A Sweet, Sweet Sound

At this moment squeals of laughter resonate outside my bedroom door as Isaiah sings and strums his “a-tar” to the worship music. What a sweet, sweet sound it is to my ears. How I wish that every child could know that joyous expression of love.

Although I have great affection for all of the students in my classroom, there are certain children who burrow into deepest part of my heart. Most often they are living in homes where chaos reigns and hurtful words and actions abound. One day this week a story came tumbling out from such a child. He described cuddling his wailing sibling while his mother and her boyfriend violently fought just a few feet away. A lamp sailed across the room shattering as it hit the wall. He peeled off his shoe to reveal his bloodstained sock where a broken piece had cut his foot.

After a trip to the nurse I stood for a moment in the hallway and fought back tears, the anger I felt toward his mother burning inside me. My mind raced with furious emotion. I am so mad at her! How could she let this happen to him? How could she pull him into the violence she had created? But as quickly as my thoughts formed the Spirit spoke, “But she is also my child. Pray for her. Pray for her, too.”

And so I am devoted to praying not only for this little one I love, but also for the ones who are committing these atrocities against him. I can be confident that the LORD hears my prayers and will intercede on their behalf. James 6:5 tells me “Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective.” I must confess my own judgemental heart to the Father and pray for healing for this struggling family. I will pray 2 Thessalonians 3:3 over this broken family believing that “…the Lord is faithful, and he will strengthen you and protect you from the evil one.”

And in the interim, I will wait with a thankful heart knowing that God is good and God is just. Letting my prayers of intercession rise, I can know they are received into the throne room of God as a sweet, sweet sound releasing the power of the Spirit. As I confidently wait for the change that will come I will continue to do the work he has established for me. Revealing His love to the ones around me – one little soul at a time.

Tangled Strands

The other day I reached for a necklace only to find it was a mangled mess. I’m not sure how it happened since I store my longer chains in a compartmentalized tray to avoid that predicament, but there it was. I spent several seconds struggling to unbraid the strands pulling one side and then another, only to end up with an even tighter knot. I could feel the blood rising to my face as my frustration increased. Suddenly the Spirit spoke to me saying, “Anne, just one strand at a time.

As I write these words, God is teaching me to apply that same principle to my life. I am being called to a new journey, but the place I long to be seems so far away. I can see the vision in the distance, but the practical to-do list that blocks the path looks more like an endless scroll. My impatience builds and suddenly I am that necklace, tangled and pulled in a million directions, winding myself up into a bigger knot.

Remembering that God has a plan for me can be difficult for this impatient child, but the real question becomes “Do I trust Him?”  Do I trust Him with the timing of my life? Do I trust Him enough to wait?

Isaiah 40:31 speaks to me of the benefits of waiting on the LORD. “But they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.” I am quickly reminded that the times when I am feeling frazzled are directly related to the times when I have not spent enough time with the Lord.

In my eagerness to get to the next place I must be careful not to miss out on the opportunities to do the work He has set before me now. Today. This very moment. The inconveniences, the interruptions, the tangled messes of my life can be the very spots where real miracles take place. He is calling me to yield to His will taking the time to unravel my life one strand, one story, one precious person at a time.

Lord,  forgive me for my impatience. Help me to remember that you have a plan for me that will be revealed in Your time. Keep calling out to my heart, Lord. I long to know You more.

Watching My Witness

This past summer my entire family spent a beautiful week on the shores of South Carolina. On the last day of our vacation I sat on the balcony overlooking the ocean with my twenty-two month old grandson. We watched the waves lazily lap up on the sand against the back drop of a robin’s egg  blue sky and I began to pray aloud. I thanked God for the wonderful family time we had spent together, asked for traveling mercies as each one made the journey home and said a special prayer of healing for the little one in my lap. He had taken a fall the afternoon before and had been limping around on an obviously sore ankle.

Anyone watching us from a distance would not have necessarily known that I was praying. I wasn’t in a typically recognized prayer posture – my head wasn’t bowed, my hands weren’t folded and my eyes were wide open. I simply sat in the sunshine with Isaiah and had an out loud conversation with Jesus. And that morning a most remarkable thing happened when I’d finished speaking to the Lord. As I closed my prayer I said, “Thank-you, Jesus” and without pause a little voice piped up and said, “Amen.” I was so blessed in that moment. I’d had no idea that he was even paying attention to what I was saying or doing and yet in the mysterious, wonderful working of the Spirit he had become my little prayer partner.

That experience reminded me how important my witness is in this world. What I do and say matters even when I think that nobody is paying attention. My witness is so much more than just the times I spend in front of the congregation leading worship when I know people are watching me. The opportunities for which I have come prepared to sing or to speak – cleaned up and clarified– ready to share what God has called me to do are tremendous, but what of those other times? The times when I am blindsided with the unexpected or encounter a critic – what does my witness look like then? Am I still the sunny, smiling woman full of kindness and patience? Or do I fall into the trap of complaining and adopt a woe-is-me attitude? I wince at the thought of some of the reactions I have had when the world-according-to-Anne doesn’t cooperate.

Then there are the daily miniscule interactions I have with the ones around me in the lines in which I wait or with the people I pass in the hallways. Do each of these say “There’s a woman after God’s own heart!” When no one is noticing, am I living as if they were? My witness matters in these times too, because even when no human eyes see me, there is One who knows my every thought and every word. Is my life a living, breathing, praising act of worship to the One who created me and loves me far beyond my own ability to fathom?

Micah 6:8 says that my witness should be to “To act justly and to love mercy  and to walk humbly with your God.” I want to live like that, but if I am to walk humbly with God then I must to stick close by Him in loving obedience, not impatiently running up ahead or lackadaisically lagging behind. Ultimately, I want what I do and say to point to Jesus in the extraordinary and the mundane, the expected and the surprises, and even when I think that nobody else is watching or listening. After all, I might just get an unexpected, “Amen.”