friend? Or just not yet?

I want to find that part of me again. I want to find that part of me again that reminds me most of you. And I wouldn’t be ashamed to love you that way and more. God, help me to find myself, to find the self in me that is the seed of you which you planted so long ago. Help me to be generous, loving, attentive to my friends.

At some point life and busy and work, which is good work but still work, and distance and sickness and new things and funerals and self-centeredness and self-pity and more than even I know but that you know have pulled me inside myself, inside a shell that keeps
me from seeing anything other than me. I haven’t been there for my friends. And while I know that part if why is because I’ve been trying to be there for strangers, to make strangers feel like friends, but I think my friends deserve care and companionship that I have not been there to give them. And not just because of distance between us. You never let distance keep you from us. Even when we try to create distance between ourselves and you!

Draw me out of myself, God, and nearer to you. Help me to love as you love. Help me to be generous as you are generous. Help me to listen as you listen. Help me to reach out and pursue my friends the way you pursue all your children. God, help me to do all this and more in my life with you. I’ll be there for you.

Amen.

Tagged , , , , ,

Fog

Dear God,

Help me get through this day.  I cannot see the way forward clearly at all.  Don’t worry, I’m not turning around, but you’re going to have to guide me, okay?

Amen.

Overwhelmed

Dear God,

I know I gripe a lot.  You’re probably really tired of hearing me tell work stories lately, especially since I’m supposedly doing “your work”.  I feel like you must be pretty tired of hearing people call so much pithy and relatively pointless stuff your work and your will.

You’re probably going to roll your eyes at this one, but I was watching a movie tonight.  Alone.  At my house which is a mess (though the floors are really clean).  Sitting on my butt.  Doing nothing to help people have a better life and know your love.

And for some strange reason, while reading facebook status updates about General Conference and people making decisions about “your church” hundreds of miles away, I got really overwhelmed.  With life.  Even though nothing has really happened yet at GC and probably very little will happen that can truly count as your will being done (I have a feeling you don’t really give a crap about Robert’s Rules of Order when there are children dying everywhere tonight).

I don’t know.  That dumb movie.  It’s not the first time, you know that.  I pretty much decided to study history in college because of a fictional movie about a piece of WWII that I knew nothing about prior to watching.  It was a love story, and I felt a shift in my heart and mind about the world for some reason.  And I got a degree.

But tonight, I don’t know.  That dumb movie.  It wasn’t as good as the book (I’m sure you know that and you sort of think that on a macrocosmic level all the time).  But I’m sitting on my bed crying.  I’m thinking about how this world is full of so much good.  And I just wish with all my heart tonight that I could make more good for you.  I don’t know that I can ever really stop the bad, the hurt, the sorrow, the alone, the really really really unfair.  But I want to make more good, more love, more warm, more sweet, more peace.  For you.

In The Secret Life of Bees, May is overwhelmed with her empathy for the sad things of the world, and she ends up drowning herself.  I don’t know how it happened tonight, in my dumb, empty house, on a dumb, lonely Tuesday… but I feel overwhelmed with my empathy, and with my gratefulness for the good things.  That all come from you.  And I feel overwhelmed for your sake, with just a small imagining of what you might think or feel or want.  And I don’t want to drown, I want to live.  For you.

Thank you for holy moments on dumb Tuesday nights.  Please don’t judge me for finding my breath during dumb movies.  Help me to make more good for your world.  To not get overwhelmed by the bad.  To love.  Endlessly.

Amen.

Quiet

Dear God,

Sometimes I just want to be quiet.

I want to feel as though I don’t need to explain myself.  I want to feel understood.  I don’t want to defend or debate, pretend or prattle for the sake of social expectations.  I want to shush the rush of the day, the week, the decade, the life that is happening all the time, all the time, all the time.  I want to hear nothing, no one, but you, singing the song of my heart each day.

Listen.  Hear me?  Nothing.  Sing.

 

Amen.