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Sunday, January 01, 2006

2006 A Year Of Prayer

I was going through my old email today, trying to get it decluttered for the new year. Someone had sent me this picture early in the year last year. How often we forget that the best things in life can't be bought.

Last Year's Thinking: I wish I had that.

This Year's Thinking: Don't look at what you don't have, look at what you do have.

This Year's Thinking: Ask believing in My Name and you shall receive it.

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, The Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God. - 2 Corinthians 1:3-4

God does answer prayer.
Yesterday evening I went to the New Years Eve service at church. Before I left, my hip was hurting almost to the point of tears. When I got to church I sat in the pew and couldn't get comfortable for anything. Everytime we stood, I'd get to where I was almost standing up straight and a twinge of pain would catch me everytime and shoot through my whole body. The sermon was about the theme for the church for the coming year. The theme this year is A Year of Prayer. The story about the guy who had his hip dislocated, by God while wrestling with Him, came to mind. During the invitation, the Pastor asked all where going to commit to praying this year to come to the alter and make that commitment with God.

The one thing that I've been thankful for is being able to "outrun the call to come to the alter". God has done a tremendous change in my life in the past forty days. I feel like I've been working over-time to get my heart and attitude right. This past week I kept telling God I don't understand what's taking so long, haven't I done everything you've asked. I think I've said this before...when you ask God a question, He will answer you. The one thing that I haven't been doing enough of is praying. I could make a million excuses and justifications for why I can't get on my knees.

When the Pastor said, "if you will make a commitment to pray this year, just raise your hand" of course, I raised my hand. When he said, "if you raised your hand then you need to come down to the alter and make a commitment to God", I opened my eyes and thought...yikes, I opened my eyes during invitation, well...know you've got to go down there...nooooo, I don't want to go down there...GO!...noooooo...hey, wait...maybe my daughter will go down there with me. So I poked my daughter and said, "hey, go down there with me". Of course, she looked at me like I was crazy and said, "Noooooo!" then quickly squeezed her eyelids shut again. I HAVE to go down there...I've had my eyes open too long. In my mind, your not suppose to know what's going on during invitation unless your "doing business" yourself. The last place you want to be nosey is in God's house.

Well, I limped up there and kneeled and prayed, really prayed. I stood up and walked back to my pew. It didn't hit me until after invitation was over and we were all waiting for the next part of the service which was going to the other building to eat. They were giving the results for the chili cook off and homemade pie contest when I sat there and then moved around a little and then looked at my daughter. She looked back at me like what are you going to ask me now and whispered, "WHAT?!" 'It doesn't hurt.' "Huh?" 'My hip. It doesn't hurt anymore.'

As we were leaving to go to the other building, people were standing in line to have a sheet of paper taped on their back with a name on it. The game was to ask people yes or no questions to try and guess "who you are." I was watching as people were getting their names and one of the assistant pastor's wives asked me if I was going to play. I told her I am terrible at putting a name with people and what they've done or what they are known for. The whole time I was thinking I've got to figure out that guy's name in the story so I can look it up.

This morning I came home from church and my husband broke the news to me that his mother had died early that morning and he'd just been told. If you knew me and my husband, you would know exactly why I would want to think God, why now? What could you possibly be thinking? And I'm supposed to keep the right attitude with this? MY PLATE IS FULL!

Needless to say, I was so glad I had the excuse to go to church and even left a little early. Trust me, there was nothing better I could do for him than leave him alone to talk on the phone to his family. At the beginning of the pastor's sermon he said that he was going to preach on something else, but felt like he should continue his sermon from the previous night. I came very close to getting upset. He was telling us faith isn't a feeling it's a choice, quit pouting because you don't feel like you have enough faith, your feelings don't mean anything, it's not all about what you feel it's about what you choose. My argument was I'm not pouting, God gave me these feelings, yes I've questioned if I have enough faith or not because I couldn't feel it, you don't have a clue what God and I have been through together, what do you mean my feelings don't matter, MY SPIRITUAL PLATE IS FULL TOO! Right before I felt the strong urge to leave before I busted out crying, I felt a calm come over me and say he's not talking about your faith, you've chosen to have faith, what your feeling is emotion, which I did give you, remember the story.

During invitation, I was relieved that I had not been convicted to go down to the alter. I had planned to make a quick exit, but my friend Sara caught me and said, "I wanted to get you a card or something to tell you, but I just thought I should go ahead and let you know, I admire you. You encourage me to keep coming to church when my husband's not able to come with me (Her husband joined the Army) because you come to every service without your husband. You would never know that you're going through all the stuff that you are. You're one of the strong ones. You're not like one of those people the Pastor was talking about."

Something I remember saying on several occasions in my past is I don't like being the strong one. I think it was because I didn't understand where my strength came from. Now I understand that it's not by my own strength that I'm strong, God is my strength. My faith is strong because God is my strength to believe. As I was waiting for the service to start, I was looking for the story, but couldn't find it. I settled on reading Isaiah 12.

About the 5th time through Isaiah 12, one of the elders in the church (I don't know if that's his true title, but that's how my spirit perceives him) came and shook my hand. One of the things that has stuck with me that he told me several services ago was that he always looked forward to shaking my hand to see my smile. Anyway, he usually just says he's happy that I'm there, but this time he asked me a question. "How has your year gone so far?" I told him it had been going really good so far. He looked at me and said, "are you sure?" 'Well, actually my husband's mother died this morning and he just doesn't understand.' "You know that you can't do anything except pray." 'I don't understand. Why can't there be just something even small that I can do?' "There is. You can pray."

I came home and found the story:
So Jacob was left alone, and a man wrestled with him till daybreak. when the man saw that he could not overpower him, he touched the socket of Jacob's hip so that his hip was wrenched as he wrestled with the man. Then the man said, "Let me go, for it is daybreak." But Jacob replied, "I will not let you go unless you bless me." The man asked him, "What is your name?" "Jacob," he answered. Then the mans said, "Your name will no longer be Jacob, but Israel, because you have struggled with God and with men and have overcome." Jacob said, "Please tell me your name." But he replied, "Why do you ask my name?" Then he blessed him there. So Jacob called the place Peniel, saying, "It is because I saw God face to face, and yet my life was spared." -Genesis 32:24-30
On New Years Eve I prayed at the alter, "Okay God, You win. I will pray, but please bless me."


Blogger SomeoneWhoCares said...

Annette, I loved your post and I included a link to your blog mentioning the prayer in the heading and the story of Jacob on this blog:

God bless!

Monday, January 02, 2006 4:49:00 AM  

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