Life can be quite overwhelming. So much so that days blur into one another, memories become hazy, and everything barely makes a connection. I, for one, can fully attest to the fact that I often get caught up in the whirlwind. While studying for finals, I literally forgot what day of the week it was and missed an appointment I had to make. So lost was I in the task at hand that nothing else seemed to matter. If that’s how bad I got with the days of the week, you can then make the conjecture as to how I’d gotten with everything else including my spiritual welfare.

Things consume us and we get sidetracked from the path we must tread to reach Him. We all stray for one reason or another. I know I do. And because I do, I take great comfort in the following verse from Psalm 119: “I have strayed like a lost sheep. Seek your servant, for I have not forgotten your commands.” It is a short admission–I have strayed like a lost sheep coupled with a prayer–Seek your servant, for I have not forgotten your commands. It seems like such a counter-intuitive thing to ask of God. “I have strayed so come find me” as opposed to “I have strayed and shall return.” But God makes it easy for us… as long as we do not forget His commands, when we stray He will seek us out and encircle us in His loving arms. All we have to do is ask and remember. We must remember His commands and inscribe them on our hearts so that way when the world begins to spin at a pace that knocks us off the path, when we cry out “Seek your servant” He will come speedily. We all get sidetracked sometimes, but God is ever-faithful and hears the cries of His children.

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My mind has been plagued by “What if?”s lately. What if this hadn’t happened? What if I had not said this? What if? What if? WHAT IF?

We are told to not worry about tomorrow for tomorrow will worry about it’s own things; sufficient for the day is its own troubles. We aren’t told anything about worrying about yesterday and wondering what things would be like if it had been different. But something about this thought process strikes me as wrong and flawed. There is something quite contrary to the notion that we are to always be in positive action that clashes with a mind caught in the past and what has happened.

There is also something that reeks of ingratitude about it. In the prayer of thanksgiving, we give thanks for every condition, in any condition, and concerning every condition. But a thought process devoted to wondering what if the past had been different does not give thanks for the past conditions. It is the very essence of ingratitude. It is defiantly telling God, “I may say I trust in Your will and that all that You do for me is done for the best, but I still think I could have worked it out better.”

This thought process also robs us of our ability to rejoice, and we are told to rejoice always. When caught in what has been and what could have been, there is no room left to rejoice in the present moment. There is no room to give thanks for now. There is no room to live.

There may not be an express warning about getting lost in the “What if?”s of yesterday (that I know of, if you have any please share) but the very thought process contradicts several of the commands we are given. I cannot submit my present will to Him if I cannot accept His past will for me. Time to leave “What if?” in the past.

“Verily, verily I say unto you, today you shall be with me in paradise,” came the proclamation.
Yet, I cannot remember where I came from.
But I know I desperately wish to return.
It is cold and dark here and the roof has sprung a leak.

I seem to have run into a small problem lately. Like the majority of girls and women out there, I have my arsenal of beauty products that I keep at the ready. Out of these products there are some that are used quite often and on a regular basis, like my facial lotion or my face wash. Within the past few months, I ventured out into the retail world at different times to restock on some of my basics, and each time I would come back empty-handed. The answer from the store clerk was the same each time I asked for something, “Sorry miss, it’s been discontinued.” I would go home, sorely disappointed and mourning the loss of my dependable product that has been a part of my life for a good amount of time.

I was telling a friend of my recent dilemma over lunch and she simply laughed out loud and said, “Your life has been discontinued.” I too had to laugh at that, because it was such an extreme statement. No, my life had not been discontinued, but calling the discontinuation of various products a “dilemma” was just as dramatic of a statement. My dilemma is no dilemma at all. I will simply find replacement products, which will most likely be even better than the ones I had been loyal to for so long.

And so the same can be said for all things in life. We have things that we deem to be essential and necessary to us and our lives and we are devastated when they’re taken away in one manner or another. We get angry and yell things out toward the heavens like “Why, oh God, why?” God must be punishing us for taking away the things we’ve deemed good. But that could not be farther from the truth.

When we pray in the Lord’s Prayer, “Thy will be done,” and we truly mean it, then we trust that all things done in our lives and all things that happen are done for goodness. God may take away something seemingly good to us and it may hurt and the loss may be hard but He is only making room for what is even better. “And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.” (Romans 8:28)

Entry written on Sunday, April 20, 2008…

“On my Knees”

On a most ridiculous trip up and down the turnpike with my honorary roommate (we kept missing our exit somehow and drove up and down the state of New Jersey for a good 2 hours) I became very well acquainted with Carrie Underwood’s new CD. Now, she’s not an artist I’d go out of my way to listen to but that was the CD in the car so I had very little say in the matter. I discovered a few things. I actually kind of like her music, her lyrics are hilarious (see the song “Last Name”) and she’s actually got some profound phrases mixed in with all the country verve.

In the song “Flat on the Floor” she belts about a heartbreak and tells the man that he can’t live without her and so on and so forth, but in between the “baby, baby, baby, baby tell me why you gotta make me, make me, make me, make me cry?” and “baby, baby, baby, baby tell me how you think you’re gonna live without my love now?” she does say one thing that sticks with me…

“You can’t knock me off my feet when I’m already on my knees…”

It’s an expression of something most people have felt before in one way or another–the feeling that nothing worse can be done to you because the worst has already happened. It is simultaneously a cry of pain and a challenge to the oncoming aggressor. At once she tells him “look at how much you’ve hurt me, I’m on my knees in pain” and challenges him to do his worst because she’s in a position of utmost stability and security. She puts it simply, the easiest way to thwart a foe coming to knock you off your feet is to get on your knees and pray.

The image of the broken woman on her knees reads as a vision of prayer. And once it becomes a vision of prayer, the broken woman becomes harder than a diamond and more resilient than steel. The position of sorrow and submission transforms into that of joy and power all because prayer can move mountains, part seas, and it might just be the only thing that can mend a broken heart.

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It is when we finally learn to kneel in prayer, when we have come to the understanding of the fact that we are weak, we cannot mend our own aches and pains, we cannot move mountains or change the world on our own, we cannot live with our pride that keeps us stiff and upright before men, that we can truly lift up our hearts to the Lord and call upon His name. When I mention kneeling in prayer, I do not mean it figuratively only, but the literal act of kneeling before the Lord when we pray. Bring yourself lower to the ground when praying, lift up your heart to the heavens, and soon you will find your whole being transported upward to the heavens, close enough for you to kiss the sky.

                                            

P.S. – Ok, so Carrie Underwood doesn’t actually say anything about prayer in her song, but I still see it that way…

… for all that’s been lost. A prayer for the aftermath…

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Currently listening to: “All will be Forgotten” by Holly Brook

An answer for our darkest times…

“Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light” (Matthew 11:28-30).