Friday, January 14, 2011

“I do not ask Thee to take them out of the world, but to keep them from the evil one.” ~John 17:15

Overachiever that I am doomed to be, it’s a rare thing when my marker board turns up empty at the end of the week. I’d done at least all I could on every task. Every to-do wiped clean. As I wiped the last one away, I stood in awe. Well, thank you, Lord for your mercy.

We were eating supper when Freckles excitedly informed us that an intruding car had pulled into our parking lot. Soon Olga was inside, delivering eggs and chatting. Again Freckles barked, and we heard Justice’s steps on the porch. It was far too cold to bide his time in the car. We invited them in, passed them pieces of pumpkin cheesecake and settled in for a chat. We talked up and down all kinds of subjects and then Olga began sharing that she’d been reading up on some Russian culture lately. Things she remembered, but remembered differently, having been away. Looking back, she realized she’d never seen any “disabled” folks. Her study revealed that the Russian government had developed a tidy way to hide them away—essentially forgotten by their families, kept only among other disabled folks for their entire lives. “Anyone ‘irregular’,” she said, with disgust at the thought of considering them “deformed” or “undesirable.”

“You’ve been reading a lot in Russian, haven’t you,” Justice asked suddenly, as she finished what she was saying.

“Well, yes,” she answered, smiling.

“I can tell,” he explained, “Because your vocal patterns are different. You’re using lots of indefinite articles like ‘a work’ instead of ‘work.’”

Thus launched a very interesting discussion of Russian grammar. “Which is more difficult?” we asked, as she tried to explain at least half a dozen Russian tenses and the change it made simply in a noun. “Russian!” she declared quickly. “I’d rather speak English any day.”

Tonight I knelt on the cold tile in my bathroom, trying to pray—for so many people about so many situations. Overwhelmed with helplessness, I finally just opened to the simple prayer Jesus taught His disciples and began to personalize it. Then I turned to John 17 and read. All my life, I’ve begged the Lord to break me, pour me out and use me up, but I’m afraid I was overly confident. I’m so exhausted. So emotionally drained. I have been for several months. And I haven’t even come close to touching the life I have prayed to lead. Struggling to feed myself, not feeling like I’m being fed from anywhere else. All year, it has just seemed like one situation after another has sucked away my emotion and passion, and I have been helpless to refuel. I’m completely empty. I have nothing left to give. I’m shot.

And I’m so disgusted with myself. Why can’t I feed myself? Why do I come away from Bible Study still exhausted spiritually? I’m so stale. There’s no passion left for evangelism. I want to turn and walk away from anyone who spouts folly about God, instead of probing for their conscience. Where has my love gone? Where is the bold Spirit that used to come upon me? Where is the strength that once upheld me? The joy that drove me? The compassion that motivated me? Why am I shriveling up? When I’m years removed from true persecution, why am I moaning like a wounded animal? The Lord upholds prisoners in solitary confinement, He can uphold overdramatic me!

But the Lord Jesus’ words as He prayed for those whom God gave Him, sent a small fire back into my soul. I’d knelt, struggling to pray for others. Struggling to pray for others that I’ve been praying for with no visible results. Struggling to know what to pray. Weary. No words to speak. No direction to aim. Wondering if anyone has been praying for me? I’ve not been asking for prayer. Everyone seems to have so much already burdening their hearts and minds. Can’t I muddle through without troubling anyone? Can’t I handle these little loads that come my way? Can’t I even feed myself? There in the Garden, as His life and His heart were ebbing away, as He awaited His betrayer, as He prepared for separation from His holy Father, when He was drained and empty, He prayed for me. He prayed that I would glorify the Father, that I would continue in God’s name, that I would have full joy, that I would be kept from the evil one, that I would be made holy through God’s word, that I would be unified with my brothers and sisters, that I would love as He loves and that, someday, I would be with Him. And if God heard Him on my behalf regarding sin and my just punishment, as proven by His resurrection, then I rejoice knowing God heard Him on my behalf in the garden.

I am weary, hearing nothing, knowing nothing, feeling nothing

Empty words I’ve heard are only the reflection of myself.

But when Christ, my Life, knelt lonely in the Garden, pleading pardon

For my soul, that I’d be whole, and wholly yielded to the King,

He was heard, His words were spoken from a broken man, yet God

Found them pleasing, for this reason He was heard, His every word.

And I’m trusting that His pleading for the life that I am leading

Will be proven as I’m kept from death, His breath my daily bread.

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