“I have heard there are troubles of more than one kind.
Some come from ahead and some come from behind.
But I’ve bought a big bat. I’m all ready you see.
Now my troubles are going to have troubles with me!”
~ Dr. Seuss
Thanks to my cousin’s wife, Jennifer, for sending me this silly poem 🙂
This afternoon I got a call from Paul who used to be the director of the summer camp, Island Lake, that I worked at. Seventeen years ago he met with me on campus while I was a student at the University of Washington. I was applying for a position at camp the coming summer and he stopped by for an interview. I didn’t get the job – I ended up a slobbery mess as I poured out my aching heart. In those days I was far, far from the Lord. I still believed in my mind that God was real but I just really didn’t want God. I was struggling big time with sin in my life and feeling totally defeated by it. Every time I sinned, I felt the conviction that comes from the Holy Spirit. I would ask the Lord to help me but then I would sin again…and again and again. Eventually it was easier to walk away from God than to stay in the ring and keep fighting with my sin. I was exhausted and found myself in a world where no one could care less if I loved God. It was easy in that sense to walk away. I actually found myself occasionally thinking, “oh yeah, God,” and then walking on without Him. There is a moment that in all the days of my life I will never forget. I was showering – the only time I was quiet and not rushing around somewhere – and I essentially heard the Lord calling to me – asking me to return to Him. I did not hear His words with my ears but I can tell you that I knew with total certainty that God was speaking to me. I physically turned my body in the shower and in my heart rejected Him once again. So this is the state Paul found me in as I ironically applied for a position at a Christian camp. Over the course of the coming year there came a time when I could say to the Lord that I wanted to want Him but I still didn’t. My heart was dead to Him. But I was miserable, for I had tasted of the Lord. I knew what life was like being close to the Lord and I discovered that knowing Him but being far from Him is the most wretched state possible. I prayed that He would help me to desire Him again. And then, sitting in the window sill of our dorm lounge, months later, looking out to the east over Lake Washington with Mount Rainier looming up into the sky – all muted pinks and blues – I discovered that my heart had changed. In my feeble broken state I had a spark of desire to walk with my God again. It was a long, long road and need for a lot of healing in my heart. A year and half after that conversation with Paul, I came to camp to work. I came hurting and fragile. I needed desperately for people to deal gently with me – my spirit was tender – tender toward the Lord but also the sort of tender that comes with wounds – a painful sort of tender. In those miserable years apart from God, I learned two things that will stay with me and which I know as much as anyone can say they know anything. I know that only God can change a person’s heart. I know that God is a relentless pursuer of our hearts – He wants us and He will not stop – He will go to extraordinary lengths to draw us to Himself. He yearns for us – He loves us – He delights in us – even in our feeble, broken, unlovely state.
Today when Paul called, I found myself once again able to say what was in my heart, but I hadn’t the courage to say before now. I’m finding it very hard to ask God to heal Allistaire. That might seem completely bizarre. I’m her mom, surely I should be on my knees every day asking God for her healing. But I think that this prayer oozes from my pores all day long as I’m with her. I yearn like irresistible inertia thrusting me forward, to have my little love home again and have our family together again. I gave her the name Allistaire in part because I think it’ll look good on a resume – it is a strong name. I want to know her when she’s old. I want to hold a conversation with her. Somehow though I can’t seem to very often articulate with words this prayer for her healing. I think that perhaps being with her all day and night, I just can’t keep facing the possibility of her death over and over and over. I would come undone. There are many things I find myself praying for clearly to the Lord every day. But this prayer for her healing I need to leave, for the most part, in your hands. Speak the words for me I find so hard to pray.
Jai, undoubtedly you are praying that prayer with every breath you breathe. Let us use words.
The most amazing part of being a Christian is having people who can pray and believe the things you don’t have the strength too.
I took a Bible class at Montana Bible College a long time ago and we had to memorize Romans chapter 8 throughout the semester. It has been a chapter I go back to over and over in my mind and listening to you today these verses came back to me agian. I hope you find encouragement in them today.
But if we hope for what we do not see, we eagerly wait for it with perseverance. Likewise the Spirit also helps in our weaknesses. For we do not know what we should pray for as we ought, but the Spirit Himself makes intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered. Now He who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is, because He makes intercession for the saints according to the will of God.
I really like the point Josie makes here. Being a Christian means being part of one body. It’s a group activity. There are times when we need to carry one another; to be the bridge over uncertainty and struggle – from one point of faith to another.
We are praying. Our oldest Gracie reads with me and is so touched by her sweet smile. I am stunned by the depth your words reach and how articulate you are with such raw emotion. I called Steve at work to tell him what was happening and he was just stunned. He was so taken with her when he visited last year. So from your heart, to my heart, to my lips, then to our good good God, I will voice that pray for you.
Cierra – It is impossible to tell you how much I appreciate your willingness and commitment to pray on our behalf. I know with little ones of your own your prayers will take on an exceptional empathy. The girls and I were equally taken with Steve and his joy for pretty pretty princesses -I mean what hard core guy willingly wears plastic jeweled play earrings? We love you and Steve and wish your family a Merry Christmas.
My dear Sten and Jai,
I anxiously wait each day to read your posting on dear Allistaire. Jai you are an incredible mom. A rock!! Allistaire is incredibly beautiful and I think of her riding in the wagon going up the aisle at Bjorn’s wedding. So good and so very poised. Take care and you know my thoughts and prayers are with all of you.
Aunti Lucy – Thanks for you love and prayers! I know how dear our girls are to you – thank you for all the sweetness you send their way. I have some fun pictures of Allistaire wearing the black American Girl doll hat you gave her – I’ll have to post them sometime soon. Merry Christmas!
Jai, tears have been streaming from my eyes and heart praying this prayer of healing throughout the days since I heard this news of little beautiful Allistaire. I wish I could take this pain away from your heart and heal this child!!! You are not alone in this.
WE LOVE YOU!
Praying for you guys throughout the day every day. I’m praying for her healing and know God hears your groanings. I think those are deeper than any words you could utter.
As always, thank you for sharing the reality of your heart: past & present. Though I’m doing the Christmas activities with family & friends, you are always on my heart/mind/prayers. For you. For Sten. For Solveigh. and of course for Allistaire. For the staff. For the watching family/friends. For all who are touched by this: near & far.
As I was reading this post, I was thankful that what you tasted of God drew you back to Him. Then I was thankful that Paul hired you the following year. Then I was thankful that you met Emily. Then I was thankful that you came to TMC…. and my life embarked on a ‘forever different’ because of knowing you existence. But, mostly, as I reflect on that progression of events, I am SO thankful for God’s thoroughness… to bring about that which He wills. His mercy is humbling…. though sometimes severe, it’s just humbling.
Love and more love!!
Okay, I hope it isn’t annoying that I post on every post you post. Haha, but I cannot not post on this one!
Oh Jai, how my heart aches for you and your family. You can rest certain that there is not a day that goes by that we do not pray for your sweet Allistaire. I pray for her healing, rest, and so many other things.
She is loved in this family, as are the rest of you, despite us not knowing you.
We pray for you and with you constantly. You
have many prayer warriors fighting this fight next to your family!
Jai – i agree – every inhale is a prayer, every exhale a request. Love you. Praying for you.
I am praying, and praying, and praying.
Jess – thanks so much for your prayers and your sweet, sweet voice mail yesterday. We both know what it is to pray and yearn for God to bring about newness of life and to rejoice when He answers that prayer – I know that history undergirds your prayers now. Thank you! And yes, we’d love to have you visit after you come back from your trip!
I am praying this for you, my new friend!