Lately, the sun has been rising at just about the time when I get ready for work. Earlier this week, I called my husband Lyle to come look at the gorgeous red streaked sky as he was getting up. Sitting down to start my blog this morning, another sunrise greeted me. You could almost hear the music in the background. It’s a great backdrop as I form into words where God has met me this week.
It was early Tuesday morning that I awoke for my regular prayer time before work. This particular morning I was feeling pretty down. The day before had been Halloween. The annual party at school had been great and I always love giving out treats to the neighbourhood in the evening, but I was feeling down for a different reason.
In between giving out treats, I had been working on my questions for our Wednesday night study on the theme of Wisdom in the Bible. The last question had been, “What are some of the life questions you have at this time in your life?” I thought back to the question our pastor Paul Patterson had challenged me with a while back. He’d asked me why I often don’t have peace about my vocation of teaching, even though I know God meets me there constantly. Why indeed? Admitting a weakness is never easy. “Here I am, 50 years old,” I thought to myself, “shouldn’t I be heading into my wisdom years instead of grappling with a lack of peace in my heart at work?”
I should say that it’s not that I don’t love the kids or love doing my job. Every day the kids call out the best in me. I love their honesty, energy and kindness. I love how they soak up new experiences. It’s just that when problems arise, my heart can get troubled and it’s like I’ve dropped the keys to everything and I wonder where the joy went. Answering the questions and emailing them to the group (as we all do) brought the question to my awareness.
One of the wisdom books of the Hebrew scripture (the Old Testament) is the book of Ecclesiastes. It talks a lot about the folly of life, and asks the same question. Where is God in a life that often seems like “dust in the wind”? Where is God when our shortcomings seem to get the best of us? The book acknowledges this struggle, but still ends with a verse that stayed with me all week, “Remember God in the days of your youth”
So I sat down to my early morning prayer time with a heavy heart, with this question for God. Where is the peace of heart that is supposed to pass all understanding? Over the years, Paul has often reminded us that God will always come through for us when we pray with an honest and searching heart. I hung on to that truth like a life preserver as I sat down to pray.
There’s a parable in the New Testament of the persistent widow. She goes to a judge who doesn’t really care about God or even people and this widow has not received justice against her adversary. She pounds on the judge’s door and for a while he refuses to help. Finally he says, “Because she keeps bothering me, I will see that she gets justice so that she won’t eventually wear me out!” The point of the parable is that if this grouchy judge will help the widow, how much more will God help us in our troubles? The parable also asks of us, do we have faith and persistence like the widow did, believing that God will help us?
I thought about her that morning and all that week. I felt like I too was pounding on the door, pleading for help, refusing to go away. “Help me to remember God that You are stronger than all the doubts I have. Grant me peace of heart.”
God answered my prayers. This week I found peace settling back in my heart. It wasn’t just when lessons went well, but in the normal bumps in the road that come up every day. It was like someone pulled the camera back to show the bigger view of things. Troubles don’t need to take my peace away. An image came to me of a ship at sea, and how it is built to withstand storms. I want to be like that ship, exercising long-suffering when things got tough.
When I had to decide on the experience to share this week in my blog, I kept coming back to this answered prayer. It was difficult to decide to share it because I knew it meant I needed to be honest about my weakness. I’m hoping I’m not the only one who loses equanimity and peace and comes to God with a sad heart in need of healing.
One of my favorite quotes of all time says it all. The playwright Eugene O’Neill (someone who grappled with major depression in his life) says, “We are born broken. We live by mending. God’s grace is the glue.” There’s always two parts to the equation – our fragile human lives so tangled up with troubles, and God who always goes before us and figures out the way through.
It’s like God backed up his message to me with the visual reminders of the sunrises. “I am all about new beginnings,” God said to me. “Every day we start again, a new chance, remembering that we are forgiven and infinitely loved.”
For anyone reading this who is grappling with the first half of the equation, I wish you faith as you pound on the door. God’ll always answer.