The sun stayed up till eight o’clock last night. My front yard is bloomin’ pink petals and last year’s perennials. I’m watching tree buds turn into shoots. Coiled leaves uncurl like a newborn fist. Soft and supple, every lobe carefully carved. Form and color quietly march in right before my eyes. Sparrows and finches fill the air with chirps, cheeps, whistles, and song. Robins are nesting on their young. Spring is birthing. How I love the entry of a new season. Following the arrest of a Midwest freeze—Spring is a most refreshing drink.
I know myself well enough. If the sun shined every day, I would soon complain of it. If bare branches never came, I would fast forget how rustling leaves sound like low tide on the seashore. If crabapple blossoms were not so quick to fall, would I wait and rush to catch their coming? Without the shortage seasons bring, I’d rarely break for praise.
But right now, clouds are moving in over my soul. A deep sorrow stirring up inside. In the midst of such lush landscape, I feel stranded. Hiking through wide pastures, my heart stinks with the stench of injustice. Groaning over the poor and oppressed who continue to go hungry and unheard. Beyond this backyard cries the devastated and enslaved—where the weak die first and the wicked walks away. Knees hit dandelions and dirt. Sobbing on the ground of this barking world, How long, O Lord, until You return?
Satan travels to and fro. And it feels like he’s taking over.
What more can I do to help? What can this high school diploma do? This day-dreaming teen who barely made it through? Dollars and cents aren’t enough. Wrong keeps coming and won’t give up.
Loosening boots that brought me home, I stack their muddy soles in garage corner. Plodding through back door, my husband sits with a letter in his hand. He reads my face and stops to listen. Spilling my snarl with sorrow, his eyes fill with tears. An inmate has written, “The bible studies have ceased, and certain brothers been hollering there is no more Christian program. But I took the initiative to call deck prayer the first opportunity given when they unlocked us. ‘If God be for us who can stand against us.’”
Sometimes it takes a man behind bars to recall the freedom that comes through prayer.
Prayer takes our eyes off what we would have and locks them on Who has us.
Those red letters declare loud and true,“Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened for you.”
Even the Christ persisted in prayer. “Who, in the days of His flesh, when He had offered up prayers and supplications, with vehement cries and tears to Him who was able to save Him from death, and was heard because of His godly fear, though He was a Son, yet He learned obedience by the things He suffered.” Didn’t the risen One—before executing justice—rise before daylight to pray?
Our cries to God are not points to our opponent. The sound of our tears are music to His ears.
Jesus knew his outcome, yet he prayed with vehement cries. Why? Why would He ask anything? Why would the Son of God, who was there at the beginning, spend all night in prayer knowing all things are set in stone? Why did Jesus pray for you and me (John 17:20) before we ever came to be?
In his book, Concise Theology, J. I. Packer writes something jaw dropping, “God foreordains the means as well as the end, and our prayer is foreordained whereby He brings His sovereign will to pass.”
Whaaaat? Does the weakness of our knees ignite the fires of God’s will? Are our cries the battle cry where the Almighty musters an army? “If My people, who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray,” the scriptures say.
I see blue skies and want to go. Want to leave—finally be home. When I read, “set your mind on things above,” I hear, “raise your eyes, admire the sky, you’ve done all you can do.” But I’m still here—my presence and prayers required here.
How is God redeeming the winter of every new day? Watch. And pray.
Father, please awaken the man who has been sleeping all his aching life. Shed light on the wayward stumbling through the dark. Reshape the character of the young one who’s trying to find his way. Thaw the heart of the woman buried in bitter snow. Bless The Turkana farms in Kenya with a hearty harvest. Open the businesses of the poor so they can feed their families. Send the lawyer to the courtroom to slay one more injustice.
Always ask. Don’t stop seeking. Never. Quit. Knocking.
The First and the Last is unwrapping, advancing, granting, engaging, relating, disclosing, unrolling His great glorious plan right before our eager eyes. Quietly marching in with every prayer that leaves our lips. Our prayers are figured in to our God working it out.
We weep for the world He already overcame—so at His coming He will wipe every tear away.