“Prayer is talking to something or anything with which we seek union, even if we are bitter or insane or broken. (In fact, these are probably the best possible conditions under which to pray.) Prayer is taking a chance that against all odds and past history, we are loved and chosen, and do not have to get it together before we show up.”
It was mid-July in Alabama. I was walking around the pond at work, where one of those afternoon “pop-up” storms had emptied the skies just moments earlier, cooling the air enough to make the Alabama heat tolerable for a few minutes.
I strolled along, noticing how green the trees were. The clouds were parting, and the sky seemed even more blue than normal. All of a sudden, I felt God nudge me toward a tiny pink flower growing on a vine along the perimeter of the path. The flower was no larger than my pinky, and was shaped like a tiny bell.
“Look at the lines,” I felt God say. “Look at the deep shades of pink inside and how they gradually lighten toward the edges of the petals. Take a look at the vine, so small in diameter, but able to hold the fragile flower, even through a downpour.“
As the rains came and the wind blew, that tiny flower clung to its strong stem for dear life.
Then I pictured Jesus, clinging to God in the Garden of Gethsemane, pleading with his Father through clenched teeth, saying, “if there be any other way…” I see Jesus, the fragile human, hanging by a thread to the path before him.
While the rains poured down.
We can’t stop storms. We can’t capture the wind or refuse lightning. Claps of thunder still startle our unsuspecting bodies in the middle of the night.
We are in a rough patch right now.
It feels like nothing is working. But I’ve lived enough to know hard times come and go, just like afternoon storms. It never rains forever.
It’s the same with You, God. Anxiety shows up, and not too long after that, Your peace washes over us. Another bit of bad news arrives, and You remind us of all the times You’ve pulled us through before. Hard days come. Hard weeks, too. But they always end.
So we keep holding on, because the whole premise of Christianity is pretty bat-shit crazy. So we trust in a bat-shit crazy God who loved three Hebrew boys enough to show up in the midst of the fire. We trust in a bat-shit crazy God who walked on water to prove that He would never let us sink beneath the weight of shame or self-doubt. We trust in a bat-shit crazy God who parted oceans, raised dead men to life, and constantly brought something out of nothing.
Bring something out of our nothingness now, too, God.
Help us see that our present struggle is no match for Your infinite wisdom, eternal patience, and boundless love. And in the waiting, remind us that the storms are what feeds the flower.