I don’t know about you, but I can go for months at a time with life on cruise control. That doesn’t mean that things aren’t happening or that we are all just sitting around and staring at each other all day. No, I just mean that the routine is in place and we’re following it nicely with maybe just a random hiccup here or there.
During those times, it’s so easy to get complacent; to just keep rolling with the flow of “normal” life. For me, in those times of hyper-normalcy, my prayer life is usually the best. Sounds counter-intuitive, doesn’t it? But it’s just that I have the time (or, more accurately, make the time) to pray!
But then, there are the seasons when it seems like everything is happening at once. I feel like I’m hopping from one extreme to the next, one major event to another. Survival mode becomes the status quo and my prayer life takes the fast track down the drain. Why is that? Why do I forget to pray, just when I need to the most?
Peace in the ordinary
When I have a schedule, I have peace. I don’t need every minute planned. I don’t need every day to be bursting with to-do lists and appointments. But a steady routine, an ebb and flow to my days, makes me a much happier camper. Life can be chaotic and stressful and (that ever-present, almost-swear word) busy, and I won’t be too bothered. Let’s be honest, though. With four growing kids, all of whom are in school and activities, it’s a rare day that doesn’t have just a little hint of chaos.
You know those times when someone asks you what’s going on in your world and you’re like “Oh, my gosh. I’m so busy!” and then you can’t think of a single interesting thing to tell them? I’ll tell you a little secret. Those are my favorite times. I know, it sounds crazy. I’m pretty sure it’s a sickness.
Here’s the thing, though. I find peace in the ordinariness of life. The routine of the school year, making a schedule, planning a menu, organizing my taxi-driving of children in all different directions. I am in my element then. And God knows it. That’s when He hears from me the most. I may not have “Prayer Time” written in on my to-do list, but I am more apt to take those random pockets of free time I get to actually pray and thank Him for the gifts I’ve been given. To show gratitude and ask for His blessings on the life of our family and those we love. It’s a beautiful feeling!
The question I am left with, then, is this. Am I praying more because I feel my life is more peaceful or is my life peaceful because I’m praying more?
I think we both know the answer to that.
Caught in the rain
So, I’m going along all fine. Life is blissfully ordinary. Then the metaphorical rain drops start to fall.
School lets out for the summer. The 15 year-old gets his learner’s permit. The summer’s lack of schedule and the kids’ constant “togetherness” starts to get on everyone’s nerves. I have to go for my first ever mammogram. Two kids end up with cavities at the dentist. And so on and so forth.
It’s nothing terrible, right? And there’s good mixed in! Mornings at the beach, date night with the husband, the big kids are now able to babysit the little kids, old friends move into town. Yet still, with the slipping of my routine starts the sliding of my prayer life.
Then, there are weeks like the one I just had. If I ever doubted that life was a roller-coaster ride, this week reaffirmed it. Here goes:
- 18th wedding anniversary.
- First job interview in 17 years.
- An unexpected death in the family.
- I turned 40 and had a wonderful day.
- Sister came into town to surprise me for my birthday.
- Was offered the job I had interviewed for.
- Received news that my mammogram wasn’t clear and more study is needed.
- My parents came into town.
- Insanely hot and muggy swim meet for all 4 kids.
- Dear friends and neighbors moved away.
- I had my 40th birthday party with friends and family.
- Took my family members to the airport so they could all fly away and leave me.
That was one week, y’all. A Monday through a Sunday. And here it is several days later and I still don’t feel like I have recovered my senses. And you know what else I haven’t done that I should totally do? Yep. You guessed it. I haven’t really prayed about any of it.
The man with the umbrella
So here I am, once again getting soaking wet in the monsoon of life.
There’s a line in the movie Cold Mountain that I’ve always loved. The character Ruby, talking about the war and all of the awful things that are going on around them, says:
They call this war a cloud over the land. But they made the weather and then they stand in the rain and say ‘Shit, it’s raining!’
YES!! I’ll raise my hand! I freely admit that’s what I’m doing when I have all of these crazy things going on in my life and I don’t MAKE the time to pray and ask for God’s help. I may not have caused all of the ruckus (good and bad) that’s going on in my life, but I’m certainly not helping myself deal with it. And, more importantly, I’m not letting the God who loves me help me, either.
I’m standing in the rain and complaining that I’m getting wet instead of looking up and asking for Jesus to send me an umbrella.
See, life is going to happen. Good things, bad things, amazing things, and horrific things. There will be days the sun shines and days that the rains come pouring down. It will happen. That’s just a given. But there’s beauty in that, I think.
As my friend Mary told me, “Just put one foot in front of the other and keep walking. You do not walk alone. Ever.”
That’s right. God WANTS to walk with us. He WANTS to provide for us. He sees our needs and WANTS to fill them with His grace. It’s our own human hearts, our blasted independence, that keeps us from turning to Him. And, if you’re anything like me, sometimes it takes a downpour to remember to turn to Him and ask for help.
So, if you’ll pardon me, I think I’m going to go spend some quiet time right now with the One who is walking with me. And I’m going to beg Him to bring along an umbrella.