Coming out on the Other Side

September 17, 2008

Since my last three posts… something has changed. I don’t know exactly what it was or precisely how it happened. I just know it’s different.

The shift actually happened on Friday night. I’ll give a quick summary.

Thursday, before I went to bed, I was just sitting there thinking when Romans 15:13 smacked me in the face. “… that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” Wait a minute… “by the power of the Holy Spirit.” OK! God of hope, fill me with all joy and peace in believing that I may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. Holy Spirit, help me. God of hope, you know what I need. I’m desperate to believe… I’m desperate to know joy and peace again. I’m desperate to have abounding hope again. Holy Spirit, cause me to abound in hope. You are able. God of hope, fill me with all joy and peace in believing in you. Cause hope and faith to arise within me. Do what I cannot do on my own. God of hope, fill me with all joy and peace in believing, that I may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. …

And so it continued… for hours. I was desperately praying Romans 15:13… over and over and over again.

For the record, I also played a little Tetris while I prayed. I was still playing when Jen got up for work. Since she had just gotten back into town (and since she is one of my closest friends), I filled her in on where I had been for the last week. While I was talking, I finally beat Jonathan’s score again on Tetris. It felt like a breakthrough. A relatively meaningless breakthrough, but I was excited.

After Jen left, I stayed up for a while. I felt like I had suddenly struck gold with the whole Romans 15:13 thing. That was the desperate cry of my heart. So I just kept at it for a while.

Finally, I went to bed around 2:30 PM. I sent a text to Richard asking if we could cancel date night plans or just go to Starbucks later in the evening.

And then 5:30 came around… and the stupid tornado warning made them use that obnoxious siren, making it impossible for me to sleep. I got online and checked the weather… just sitting in my kitchen, looking at the window and thinking “I hope this tornado stuff passes soon so that I can just go back to sleep.” Our frequent false fire alarms at IHOP have regrettably made most things of those nature (warnings, alarms, and the like) relatively meaningless to me.

Eventually, the weather passed… and I went back to sleep.

10:30 PM, Richard and I went to St. Arbucks, where Richard gave me some basic pointers on using the Book of Common Prayer. (We go to an Episcopal church on Sunday mornings.) I’ve actually really grown to love the BCP… and the collects. There are some awesome prayers in that thing.

We were a few minutes late to the prayer room. It was all of that BCP fun, my enjoyment probably heightened by the fact that they actually gave me a VENTI ice water with my pumpkin spice chai. (The plaza Starbucks is usually pretty stingy with their water, refusing to give anything bigger than one of those squaty “tall” things that I can suck down in three seconds.)

(Firefox doesn’t recognize Chai as a word. That makes me sad.)

On the way back, Richard told me that he was planning on doing the apostolic prayers for our worship with the word at night. My first reaction was, “Oh… I could probably really get into a Psalm 22 flow tonight.” But then I remembered my little prayer-fest before bed. The apostolic prayers might be JUST what I needed.

1:30, we have our team briefing. We picked out which prayers we were going to do and I made my plea that we be sure to do Romans 15:13, and stay there for a while. I was delighted when Richard said that we would skip Romans 15:5-6 and just do the hope thing.

So, 2:00. We did Ephesians 1:17-19. And then we did Ephesians 3:16-19… and it was SO good for my heart.
I was pacing all over that little sound booth… with my arms out and my heart open to receive from the Lord. And then we did Romans 15:13… and it was like the night couldn’t get any better.

I cried so much during the set. During the cycles and between them. Richard sang “There is a Redeemer” (good ol’ Keith Green). it seemed like that was a breaking point for me. I knew we were doing the song, and I remembered the song, but the chorus hadn’t even crossed my mind until we sang it. “Thank you, oh my Father, for giving us Your Son. And leaving Your Spirit till the work on earth is done.” Oh. My. Goodness. (And the whole room seemed to really be feeling that one. We could have sung that thing for like an hour and it wouldn’t have gotten old.)

I left exceedingly happy. Chipper, even. I hadn’t really felt quite like that for over a week. Chipper and really warm. (I had been hoodie-free and burning up during the last hour or so of the set.)

After that, it was different. The accusations weren’t screaming against God. My heart had found peace and rest again. My heart had found confidence in the God of the promises. I was singing again. (And singing a lot.)

It was a good night. I don’t know what happened, but something shifted. And it has been different ever since. “Praise be to God, who has not rejected my prayer or withheld His love from me” (Psalm something-or-other).

Sunday morning, I got to share a little bit of what had happened with Father John. He is very pastoral and probably remembered that I hadn’t come out with the guys after the service the week before. (I was still in the pews, bawling like a baby in the midst of indescribable pain.) He asked how I was doing and gave me one of those knowing looks, like he often does. So I told him that I was doing really well… but that the last week or week and a half had not been so good. And then I began to give him the long version of the answer to his “How are you?” question.

It was interesting watching him as I shared about the last week. He seemed pretty touched. He asked a lot of questions and was very intently listening. I would say more, but that’s Father John’s life. But the conversation ended in him saying, “You have been the presence of God to me today.”

So… the doubts and the questions and the accusations seem to be done. At least for now. I imagine there are layers of doubt, offense and accusation that are yet to be uncovered within my heart. And I can trust His perfect leadership to draw those out and help me wrestle through them when it is time. But right now, I am full of hope and full of belief in the beautiful God who is abounding in steadfast love and WILL act on His promises. I’m at peace and full of joy. And I’ll take that. I like peace and joy.


One comment

  1. Yay! 😀 See, this is part of why the other posts are so powerful: ultimately they point to this juicy delicious Holy Spirit goodness.

    Good stuff–and, I’d say, quite replicable. Thanks for sharing. 😀

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