Thursday, November 29, 2007

Desperate Prayers and a Thankful Heart—4

After the conference I shared with a few of my prayer partners at church and in my critique groups so they would know how to continue to pray for me. And the testing from the Lord began in earnest. It’s hard to describe the last two months. But instead of writing in the mornings like I used to, I now spend more time with the Lord. At a friend’s urging, I’ve started a study in the Song of Solomon. I’m not even through the introduction, and I’m already blown away by the incredible love God has for me as described in the Song. (The study is Song of Songs: The Ravished Heart of God by Mike Bickle of the International House of Prayer. I got it from Friends of the Bridegroom, .) By journaling everything as I study, I slow down enough to be able to grasp more of what the Lord is revealing to me through this study.

I now see God’s love in everything He has asked me to give up to Him, even though the circumstance may be hard. The events of the last two months have been like a whirlwind—fast, destruction, confusion, but always a sense of peace, knowing I’m loved and He’s purifying me, growing me in ways I never dreamed. And my prayers have been desperate. There’s no other way to describe it. I ache for people and their struggles in a way I’ve never done before. My prayer life has grown in ways I’d not expected.

After about six weeks of this kind of praying, I decided the Lord must be getting tired of hearing my desperate cries for my friends and family, and especially for myself. Until the Wednesday night Bible study at my church. The assistant pastor who usually leads this service started a series on the Beatitudes the week before. This Wednesday, he started with the first beatitude: “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” Kraig explained that the word Jesus used for poor describes one who is destitute, having no means monetarily or spiritually to help himself. Already I sensed the Lord was telling me to listen up. He had something very important I needed to learn. Jesus was talking about those who realize their complete dependence on God and begs for His grace in mercy in every area of life. I was there! I completely identified, because by this time, the Lord had allowed me to be tested (and continues to test) every single area the song “Whatever It Takes” touches on.

Kraig concluded his study of this first beatitude with the question, “What does poor in spirit look like?” The answer: The life of one who is poor in spirit is characterized by a life of desperate prayer.

Wow!! I literally felt the light bulb come on in my brain. God wants to hear my desperate prayers. I please Him, I bring joy and delight to Him, when I am totally dependent on Him, running constantly to the shelter He provides for direction, for wisdom . . . for everything! What a relief to know I was already on the right track!

And the next Sunday, as I was teaching my Sunday school class of ladies, I got the answer to how Abraham was able to obey so willingly, so completely, when God asked him to sacrifice Isaac. We are slowly working our way through Beth Moore’s study, Jesus, The One and Only (because of time constraints, each day’s lesson is a week’s lesson for us), and we have just completed the seventh week in the book. In day five of that week we studied the story of the prodigal son. Beth mentions the principle that when we stray, we still have to bear the consequences of our sin even after we have repented. In answer to the question, “When will all these painful repercussions end?”, Beth responds, “Not until the very idea of straying causes you such painful flashbacks that you’re hardly ever tempted to depart His will again.”

It wasn’t until Abraham had suffered the consequences of his attempts to take God’s promises into his own hands in order to see them fulfilled was Abraham willing to obey willingly and completely, right as soon as God asked for his obedience. And God is now working that principle into me. The tests are numerous, most of the time more than one at once. The last two weeks were some of the most difficult weeks I’ve ever faced, with not only my own personal things, but also with struggles and issues with other people—pulling me into situations and circumstances I’d much rather avoid because of painful associations with the past. And this testing isn’t just affecting me any longer. It affects my family, my church family, my friends.

I can see growth. (And there's still room for a lot more, believe me! I haven't "arrived" yet, not until the Lord calls me home.) Obedience comes much quicker these days. I see God’s love in everything, especially the hard things. I’m much more sensitive to hearing His voice as He speaks to me through His Word. All my words come under intense scrutiny, and my heart is moved to confess at the slightest deviation from what I know to be right. The Lord has blessed me with two work-for-hire writing contracts as a result of my going back to the editor who tried to direct me to this in our meeting at the conference. This time with a heart that was willing to listen. Thank God for second chances!

So desperate prayers lead to a thankful heart. The Lord truly has taken my grief and turned my mourning into joy. While I still grieve both of our mothers departure from this earthly life, I am rejoicing that they are with the Lord today. And I am so blessed by the heritage each of our mothers left behind for us. We will miss them at our Thanksgiving and Christmas celebrations, yes. But no longer with a grief that has no joy.

I still have fibromyalgia and all the pain and other health issues that go along with it, and the last month has been intense as I've started using the guaifenesin protocol and hypoglycemic diet recommended at But God enables me to get through each day. We are being pulled into a ministry situation we thought was behind us. The Lord is stretching me far beyond my comfort zones in every area of my life. And do you know what? I’m excited. A little scared by the glimpses He’s given me of where He’s taking me. But I’m learning that He is all I need. God is truly good!

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