The strongest freefall into grace. The words seem to jump out at me from the last line in the post by Ann Voskamp, but when I go back to read it again, I find my eyes have deceived me and I read it wrong. I reread and get it right, “His heart in this strongest freefall into grace….” But the words stay with me throughout the day and I wonder if maybe I got it right the first time – maybe the strongest and the bravest freefall into grace. But how do you do that? I want to know because I have not felt very strong and I dislike this feeling of weak and weary. I am reminded of a past post by John Piper, What to Do If You Wake Up Feeling Fragile, and I go back to reread hoping to find answers. Piper speaks of “desperate prayer and particular promises”. I think about my prayer life and wonder, “have my prayers been desperate?”
Prayer has been a part of my life for as long as I can remember and I have prayed in many places and in many ways. There were the bedtime prayers from my earliest memories when my mother and I knelt beside my bed and she taught me to pray; the awkward teenage prayers mumbled aloud when our family gathered to pray; the prayers for help and guidance uttered in frustration throughout the day as I struggled to raise my young family, and many prayers in-between.
In his book, Life Together, Dietrich Bonhoeffer says many of our prayers are simply prattling in the presence of God. I am certain that most of my prayers have indeed been just that – prattling – an insistent talking born out of frustration or a cumbersome task to fulfill a duty. But when the Lord began to move me through deep waters and refine my heart in the midst of fiery trials, my prayer life began to change. I was a young adult when I found myself back on my knees in prayer and this time it was no longer of duty or even frustration but it was desperation that brought me to my knees. Prayer became more valuable to me than even sleep and I would slip out of bed in the wee hours of the morning, weak, tired, and battle weary, to find the comfort and strength I needed on my knees in prayer.
As I found comfort and solace there on my knees before God, my prayer life began to change and I found myself praying more often throughout the day. I began pray as I walked about my yard in the early morning light and my heart would overflow with thanksgiving and praise even in the midst of my darkest days. I prayed as I looked out my kitchen window almost as though I were talking with a friend. And in the evenings when the cares of the day weigh heavy on my heart and loneliness threatens to dampen my spirit, it has become my habit to carry a cup of tea outside and sit in stillness and pray as the sun sinks below the horizon and the day comes to an end. Sometimes I do not even know what to pray, but I trust that the one who intercedes for me knows what I need. Though I may not always leave with answers at those times sitting there in quiet tranquility, the veil of this world seems very thin, almost translucent, and I am reminded that He is with me.
But despite all the grace that God has given me as He patiently drew me to Himself and taught me how to praise and how to pray, for all the joy, comfort, and peace I have found there in quiet communion with Him, there are still times when I find myself prattling in His presence asking that burdens be lifted and pathways be made smooth.
How is it that I forget how to pray? Maybe what I have forgotten is how to sit quietly and listen – to surrender and trust. Sometimes I feel like a child who has forgotten how to walk or a man who looks in the mirror and straightway forgets what manner of man he is. Perhaps it is because I want the answers to be easy; I want my solutions to work. The Martha within me has demanded that I get up, be strong, and work because there is much to be done. I want to be the strong one and accomplish much; I do not have time for difficulties and weakness. But I have abandoned the Mary who longs to just sit in His presence, and I have forgotten that it is only on those difficult roads when I am weak and weary that I have found His grace is sufficient and His strength is made perfect in weakness. However, today as I think about those words again – the strongest freefall into grace – I know where it is they fall – they fall on their knees in His presence and trust that He chooses the best paths and then provides the grace and strength to travel them.