Strength is scarce. I don’t know what to do with this weakness I feel.

Having lost my beloved job and all that went with it, my life – and I – fell apart. I experienced a four-year dark night of the soul.  My persona, the identity that I’d built to compensate for the inner sense of brokenness, crumbled. I began to look more deeply, mostly because there was no other option. I had to face the pain of my difficult and sometimes traumatic childhood. Whilst often desperate for some relief or solution, it became clear that this was a process of unbecoming, of unravelling.”  (shared by Fiona Robertson)


Have you ever felt that you are also becoming unraveled?  Maybe you knew that an upheaval process might eventually prove for the good, but in the back of your heart have you doubted? Change is painful. Maybe the worst type of change is when the rug is pulled out from under you and you didn’t even realize the rug was loose. In the process, we may actually need to be unraveled; to be taken apart at the seams.


I wondered why I become unusually upset during seasons of change. I came up with a term which seems to fit: “fear of scarcity”. When something is scarce, there is a shortage, a famine, a drought. In my life there are times when I have asked for help, resources, or even love from believers and the supplies offered (or not offered) have been scarce. I adapt to such a life by trying hard not to ask for “too much”.  This fear of scarcity in asking help from people can color how I also view God.  I believe that God loves the world, but hey, couldn’t He be just too busy or short-staffed to personally have time for me? 


Then begins my unravelling.  With the tumult of circumstances, I come to the end of my own resources.  Maybe because of age, maybe because of yet another major change, I lose my resilience.  Strength is scarce. I don’t know what to do with this weakness I feel. I’m on the path to nowhere. I need God to unravel the knots I am in. Have I presumed that my God is too small?


Despite my fears of scarcity, God breathes truth into my soul. His perfect Word states: He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds. He determines the number of the stars and calls them each by name. Great is our Lord and mighty in power; His understanding has no limit. (Psalm 147:3-5) Regardless what my heart may feel, God sticks around for the hard work of reworking my life. He truly loves the unlovable and redeems the unredeemable. No matter what I think or how I feel, there is no scarcity with God. He has the strength, the love and the resources to unravel the largest knots which clutter my life.


Do you also need to be unraveled? Are you tangled up in knots of fear? Please know that God has plans and knits together the most beautiful creations. You need not fear scarcity from the Father. He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds. Great is our Lord and mighty in power; His understanding has no limit. Call on Him; His resources are endless. Allow Him to unravel at will – He can be trusted. Fear no more.


“You mentioned Ravensbrück in your talk,” he was saying. “I was a guard in there. But since that time,” he went on, “I have become a Christian. I know that God has forgiven me for the cruel things I did there,  Will you forgive me?”

How does one forgive a betrayer? In 1947, just two years after her liberation from a concentration camp, Corrie Ten Boom recounts that she came from Holland to defeated Germany with the message that God forgives. “When we confess our sins,” I said, “God casts them into the deepest ocean, gone forever.” And that’s when I saw him, working his way forward through the crowd. One moment I saw the overcoat and the brown hat; the next, a blue uniform and a visored cap with its skull and crossbones. It came back with a rush this man had been a guard at Ravensbrück Concentration Camp where my sister and I were sent.


Now he was in front of me, hand thrust out: “How good it is to know that, as you say, all our sins are at the bottom of the sea!” And I, who had spoken so glibly of forgiveness, fumbled in my pocketbook rather than take that hand. He would not remember me, of course–how could he remember one prisoner among those thousands of women? “You mentioned Ravensbrück in your talk,” he was saying. “I was a guard in there. But since that time,” he went on, “I have become a Christian. I know that God has forgiven me for the cruel things I did there, but I would like to hear it from your lips as well. Will you forgive me?”


I stood there with coldness clutching my heart. But forgiveness is not an emotion–I knew that too. Forgiveness is an act of the will, and the will can function regardless of the temperature of the heart. “Jesus, help me!” I prayed silently. “I can lift my hand. I can do that much. You supply the feeling.” And so woodenly, mechanically, I thrust my hand into the one stretched out to me. As I did, an incredible thing took place. The current started in my shoulder, raced down my arm, sprang into our joined hands. And then this healing warmth seemed to flood my whole being, bringing tears to my eyes. “I forgive you, brother!” I cried. “With all my heart!” For a long moment we grasped each other’s hands, the former guard and the former prisoner. I had never known God’s love so intensely as I did then.”


How does one love betrayer(s)? In John 13 we have more than the infamous and unrepentant betrayer (Judas). It is easy to forget the disciples who skedaddled off the Mount of Olives when the soldiers arrest Jesus. Then there is out-spoken Peter, who uses his oratorical skills this time to announce to everyone in earshot that he was not one of Jesus’ followers. All betrayers.


Jesus knew what was to come in the next few hours before the betrayals. After Judas leaves the room, Jesus gives His remaining disciples one of the most difficult laws in all Christianity: A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.


This is family talk, a command from the Heavenly Father to His beloved children on how they are to relate to other believers.  How does one forgive their betrayer? Corrie recounted, “I forgive you, brother! With all my heart!” This type of love is the mark of the true believer that shouts louder to the world than any bumper stickers, t-shirts or emojis.


How do we love one another? Ray Stedman writes: “In this passage, the Greek, literally, says, ‘As I have loved you in order that you might love one another.’ One is the cause and the other is the effect. As in many places in Scripture, the word ‘as’ here can better be translated ‘since’: ‘Since I have loved you in order that you might love one another.’ Here our Lord is saying that his love for us will stimulate and awaken within us the ability to love other people.”


This love was the cause and the identifying mark of Corrie Ten Boom’s love for Christ. Only through Christ could she stretch out her hand to her former enemy. Has Christ’s love stimulated and awakened within you the ability to love other believers, even your betrayer(s)?


Children of those murdered, were able to tell the shooter, “I forgive you; I condemn what you’ve done, but I forgive you.”

On July 17, 2015, a young man entered Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston South Carolina and joined a Bible Study group. The ten people in the room welcomed the young man, even though his presence was unusual. They offered him a Bible and proceeded with their study. At the end they sang a hymn and then had a closing prayer. At that point the man pulled out a gun and shot nine of the ten parishioners in the room, leaving one alive to tell the world what he had done.


Out of that horrific act, there was a glimpse of the presence of Jesus in the courtroom. At the arraignment, several of the children of those murdered, were able to tell the shooter, “I forgive you; I condemn what you’ve done, but I forgive you.” Some other family members, neighbors, and certainly the media, were bewildered by what was happening. How could anybody show that much compassion for an individual that murdered your mother, your grandmother, or your friend? The answer comes from the One who gives mercy to an undeserving people. His name is Jesus!


In Matthew 15:29-39 we see Jesus healing many of the people who followed him. He extended His mercy and made them well. The people were amazed when they saw the mute speaking, the crippled made well, the lame walking, and the blind seeing.  Once again, Jesus extended His mercy to individuals who probably had no love for him, beyond being glad He healed their broken bodies.  


As illustrated by Jesus, showing mercy is part of God’s character. We cannot show mercy to people begrudgingly or with ulterior motives if we are Christ followers. God displayed mercy to us in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. In the same manner, Jesus says in Luke 6:36, Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.


Having enough compassion in your heart to reach out to the sick is one thing, but to forgive a killer, someone who has taken away a part of your family, is that possible? Paul says in I Timothy 1:15-16, Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the worst, but for that very reason I was shown mercy, so that in me, the worst of sinners, Christ Jesus might display his unlimited patience as an example for those who would believe on Him and receive eternal life.


God’s mercy is something which we must live out in our own lives to show what God is like. Are you merciful to just the nice people? The people who deserve it? Or do you show mercy to others, just as God has shown mercy to you? God’s mercy is a cup of cold water in our dry and desperate times. The character of Christ was demonstrated by those individuals in the courtroom towards the man who had pulled out a gun and shot nine of the ten parishioners in that Bible Study Group. That type of mercy displayed to the world Who Jesus Christ is. How is God asking you to display this kind of mercy in your own life to others? Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.


God stuck around for the hard work, of loving the unlovable and redeeming the unredeemable.

Age sixteen, a passenger on a train to nowhere. I immersed myself studying the philosophy of existentialism; concerned with finding self and the meaning of life through free will, choice, and personal responsibility. Quickly, I arrived at an end of myself.  It was all meaningless. Despite having been a believer for about 3 years, I knew few genuine Christians.  Our family’s church was Presbyterian: “God’s Frozen People”.  A popular song of the day was entitled, “Is That All There Is?” Caught in the throes of teenage angst, I pondered those lyrics.


God stepped in.  A pastor invited me to go to a Missions Conference in western PA.  I don’t know why he extended the invitation.  Possibly out of the crowd of disinterested teens in our congregation, he saw in me a glimmer of hope.  For whatever reason, I packed my bags to travel to an event where I knew absolutely no one.


Among a crowd of strangers, I do not remember any of the week’s speakers, musicians, or activities, except for one afternoon.  That message carried an arrow which shattered my cold heart. For years, I had been positive no one loved me; there was no purpose to my existence.  God spoke in the midst of my brokenness.  The first time in my life, I finally understood that with all my failings, God loved me desperately just as I was.  I already understood that Jesus died for my sins, but I had never comprehended the depth of my salvation. 


Christ didn’t save me and then go on His merry way, wishing me a cheery, “Good luck!” over His shoulder. Jesus redeemed me “to bestow on me a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair.” (Isaiah 61:3)


God stuck around for the hard work, of loving the unlovable and redeeming the unredeemable. I was His beloved daughter who would always be loved by her Heavenly Father. Of no consequence was my job performance and talents (or lack thereof).


Tears ran down my face. Pure joy and wonder now entered the equation. “When I look at the night sky and see the work of your fingers—the moon and the stars you set in place, what are mere mortals that you should think about them, human beings that you should care for them?”  (Psalm 8:3-6) I knelt in awe, having realized I was not alone and life was not meaningless. My life finally had a destination as I discovered true eternity with Jesus Christ.


The Savior Who could be anywhere else in the world, sought to be with the broken.

Jesus meets the serial adulteress in John 4:1-42. If there was TikTok in His time, this would be trending news. Jesus was exhausted and sitting on the edge of the village well. The sun was beating down. Often Jesus had dined with tax collectors and sinners, but here He extended Himself beyond the religious, social and economic barriers of the time. He befriended a woman, an outcast who repeatedly made wrong choices and had born the price.  Despite the opinions of His disciples, Jesus loved outcasts.


One commentator calls this event the Gospel of John’s version of the prodigal son, but this is with the prodigal daughter. Everything valued in this culture she had lost – her good name, reputation, stable home and loving family.  She received a flood of contempt from those who knew her.


I remember years ago traveling to the Deep South and saw 2 different signs over the water fountains at a garage.  One said “White” and the other said “Colored”. I had no clue what the 2nd sign meant, except that I did wonder what color the water was. In John 4, we could group the individuals into the “Good People” and “People Who Can Only Obtain Their Water In the Middle of the Day So That They Won’t Contaminate the Good People”. This woman was not in the “Good People” section. In fact, because she was a woman, she was on a rung further down the social scale.


Yet, Jesus specifically sought her out.  He went out of His way to have a conversation, just with her.  Why? Because the God of the Universe loved this woman deeply.  God wanted to have a relationship, despite all the barriers blocking such a possibility. It was no surprise to Jesus that this woman was unclean, impure and heretical. The Jews considered the Samaritans as half-breeds. Years previously, the Jews in this region had intermarried with the heathens and produced a religion which was a curious mix of paganism and Judaism.  Yet, God still sought out this Samaritan woman. She was “everyman” (her name is never mentioned).  She stands for each of us who have succeeded in getting deeply lost under the oceans of life; drowning is imminent. Jesus sought her.


She was the most unlikely person for Jesus to seek out in a village of people who were all hated by the Jews. All her confusion about the encounter, all her attempts to divert the conversation elsewhere, all her sin, Jesus met head on.  He engaged in friendship with her. The Savior Who could be anywhere else in the world, sought to be with the broken. As a result, Many more believed because of His word; and they were saying to the woman, “It is no longer because of what you said that we believe, for we have heard for ourselves and know that this One truly is the Savior of the world.”


Jesus calls us to minister to the broken, the most hated, the unlikeliest people to receive the message.  So, whether you are a man, a woman, or a “half-breed”, the God of the Universe wants to talk to you. Sit down…this may take awhile.


When fear is taking a holiday in your life

I remember climbing the Zion National Park’s Angels Landing Trail (pictured above). The entire hike, I was terrified that my foot would slide on some gravel and take me over the edge. Possibly a wind gust would come and blow me over. During the climb, I hugged the wall and looked up. But, coming down, hugging the wall was of little comfort, as the whole panoply of cliff & valley almost sucked me over the edge. I’m sure I was feverishly praying the whole time but the fear was so great that I don’t remember what I was thinking. To this day, I have never fallen off a cliff (or even a ladder), but the fear of heights can immobilize me.


The Israelites were immobilized when they were caught between the Red Sea and Pharoah’s Army. Moses wrote, “They were terrified and cried out to the Lord” (Exodus 14:10 NIV).  They imagined the worst and assumed that God could not take care of them. They wanted to take the first bus back to slavery in Egypt. No way did they want to move forward, as God had planned. Their imaginations were in overdrive.  Fear (along with Satan) was having a holiday.


What does God say about fear? The Bible certainly does not deny the existence of many things we can or will be afraid of. Jesus began his conversation with the disciples (as recorded in John 16:1-33), “I have told you these things so that you won’t abandon your faith. For you will be expelled from the synagogues, and the time is coming when those who kill you will think they are doing a holy service for God… Yes, I’m telling you these things now, so that when they happen, you will remember my warning. I didn’t tell you earlier because I was going to be with you for a while longer. Here on earth, you will have many trials and sorrows.


In this important last conversation with his students, Jesus had given them a litany of things that were approaching which would directly impact them. And then He comes to the grand conclusion: But the time is coming—indeed it’s here now—when you will be scattered, each one going his own way, leaving me alone… But take heart, because I have overcome the world.”


When I was climbing Angels Landing Trail, I imagined the worst. I would fall to my death, my children would be fatherless, and my wife would be left a widow. None of those things had yet to happen as I began the climb, but I considered them as vivid possibilities. Maybe the wisdom of climbing the trail was debatable.


However, no matter where I am, the Word of God commands: Cast all your cares upon the Lord and He will sustain you; He will not let the righteous be shaken. (Psalm 55:22) God was there on the Angels Trail, in the midst of my worst nightmare. I still can’t believe I challenged that fear. Thank you, God that with every step into the unknown, You are with me.


Whether Jesus was sharing food or healing on the Sabbath, they always made the assumption that because Jesus was doing it, it must be sinful. Their judgments were equally rash, harsh, and unjust.

Due to various eye conditions, I have seen a number of ophthalmologists (specialists who diagnose and treat all eye diseases and perform eye surgery). In all my years of treatments, there is one thing I have never encountered – a blind ophthalmologist. During a surgery on the back of my retina, I would freak out if the doctor said, “You know, I can’t really see well today.  I’m just going to take a blind guess as to where to cut.”


The religious leaders had a serious disability. In Luke 6 they already diagnosed & came up with a treatment for what they considered their greatest headache: Jesus. When scrutinizing Him, they came armed with a significant impairment: they were spiritually blind. Whether Jesus was sharing food or healing on the Sabbath, they always made the assumption that because Jesus was doing it, it must be sinful. Their judgments were equally rash, harsh, and unjust.


Our Savior wearily looked deep into the hearts of these “spiritual specialists” and asked them one question: Why do you look at the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice or consider the log that is in your own eye? (verse 41) The religious teachers disregarded the Holy Spirit’s guidance in studying the Word of God. They didn’t let the scalpel of God’s Word clean out the cancer in their own hearts (Heb. 4:12) They were the blind ophthalmologists who could never heal without first obtaining treatment for their own condition.


How many times do we judge? Maybe we know little parts of a person’s story or have made observations, but we have not been able to see into their hearts. A perfect example of this is in the Book of Job. Job was a man in right standing with God, however through the acts of Satan Job suffered devastating losses.  This did not fit the theology of one of Job’s friends. Job’s “comforting” friend had a skewed vision of God in which nothing bad happens to people who are right with God. (Job 5:20-27) He assumed that Job’s children must have died because of Job’s sins. The friend declared false judgments which fit into the friend’s false view of God.  


Job’s friend shared the behaviors of the religious leaders who judged Jesus. Before they opened their mouths, they lacked the preparation of prayerfully and humbly bringing the object of their scrutiny before the Throne of God. They didn’t ask the Holy Spirit to open their eyes to Scripture. They never mercifully and lovingly engaged the person in conversation, giving them opportunity to explain what was observed. The encounter wasn’t made with grace and God’s wisdom.  They just judged and pounced.


This doesn’t mean that we are to become indifferent to evil, or not address it when we see it. In the case of believers, we are given the privilege of extending a hand in the restoration of a believer who has clearly fallen off course.


Our goal in confronting a Christian caught in sin is to restore our brother or sister.” This comes only by prayer, the wisdom of the Holy Spirit, the truth of God’s Word and an abundance of mercy.  Otherwise, we are the blind ophthalmologists, the religious hypocrites of Jesus’ day and Job’s off course friend. Any necessary spiritual surgery is to be under the guidance and light of the Holy Spirit. Only He can direct the wandering one home.


God’s life map often passes through scenery I had never anticipated. There have been numerous inconvenient side junkets.

My husband and I have opposite styles of navigation.  He likes to meander off the beaten path and enjoy the scenery.  For him, “short-cut” means “long-cut”.  My approach to driving is that point A to point B is to be navigated as efficiently and fast as possible.  It is a family joke that the fastest carpool route was always with Mom at the wheel.


Too bad that my style of navigation isn’t God’s style.  I have discovered that God’s life map often passes through scenery I had never anticipated. There have been numerous inconvenient side junkets.  I had always imagined that God’s map for my life would consist of a delightful marriage to a minister with an adoring congregation, being a mother to at least four loving children, living in a beautiful brick house, having numerous grandchildren, and developing into a well-respected teacher.  Well, I got the first one right:  marriage to a minister. 


I had not planned for the off-road detours:  losing dear friends to terminal diseases, moving 14 times in our marriage, coping with years of strain in finances, not having any daughters to go shopping with, and letting go of dreams.  God apparently didn’t Google the same directions that I did. 


God’s adventures have sometimes ventured into frightening, dark, and lonely forays.  We have felt like lost travelers longing for a brightly lit exit sign to a route in which everything makes sense.  Intermittently we have found solace in fellow travelers who have navigated the same backroads; those who have not given up when the fuel gauge is blinking red empty; those who have not cursed God in the process.  We have been restored by the fellow passengers who have shared the pain and pointed to Jesus.


I cannot neglect that God’s excursions into the wild also have been filled with light.  Those times when I have had the privilege of directing children’s performances and realized that without God, none of this astoundingly joyous moment would have been possible.  The occasions when I have been able to share the bottomless truth of God’s Word with a friend and finally seen the “aha!” light blink on in his/her life.  The junctures of my life when I have felt downtrodden and spit out and God has ridden to the rescue in ways I could not ever have imagined.  Indeed, God has shone His light, but seldom when I would have timed the turning on of the switch. 


I have a friend who is dealing with the possibility of yet another return of cancer. She reminds me in no uncertain terms that for believers in the wonderful, risen Christ, this world is not our home.  We are not the navigators in the pilot seat; our Father has commanded us to be the obedient crew in the back of the plane.  God calls us the adventurers of Hebrews 11. We identify with Abraham, who was looking forward to the city with foundations, whose architect and builder is God. We are the explorers who Instead, they were longing for a better country – a heavenly one.  Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for He has prepared a city for them. 


God in His grace sometimes supplies street lights, but the planning of the journey is His alone.  He can direct my path through the mud, the weeds, and sometimes he chooses the well maintained highway. Rarely does point A go directly and easily to point B.  All He asks is that I obediently stay in His arms and look at the delightful scenery He plants along the way. Lord, help me to trust.


We have lost the capacity to recover quickly from difficulties.  Situations which we once were not formidable have now pushed us down.

In the past few years have you gone through periods of speculation regarding an upcoming situation (whether something scheduled in the next day’s events or an item that slithers into your heart as a vague possibility)?  It could be that upcoming meeting with the boss or maybe watching a doctor on TV tell you how many people have been diagnosed with RSV in the adjoining town.


This is not the minor stuff such as the kind of fear I encounter when I wonder whether people will notice that I’m wearing two different colors of shoes (one being navy and the other being black). No, this is white knuckle fear that wakes you up in the middle of the night. It robs you of being able to breathe deeply and threatens to suffocate. Joy has gone up in flames. The actual event you have been speculating about has yet to happen.

Just want you to know, you are not alone.


The pandemic and the resulting changes in our world have robbed us of resilience, the capacity to recover quickly from difficulties.  Situations which once were not formidable have now pinned us down. Speculation has gained a great deal of dangerous power. We are paying the price.


I have a friend who is going through turmoil at work.  Her boss keeps telling the employees that “big changes are going to happen imminently”. However, the “imminent” has drug into weeks.  At her job, usually “big changes” mean big sacrifices at the employees’ expense.  Fears at the workplace have amped up into hyper mode and speculation has run amuck. 

My friend is a believer and a few years back may have been able to just take a “wait and see” attitude.  The problem is that she has lost her reserve. She can’t put speculation on a back burner.  Life is draining out of her.


Jesus banned speculation. He said: So don’t worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring its own worries. Today’s trouble is enough for today. (Matthew 6:34) This “don’t worry” is not in Jesus’ polite little suggestion box for Christian wannabes.  It is a command. Jesus is saying, “Look, if you trust me enough to take care of you for eternity, will you trust me enough to take care of those events that have not even happened yet?”  Real faith can rebuild and grow resilience.


People have little reserves to deal with a world gone mad.  The good things is, recovery is possible.  John Eldredge writes:  “You can start building mental resilience right here, by roping in speculation. Every time you find yourself speculating, tell yourself to stop it! Bring your thoughts back under control: I’m not indulging speculation. It’s godless. Turn your thoughts immediately to God: You are good, Father. You are with me. You are still in control.” (from “Resilient: Restoring Your Soul in These Turbulent Times”)


This is not a quick and easy fix. This discipline can only be learned by letting the Holy Spirit take charge of how we view life.  Jesus says, “Deal with the present, not with speculating over the future.” He wants to rid us of that white knuckle fear which wakes us up in the middle of the night and which robs us of being able to breathe deeply. Jesus wants to build our resilience. It can only be found in Him. 


Friendly faces just weren’t popping up on our radar.  Life was hard. 

We had moved to Illinois for my husband to attend graduate school.  The Mid-West was in the midst of a drought and the landscape was a uniform brown as the summer sun scorched the earth.  It was a hard time of change. While Bill went to school, I supported our family by holding down two jobs.


Bill was the one officially attending classes, but God enrolled me in His own school. I think my curriculum was harder than Bill’s. The lessons I learned weren’t from the church we attended – that congregation was going through internal struggles. Spiritual and emotional wounds bloodied the aisles of the sanctuary. The lessons weren’t from the school where I taught – they were going through a time of turmoil. The lessons I learned were in the dark, before dawn. I could not sleep, so I took long walks around town.


I was desperately homesick, lonely, and longing for some continuity of life.  My heart was broken. Life was rough. The support system and affirmations I had previously known were in the dust. Friendly faces just weren’t popping up on our radar.  Life was hard. 


After the first year, things turned especially brutal at the school where I taught.  The administrator had made some awful life choices and they surrounded him like a black cloud.  He took his troubles out on the staff. I remember one “coaching session” in which he berated me for 45 minutes straight.  The teaching skills I had previously had confidence in were ridiculed. I was shaken to the core.


It was during that dark night of my soul when I learned to pray.  No more formula prayers for me.  No quick and easy fixes.  My prayer life took place during very long walks in which I would pour out my heart to God. Finally, finally I began to quiet down and listen to God.  The part of me which previously had life pretty much under control ceased to exist. There was only God in the silence. 


Ruth Haley Barton refers to “the jealous love of God.” She writes in Sacred Rhythms, “As long as we continue to reduce prayer to occasional piety we keep running away from the mystery of God’s jealous love.” When I didn’t feel like anyone else wanted me, God jealously loved me and desired my companionship. That was unfathomable.  I felt worthless, yet the God of the Universe wanted to talk to me in the dark at 5 AM? 


God had His work more than cut out.  My cold stubborn heart had to (as I personalize Barton’s writing) “let God’s creative love touch the most hidden places of my being and …to listen with attentive, undivided heart to the inner movement of the Spirit of Jesus, even when that Spirit was leading me to places I would rather not go.”  I was not in control of our finances, my work, our family, or my church.  I was locked out and didn’t know the way back in. 


I began to let God pry my fingers off those things I had previously treasured.  I begged God for what He alone wanted to transpire in my life, as hard and painful as it was. He had leveled all my previous comforts.  God wanted to build my life in a new and closer way. 


It was in Illinois I learned what I call my “Sidewalk Prayer”: “Lord, I choose to trust You.” I repeated this over every crack in the sidewalk, every step in the dark.  I had no answers and couldn’t find words to express my distress. As Barton says, “We come to Him with empty hands and empty heart, having no agenda.  Half the time we don’t even know what we need; we just come with a sense of our own spiritual poverty.”  I dumped all of it, every awful shaming moment of it all, and came to the cross as an impoverished sinner.  “Lord, I choose to trust You.”  It was in the gloom of the hours before dawn when I learned to listen to the God Who sees in the dark.