Friday, January 19, 2007

I Didn't Know, What I Didn't Know...

Father, I lift up to you, this morning, parents of adult children. It’s one thing to be a young parent - to wonder if you’re “doing it right”; if you’re making the right decisions for your children - for their present and their future. But Lord, as I am now a parent of adult children, I can see, “I didn’t know, what I didn’t know…”

I didn’t know what my parents were feeling and worrying about when I became an adult. I didn’t know how they still worried and prayed for me when I was no longer the child. I didn’t know how difficult it was to completely trust You, while having absolutely “no say in the matter” of my decisions.

God, I didn’t know what I didn’t know.

But, now I know…

Father, I thank You for our children, for the Christians they are, and the sound decisions they are making. I pray for them Lord, that they would always turn to You, listening for Your voice and then serve You.

And Father, I lift up to You, young adults all around us, yes, indeed, all over the world, but particularly those we know. I pray for their safety, and their choices, and their relationships with You. Though I pray for teenagers, I mean now, those who are clearly “adults” with lives, marriages, children and careers of their own. Those who are, where we’ve so clearly been…

But Father, I especially pray for their parents. I smile Lord when I think of the phrase, “I are one, now…” And, most all my friends “are one”, too.

How Lord, do we turn them over to You; totally and completely to You? When our children were young we “said” we “gave them to You”, but still, we were responsible for their daily care - for making the decisions about that care.

But now Lord. We’re no longer responsible for that care, and we truly have to turn them over to You. For some it is easier - they have found their soul-mates, they have careers and are settled into “life.” It’s easy to say, “Lord, I give them to You…

But for some, Lord, it is a very difficult statement to make. Some are making bad decisions that we know will come back to haunt them. Some are in bad relationships that break our hearts. Some have turned their backs on You, or if not outright rejection, then lackadaisical attitudes and apathy. Lord, some are lazy, some are indifferent, some have difficult and dangerous jobs and some, oh God, some are going off to war…

How in the name of all that is Holy, how, do we turn these over to You? How in the world did Abraham do it? I thought I understood his story. Indeed, even now it’s still mostly a “mental” understanding, because “I” am not having to commit “my” children’s lives to you - well, I am, as they could be in harm’s way at any given moment, but not like this, Lord. Not in the way that my friends are.

God, I can’t even imagine the anguish they feel; the sheer sense of “help-less-ness.”

Once, I had a child lying near death. And the complete surrender I had to make to You is the only thing that carried me through that, but, that was an “instance”, a “happening” that took place in a matter of days - but this Lord, this is a way of life - this is their “job”, this, will be months…

How have the parents of soldiers always felt, Lord? My mind began at Vietnam, then drifted back to Korea, and the “Great” wars. But then You carried me (in this moment of prayer) back further still to the Civil War, the Independence War, and indeed back through the ages, for every war, conflict, “police action” or confrontation that has ever taken place - for every young person who went into battle - there has been a parent crying, worrying, praying… for their care.

How did our parents do it? I didn’t know, that I didn’t know they were struggling to “let go, and let God…”

How did Mary watch Jesus on the cross? How in the world did she do that? If I think of it literally, I can’t even imagine…

How did Abraham raise his arm with the sword in his hand? Again, if I think of a sword, literally in my hand, poised over the heart of my child, I can’t imagine…

Thankfully, we don’t know what we don’t know… And when the time comes for us “to know” then You are there - as the song says, “Just when I need Him most…” “Just when I need Him, Jesus is near; just when I falter, just when I fear; ready to help me, ready to hear; just when I need Him most…

Father, I lift up to You, “parents of adult children”. God! It’s so hard to give them to You. “God I believe, help Thou my unbelief…”

In Jesus’ name, Amen

Sunday, January 14, 2007

Where is our hunger, Lord?

Where is our hunger Lord, to hear Your Word; to know Your Word; to live Your Word? Worship is a wonderful thing, and a needful thing, we were created to worship You, but Lord, where is our hunger to know You intimately?

There is only one way to know You, and that is to spend time with You. To spend time in prayer and time in learning more about You. It is not all our pastor’s responsibility - but it is their responsibility to teach us, and to lead us in the instruction of Your Word.

God! I am so burdened! I hear of churches all over where Your Word is not taught! Where “programs” and “agendas” are levied and pushed to the forefront. God! Where are Your messengers? Where are Your prophets? Where, oh God, are Your teachers?

I cry, and tears stream down my face. My heart breaks, and my soul is in anguish. I only want to lie upon my bed and escape the fear I feel when I see these things happening. I want to pull the pillows over my head and pretend that all is ok. But, I know it isn’t…

Where and to what oh God, are You calling me? Doggone it God! I thought I knew! I thought a path of direction had presented itself. I want to throw rocks and kick gravels in the road. I want to yell out. Things were going smoothly!

And now, there’s a knot in my gut. How is it Lord that You open one door, and prepare one way, and yet another of the “spinning plates” begins to wobble?

I cry Lord, for friends I know, in Churches I know, that are not “feeding their sheep.”

God, what has happened to the shepherds? Where are our teachers…?

And, to what are You calling us…?

I cry out in the Name of the One who wept, who declared how like a mother hen He would have gathered the chicks, but they would not… in Jesus’ Name, I cry, Amen…

Monday, January 08, 2007

Prayer for the children

Two things prompted this prayer - first: a friend of mine e-mailed me last week and asked me to pray for her child. This “child” is an adult in the eyes of the law, but will always be her “child.”

This “20-something” was raised in a Christian home, and in Church, but now is not attending Church, which is indicative of our culture as many young adults are searching for their own way, their own faith, and their own beliefs.

And I got to thinking about my e-mail list. Some of them I don’t know, but an awful lot I do know. And, I know their children. Some of them have small children, some of them have teenagers (bless their hearts - they will live through it!) but the majority of them have older children, and children who are young adults with children themselves.

And I thought, “I pray for all of the list members regularly, but I’ve never thought to pray for their children, specifically…” And so, I will…

The second thing that prompted this prayer was John (our younger son) packing up and moving back to the dorm for the second semester. (Actually, he would have gladly stayed in the dorm over Christmas break if they’d have let him!) And I see his determination, his direction, and his questions. He is a young adult, yes, but he is still my child - as is our older son, even though he is married (to a wonderful young woman, I might add) he is still my child, and I pray for him (for “them” now.)

And so, I pray…

Father, I lift up to you this morning these children of my friends. I see their faces and call their names. I pray for them, Father - for their struggles in their different stages of life.

For the little ones, whose problems and concerns may seem so trivial to us, help us to see the weight that these worries place on them. Help us to see the “parable” in this - that no matter how trivial our own anxieties may be - if it concerns us, You are interested. You care. If it concerns them, Father, help us to be interested. Help us to listen and be there.

For the older children - those wobbling back and forth between childhood and adolescence and adulthood; those whose “bodies” cry “grownup” and whose minds still want to cling to “mommy” and “daddy.” Father, help us to be there for them.

Give us grace to stand hovering with outstretched arms to catch them when they stumble, while still allowing them to discover the “rock strewn path” on their own. Lord, help us to realize that we can’t sweep every obstacle out of their way. That just as the caterpillar must struggle to break out of the cocoon, these, our dear children, must struggle too, to become adults. I just pray Father, that they always know our love.

And then, Lord, I pray for our children the “adults in the eyes of the law” but in whose eyes we still see the child wavering sometimes. I pray for these young men and young women. I pray for the decisions they must make, for the career paths they must choose, for the mates they seek, and Lord, for the faiths, the rocks upon which they build.

We realize Lord, that it’s a little late for us to start teaching morality at this point. And we cling to the parable of “train up a child in the way he/she should go…” but still, we realize that there is no guarantee that they will serve You. And so, we pray for them.

Help us to remember Lord, that we were once their age. That, we once “had all the answers”, too. And we pray for that “time” when they come to understand that they don’t have all the answers. We know, Lord, that it will come, it’s only a matter of when, and under what circumstances it comes.

Help us to be there for them - help us to teach them that You are always there for them, as You indeed are for us. We understand Lord, that You have no “grandchildren”; that each and every individual must “choose this day Whom ye will serve.” And we pray, gracious Father, that our children will stand and say, “But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord!”

I pray, my dear Father, for these children of my friends. And I pray for my own as well. For no matter how old they grow, and no matter if they are caring for us, they will still be our children, and we love them.

In Jesus’ name - Amen.