Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Praying the SAM Creed

We're never really alone, even when it feels like it
In my last post, I mentioned that for the past few weeks, our family has received bad news about so many of our friends and relatives, it feels surreal.

And overwhelming.

The prayer list I keep in my rolling cathedral (car) is overflowing with urgent needs of those I care about. The thing is, I often don't know how to pray, especially if the person I'm praying for is terminally ill. Or if the situation seems, by human standards, hopeless.

Dare I pray for a miracle for each of these loved ones?

I found the answer in the third chapter of Daniel. It's the well known story of three Hebrew boys (four counting Daniel, but he's not a key player in this particular part of the story) who have been taken captive and are living in Babylon under King Nebuchadnezzar, their self-centered monarch whose only god was himself. I'm going to call him King N to give my weary typing fingers a break.

Following some bad advice from his yes-men advisers, vain King N built a giganto statue of His Royal Hiney and ordered everyone in the kingdom to fall down and pay homage to his royal self or die. These true-God-worshipping Hebrew slaves, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, refused. They flat refused to worship any other but the one and only God Almighty knowing the alternative was death in the bowels of King N's fiery furnace.

That was gutsy all right, but not as gutsy as what they did next.

In verses 17-18, our boys answered King N's snide question, "What god will be able to rescue you from my power?" with what I call the SAM creed (an acronym of their names):

"If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God whom we serve is able to save us. He will rescue us from your power, Your Majesty. But even if he doesn't, you can be sure that we will never serve your gods or worship the gold statue you have set up."

But even if He doesn't... five powerful words that contain a lifetime of pure trust.  

In other words, the SAM fellows said, "We believe that the God we serve can do anything. He can save us from this disaster. But even if He chooses not to, we will still serve Him."

And you know the rest of the story ... God did indeed work an incredible walk-with-me-through-the-fire miracle and King N ended up declaring, "There is no other god who can rescue like this!" (verse 29) 

So it occurred to me that maybe I should pray about the seemingly hopeless situations on my prayer list by the very same SAM creed: "Lord, I believe that you perform miracles now just like you did then. Please send a miracle to save my friend from this impending disaster. But even if you choose not to intervene, and my heart breaks with the suffering of this dearly beloved one, I will still serve you."

Is there someone in your life you need to lift up in prayer with the SAM creed? Tell me about it - I'd love to hear from you.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Starting the New Year Out Right

Photo by Marian Crawford
I must admit when I awoke before dawn this morning, New Year's Day, my thoughts were a bit on the dreary side. I was bummed by recent family problems, pressing decisions, and the sudden death of a close friend a few days before Christmas.

Yes, I know, I know - compared to many people, these barely rate a .5 on the 1-10 problem scale, but my relatively minuscule ticky-tack problems combined to cast a blue hue over the upcoming new year.

After wading through depressing headlines and unfunny comics in the Sunday paper, I dressed and headed to church all alone because Spouse was under the weather.Wouldn't you know, the day I needed company most, there wasn't any.

Or maybe there was.

Just as I pulled out of my driveway and nosed the car around the first curve, I was immersed in light. Beautiful, sparkly, utterly amazing white light from the largest array of sunbeams I've ever seen. Maybe it was a unique combination of sheen and mist, maybe the angle of the sun was different than usual, I don't know, but it was more magnificent than the most elaborate light show Disney could possibly imagine.

Now before I continue, I must mention here that I am a connoisseur of sunbeams. A self-proclaimed expert, mind you. Since I was a little girl, I've taken special joy in early morning sunbeams - those long fingers of Papa God reaching down to earth through the mist to touch His creation with the first light of a brand new day.

Such promise! Such possibilities! Anything could happen.

Many, many mornings, I've taken my prayer walks precisely at the time I know the best sunbeams will make their appearance, usually around 8:10 am. For me, it's one of those heart-bonding times I have with my heavenly father when He cuts through the fog and the mist and clutter of my day to reach right in and caress my careworn heart.

Be still and know that I am God (Psalm 46:10, NKJ).

Knowing, simply knowing that He is large and in charge soothes my troubled spirit and brings me peace. Sometimes, I think, we just need a little reminder.  

So today, without giving my personal pick-me-uppers a single thought, suddenly, I was surrounded by these soul-stirring reminders that I am not alone. That my Papa God is right here with me. And He will be though 2012 just like He was through 2011 and the 50+ years before that.

Then just to bring the point home, I drove past a man with a black garbage bag, shuffling along with his head down through the most incredible dazzling sunbeams anyone could ask for, totally oblivious to the light show all around him. He was actually bathed in light ... translucent, iridescent, brilliant light. But he missed it.

He missed the whole thing because was looking down, collecting trash.

"Look up! Look up!" I shouted out my window. But he only glared in my direction, shook his head at the crazy lady driving by, and dropped his gaze back to the ground. He never knew what he was missing.

Like a smack in the gut, I knew I was seeing myself. Yep, it was me all right, trudging along so many days with my eyes cast downward, collecting my own brand of garbage. Feeling alone and forgotten when all I had to do was look up and see that I'm surrounded by the most amazing light: the presence of my Lord, Savior, and Companion through all of time. 

So my best New Year's gift came without a bow or a box. It came in a beam of light. And whether you see it in an incredible early-morning display of hope, or a candle in the darkness, or even during a rainstorm, I hope yours will too.