I’m sitting at my desk replaying in my mind the beautiful morning and lunch I spent with the lovely folk of Westgate Baptist at Chosen Valley. Wonderful worship, fantastic fellowship and so many connections discovered through the sharing.
Thanks to Raewyn and Greg for asking me to be a part of your camp and blessing me with an opportunity to share. Here’s part of what I shared:
I have learned that I can pray almost anywhere. That is, anywhere other than in my house where, even if I do go away by myself and shut the door behind me like Jesus did, I am always reminded that I am just one man in a house of five wonderfully vocal women.
I can pray as I wake – to give my thanks for waking to a new day, my desire to serve and my hope to catch a glimpse of Jesus during the day. I can pray in the car for the ever-changing dawn sunrise I see each day as I commute across the causeway on the NorthWestern. I can pray at my desk – for wisdom in leading my team, for honesty in my work, integrity in my decisions and for the blessing of serving the city and country I have chosen to make my own.
In his book ‘Christian Discourses’, Soren Kierkegaard wrote this:
“A man prayed, and at first he thought that prayer was talking. But he became more and more quiet until in the end he realised that prayer is listening.”
As I get older, I often find that when I run out of words and my mind stills itself, it is then that I experience God. When I do it reminds me that I can trust Him in everything and with everything.
A year ago, one of my daughters became extremely ill and was rushed to Waitakere Hospital where she was found to have bacterial meningitis. While waiting for the ambulance, literally hoarse with pain, she suddenly slumped against my shoulder and pleaded ‘Pray for me, Daddy’. I don’t believe I have ever prayed harder.
In the hours that followed, my words began to run into each other; they became meaningless and then they simply ran out. And it was then, by her hospital bed, that I fully experienced God in that incredible choice to trust in Him in my own valley of shadows; the faith, fellowship and prayers of friends and community; the blessing of His grace, mercy and deliverance – and in the glory of God, closing an amazing circle of faith, by answering the prayers of a father for the daughter who had taught him to pray again.
And so, if there is any message at all in this story, I think it is for those of us who ever doubt – the reluctant spouse attending camp to find out what their partner sees in church; the lifelong believer rocked by private grief or national disaster; the mother or father who struggle with the ghosts of their own childhood.
Take that leap – again or for the very first time – and trust in God with a wholehearted trust that is evident to believers and doubters alike.
I will leave you with an example of wholeheartedly trust in the Lord, in the form of a brief story from my Sunday school days.
A Quaker family living on the American frontier heard a rumour that a Native American war party was planning to attack their small settlement, The other homesteaders barricaded themselves in their houses, loaded their guns, and prepared to do battle.
As pacifists, the Quaker family refused to use arms but decided to protect themselves by pulling in the latchstring on their door When the latchstring was drawn, there was no way for someone from the outside to get in.
When night fell the family went to bed, but found they could not sleep; they were restless, and troubled by doubts. They were worried that by pulling in the latchstring, they were putting their faith in a locked door rather than in God’s loving care.
Finally they got up, put the latchstring back out the way it usually was, went back to bed, and slept through the rest of the night.
Just before dawn, a war party attacked the settlement. Houses were burned and people were killed, but the homestead with the drawn latchstring was left untouched.
A few years later, in a peace circle, the father described his experience and was shocked to get an explanation from an Indian who participated in that night’s raid. He said the chief announced, “These people believe in the Divine Spirit. They shall not harm us. We shall not harm them.”