Friday, November 25, 2011

Never Lose Heart

--

The sky directly above me was dark and close with low, dense clouds. Across the valley, visible in peek-a-boo splendor, the sunrise was happening above and beyond the thick bank of clouds. You see, the sun rises in flaming beams of gilded glory even when our view is obscured by an ocean of clouds--it is always warm, always beautiful, always radiant. 

"Then he gave them an illustration to show that they must always pray and never lose heart."

Dr. Luke tells his readers at the beginning of this chapter exactly the principle Jesus was illustrating before he relates the parable Jesus told. Nice of him, don't you think? This time at least, there is no treasure hunt for a truth veiled in a cryptic story we may or may not fully understand--I love that! This was a parable about an unjust judge who, though reluctant and uncooperative at first, was ultimately persuaded to give justice to a woman because of her persistence in pleading her case. Luke tells us Jesus used this illustration as a contrast--if even an unjust, unwilling judge can be persuaded by persistence, then how much more will a just, loving Father swiftly grant justice to His children when they ask Him . . . and keep asking.  Jesus wanted us to see that we "must always pray and never lose heart."

Oh what hard, skeptical hearts we have! When the answers we seek don't arrive looking the way we'd hoped, or in the time frame we thought was vital, we may take the apparent silence as indifference or neglect or lack of love; we may think it means God is displeased with us or put off by our requests, and we don't want to keep bothering Him when He apparently doesn't want to respond. So we go off in a spiritual corner and feel forgotten and wonder which way is up.

Always pray and never lose heart.

Almost a year ago, sitting at a computer in one of our local libraries, I poured out my heart like this:

I just asked God for a parking space . . . and He gave me one.

After driving around and around in the dark with 4 other cars competing in a magnified game of musical chairs, minus the music and not even a single space to vie for, finding nothing, driving away on my way to somewhere I didn't want to go, changing my mind in frustration, turning around and going back to try one more time, I prayed: 

Father God, I used to find it so easy to ask You for things like parking spaces or to help me find my keys or to show up in a thousand little details of my daily existence.  Lately it feels like life is handing me a lot of brick walls and I'm so afraid You're going to say 'no' I just don't want to ask You for anything.  But against the way I feel, and scraping together the tatters of the faith that used to feel so strong, I'm ASKING, can You find me a parking space?


Please.

I pulled in and, as if on cue, I saw a man step out through the double doors, walking to his car--there was no one else driving around in the parking lot--the space was mine for the taking.  God gave it to me as sure as I live and breathe.  THAT was an answer to prayer.  You may think a parking space is a silly thing to ask God for and you may think the fact that I found one was just a coincidence, nothing more than lucky timing.  Not. A. Chance.

I look back on that December night, and my faith that was so threadbare, and I see why Jesus concluded with sorrowful wondering ". . . However, when the Son of Man comes, will He find [[h]persistence in] faith on the earth?" Luke 18:8b AMP   It would break my heart to give Him reason to wonder. I long to be one who persists in my faith in Him no matter what obscures my view, continuing to trust Him enough to keep praying always, and living each day with such confidence in His warmth, His goodness, His beauty and radiance, that I will NEVER LOSE HEART.

________________________________

Joining Ann Voskamp in counting His graces for her Multitudes on Monday
I hope you'll join in if you haven't already!
In the counting of the endless gifts I say with C. S. Lewis,
"This also is Thou!"

#911-925
911. Insightful children
912. A new day, a new week, a new chance to improve
913. Wisps of steam rising like visible prayers off Hero Husband's crisp, white dress shirt as I iron the wrinkles out of it, and lifting prayers of my own that he'll have a good day in that shirt
914. The sleepy resolve of getting out of bed when the alarm says it's time
915. The phrase "right as rain."
916. The glistening gloss of melted butter brushed on homemade rolls fresh out of the oven
917. The generosity of God's provision for us.
918. Getting to be part of Hero Husband's family
919. Hero Husband's fried turkeys
920. Candlelight
921. City lights from a high vantage point
922. Thanksgiving Dinner, round 2, with scalloped corn--after all, I am an Iowa girl!
923. Fire in the fireplace, and us all relaxing together around it
924. When God is my alarm clock
925. A church service that was interactive--something I've always dreamed about!

   Beauty in His Grip Button




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