Faith in the Can

“Dear God. PLEASE let her sleep until I get the laundry folded and put away!”

It’s ok. I know you say prayers like this too- desperate prayers, maybe somewhat pathetic, first-world-problem prayers. That’s why I feel comfortable sharing, knowing that you won’t judge.

My little one had not slept great for her nap the day before, so I had a particularly severe case of naptime paralysis today. There were so many things I needed to catch up on that I ignored them all and showered instead.

Miraculously, she slept through me taking my shower. When I got out, I faced the loads and loads of laundry that needed to be put away (literally, right in front of me as I got out of the shower; there was no more ignoring it.). As I started to fold the shirts, the socks, the pants, I breathed my prayer of desperation. Little did I know the brief, but impactful journey my faith was about to go on while I folded, matched, folded.

My work was frenzied and anxious, because I desperately wanted to get this done before she woke up. And I heard God whisper,

“Why don’t you trust Me?”

Ouch!

“What do You mean, God? Of course I trust You. I know that you can help her to stay asleep until I get this done.”

“Yes, I know that you believe that I CAN, but do you believe that I WILL?”

I don’t know if you struggle with this or not, but I have no problem intellectually believing that God can do anything. Even with that faith, I found that I was struggling to trust that He will do things that I pray– not as a cosmic genie, but as a loving Father who loves (longs!) to hear me ask for help. I have faith in the “can”, but not in the “will.”

See, I have been struggling lately (truth: for a long, long time) with anxiety. Recently, I learned about the concept of breath-prayers. Short verses or truths that you repeat as a prayer to God to change your self-talk, to change your belief, to pray without ceasing (when breathing reminds you to pray- you pray a lot more often!). I have been breath-praying, “I cast all my anxiety on You, because You care for me.” And I think, during laundry He wanted to begin to teach me how to really believe that. He brought this verse to mind, Matthew 7:11.

Matthew 7:7,11 New International Version

“Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you…If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!

God wanted my mommy heart to hear that in the same way that giving my little one just what she needs brings me great joy, He desires to help us in our struggles. He desires to hold us through our fears, to calm us in our anxiety. And I think He wanted you to hear this today too, because she is just waking up…

He lovingly pulls us not only

to have faith in His power that He can help us

but also

have faith in His love that He will.

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Apologetically Christian: A Blue Like Jazz Book Review

Blue Like Jazz is a must read for anyone who hates Christians.

Blue Like Jazz is the book that I wish I had written.

Blue Like Jazz is one of those moments in my life when so many thoughts and feelings finally converge into clarity and truth, bringing liberation and life.

Donald Miller somehow combines raw, real feeling and spiritual questioning into a masterpiece where Christians apologize to the “heathen” and Jesus’ true teachings are fully illuminated. Shelves could be filled with the books, seminars, messages from the pulpit, and writings defending Christianity, intellectually debating the legitimacy of scripture, and unapologetically proclaiming God.

Blue Like Jazz brings a brisk slap-in-the-face reality check, that perhaps Christians do need to do a little apologizing. Perhaps, laying down our defenses and loving unconditionally (no, really, unconditionally; not pretend “churchy” unconditionally) is just what this world needs to see the real Jesus. The real Jesus who was named a friend of tax collectors (the hated) and sinners (the despised). Blue Like Jazz challenged me to forgive myself for the times that I have failed to love, and to start now to love- unconditionally and apologetically.

Blue Like Jazz tells the story of so many of the kids who grew up in the church and had to leave when they found out that the “world” wasn’t full of demon-worshippers and hateful people. The kids who were confused at why the people outside the church were kinder than those who were in it. The kids who always felt like they were the red-headed-step-child, but found a place of belonging with the hippies in the woods (you’ll have to read it to understand that part 😉 ). The kids who desperately wanted to believe in Jesus, but got blinded along the way by His followers.  The kids who loved God, but didn’t want to be Republicans. Have you been there? Read this book.

Blue Like Jazz is the story of a kid like me. I wish I had written Blue Like Jazz.

Finally, Don brings into focus so many questions and lays out beautifully the clarity that can be experienced in the midst of the questions. There’s no guilt that having faith means having doubts. There’s no lie, no wall built as if Christians have all of the answers.  There’s just faith and a belief that following Jesus means life, because Jesus frees us from ourselves.  His teachings illuminate the greatest lie and free us from it.  The greatest lie is that life is a story about me. That my needs, wants, and desires, when fulfilled, will bring me the greatest happiness.  The truth is found in the teaching of Jesus that whoever loses his life will find it. Serving others is the highest calling. Loving others is the most powerful tool.

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I wish I could do Blue Like Jazz justice in a short book review. I can’t. You just have to read it.  If you’ve read it once already- read it again. I know I will. The pages are underlined and dog-eared, but now I need to find my highlighter. It’s just that good.