Saturday, August 23, 2008

The Silence

My prayer life has been a struggle of late. Sometimes it's very hard to enter the presence of the Lord. Maybe I am the only one that feels that way, but it is a struggle that comes around again and again from time to time. Seasons of challenge or busyness, times of struggle or disappointment, the place I need to be most, is the hardest place to go. Sometimes it's just my flesh that keeps me back, well I guess it's always my flesh, but sometimes there seems no other apparent reason.

Many nights like tonight I wander and postpone going to bed, trying to suck the last few hours of quiet out of the night and part of me longs to spend them with the Lord, but many nights like tonight I find myself busy with nothing and nonsense and as I crawl into bed late it is usually with regret as I try to eek out a feeble prayer before falling asleep. Tonight was just such a night and as I lay in my bed, a poem started to form in my mind. The first poem I ever wrote I dreamt and woke up and scribbled it on a piece of paper. Tonight as I was laying in bed with the words forming in my head, I felt the urgency to get up and write this poem out as well.

The Silence

It's the silence that separates us and keeps us apart,
It's the silence that keeps me from touching Your heart.

It's the silence that keeps me from finding the truth,
It's the silence that keeps You seeming aloof.

It's the silence that makes You seem so hard to find,
The sad thing about it, is the silence is mine.

No prayers to seek You or reach out to Your heart,
No prayers to keep us from drifting apart.

No prayers to ask You to lead me Your way,
No prayers to ask for strength for the day.

In the silence You wait, in love and with care,
For me to break it, so You can show me You're there.

By Diana DePriest
© August 23, 2008

Going to bed now it's 2:10 AM, hoping to break the silence soon.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Meat in My Teeth

Do you know the feeling I'm talking about? You've had the steak, it was good, but there's discomfort where the meat has gotten stuck in your teeth. It's not been fully chewed and digested and it's uncomfortable.

I would say this is an accurate metaphor for how I have been feeling spiritually. I have been pondering a lot in my mind recently how much room I have for growth in spiritual discipline and consistency. I've even wondered if I have any spiritual maturity at all. I struggle so much with staying focused and diligent in the things of God.

I was driving to work a couple mornings ago and I thought of the term "creeping crud." My mom used to say it when she felt like she was coming down with something, or if there was a sickness lingering in our home. I've used it to describe our house when sickness has been working its way through my little family too. But when I thought of it this time I thought of it in reference to my flesh, which constantly suffers from some level of spiritual sickness. It's always there, trying to take over.

A couple days ago I read a verse that sort of reached out of the pages and grabbed at my heart. I wish I could say I was having some amazing (committed) devotional time, but as I recall I came across it somewhere other than my bible and then had to go and investigate. It's Psalm 86:11 which says, "Teach me your way, O LORD, and I will walk in your truth; give me an undivided heart, that I may fear your name."

The phrase that really caught my attention, that pierced my heart was "give me an undivided heart." I have been pondering and trying to pray that prayer for myself, all the while trying to fully understand what it exactly means. A lot of my activities and busyness are not negative things, they are spending time with my husband and children, participating in their lives and activities. I'm careful not to be off the deep end with activities, they are each limited to one activity, never interfering with church. But not all of my activities are so benign. There are lots of days when I come home and flop my behind on the couch and vegetate watching TV, lose track of time and purpose and then suddenly find myself rushing the kids through bedtime prayers, often so I can go right back in front of the TV.

Last night I went to bed and somewhat desperately wanted to connect with the Lord by reading my bible. I didn't know where to go, or what to read. I think that is often my challenge and what I allow to deter me from reading it, I lack a plan. So I grabbed my chronological bible that someone gave me as a gift a couple years ago. I opened it to the day's reading and found myself in the book of Ezekiel, chapter 14. As I read, another verse jumped up and grabbed my attention.

Ezekiel 14:3 says, "Son of man, these men have set up idols in their hearts and put wicked stumbling blocks before their faces. Should I let them inquire of me at all?"

Ouch. It occurs to me, have I let idols come between me and the Lord? Have I made the TV an idol of sorts? I looked up the definition of an idol and found this one interesting. idol- a person or thing devotedly or excessively admired... You may have to know me to follow this process. Now I needed to know exactly what admire meant, admire- to regard with pleasure or approval, often mixed with wonder. Could it be? I think perhaps it is worth careful consideration.

The pleasure I have found in "vegging out" in front of the TV has been something I have allowed to hinder me (via a stumbling block) from putting God in the position He deserves in my life. If I'm burnt out, tired or weary, should I be looking for a reprieve from a TV screen? Or perhaps I should consider going somewhere for refreshment and rejuvenation that will actually be effective, not just in the moment, but eternally.

Tonight I was at church and our pastor was teaching on Judges 6. I had one more verse jump up and grab my heart. (OK, part of me, the fleshy part, would really prefer the word quit being so sharp and two-edged.)

"I said to you, 'I am the LORD your God; do not worship the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you live.' But you have not listened to me." Judges 6:10

OUCH! In our world today, the television has become somewhat of a god. It entertains us, it informs us, it teaches us, though not always in a positive way. It also misleads, defiles and desensitizes us. I think, for me personally at least, I need to evaluate what position I have given television in my life.

I'm sort of still walking through this and figuring it out. I've been thinking about how Neal and I have had our struggles, not so much in our marriage, but together in life. And I think about our financial woes, doctor bills and such. And we tithe faithfully, and that's always everyone's first question, "do you tithe?" when we talk about debt. We do. But I must consider that perhaps our prayer for relief is hindered because of those "idols" we may have set in our hearts. I'm still chewing on this meat stuck in my teeth. I haven't fully ascertained the word of the Lord to me on this, through these scriptures. There may be more idols to be dealt with, I trust the Lord will reveal it. At least I've drawn myself away from the "idiot box" to investigate it.

Tonight at church there were awards for the Missionettes program. When the older girls got up they recited their memory verse, it was Psalm 86:11-12 "Teach me your way, O LORD, and I will walk in your truth; give me an undivided heart, that I may fear your name. I will praise you, O Lord my God, with all my heart; I will glorify your name forever." Funny how that same scripture would come back up again, as well as an extension of it. Verse 12, "I will praise you, O Lord my God, with all my heart; I will glorify your name forever."

That's my greatest desire, to walk out this life in such a way that praises and glorifies God. I know that in that process, I have to clean out some of the guck that promotes that "creeping crud" that's constantly taking over. Forgive me for rambling, I'm still just muddling through.