Monday, September 28, 2015

Alone with God

I lift my eyes to the hills
From where does my help come?
My help comes from the LORD,
who made heaven and earth.
Psalm 21: 1-2

Last night I had a telephone conversation, catching up with a dear old friend. She was like a sister to me but in recent years circumstances have created distance between us. She is a beam of sunshine, kind and generous, and I have loved her for a long time.

Lately her life hasn’t been easy—deaths of people close to her, financial hardship, a series of stumbling blocks that would break the best of us. But she carries on with only a slight dent in her usual cheery disposition. Mostly she just seems so tired. She is sandwiched in that awful position that some of us reach in the middle of life—children grown but not quite independent, aging parents who need care, ourselves aging and the big question of how we will find the resources to support ourselves for the rest of our uncertain future.

I just want to put my arm around her, to tell her she’ll find a way, to tell her I understand.

Yes, I have been there. I’ve seen my life not turn out how I hoped it would. It has been much harder than I ever expected. But in all the losses I have experienced, in all the times that I have felt crushingly alone, wondering how I would navigate through life, doubting I had the strength or resourcefulness to go the distance, I found my way. I didn’t find my way through my own strength; no knight in shining armor came along and solved my problems or mended my broken heart. I found God.

When I found myself broken, on my knees, I realized that on my knees was where I needed to be. No one was going to rescue me so I prayed. No, it wasn’t even prayer—it was pleading. I said, “God, please exist. And if you exist, please hear me. And if you hear me, please let me feel your presence. Please work in my life. Do something!”

He heard me. I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that He does exist. It didn’t happen in a day or even a year, but slowly I began to find my way and grew in faith. There is no comfort, no support, nothing that gives meaning to my life more than my assurance that He is with me. It has been an amazing experience growing in relationship with Him.

Other than the incredible community of people in my church (and my sister with whom I share my love of God) I find myself somewhat isolated on this path. My closest friends do not share my faith. I’m sure that they must roll their eyes at me, wondering where this Jesus freak came from. The cheese stands alone. I no longer downplay my faith or my love of Jesus. I don’t try to hide my commitment to follow Him. It’s okay. I don’t try to evangelize or to convince them that I’ve got all the answers. I just live with this peace that surpasses all understanding.

And, as for my dear friend who is struggling, what can I do for her? To my knowledge, she has never expressed any interest in knowing God. Maybe it’s there, in her heart. I don’t know. I love her. I want to tell her that she can step out in faith, that God will flood her heart with meaning and hope, that all the wounds of the past will melt away, and that people who once were strangers will become like sisters to her. I am finding that peace and I pray that she will too. I’ll just put my arms around her and pray for her.

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