Let Us Begin

Yesterday is gone. Tomorrow has not yet come. We have only today.

Dangerous Words {pray them if you dare}

So there is this prayer that I stumbled across in college while poring over The Imitation of Christ in the chapel of my freshman dorm each night before bed.  It must have made a big impression on me at the time because there it is underlined in pink gel pen with stars in the margins and the top corner of the page dog eared (which I have to admit just makes me laugh because it brings me right back to the girl I was then – a version of me barely out of high school with the loud laugh, so talkative and outgoing, bright eyed, eager and enthusiastic, passionate about everything).

The first time I realized how powerful the words of that prayer actually were put into action was spring semester of that same year.

I had the HUGEST crush on this cool upperclassman on campus.  He was the one always smoking outside of the library in his leather jacket, kind of a “bad boy” but not really.  (He was going to school at Franciscan after all – how bad could he really be? HA!)  For some reason, he always smiled at me, knew my name, would go out of his way to find a seat near or next to me, even asked me out a few times.  I couldn’t walk across campus without constantly scanning for him and found myself lingering around places he might be.  My heart would skip a beat just spotting him in the distance.  It was infatuation at its best/worst depending on how you look at it I guess.  Oh my goodness, I had it bad!  I’m sure you can all relate to that feeling – you remember those kinds of crushes right?  You love and hate the thrill of it at the same time… kind of fun and exhilarating but drives you crazy too.  Anyway, you get the idea.  There came a point where the “drive you crazy” feeling was far outweighing the thrill of the chase (or being chased, kind of anyway).  After a particularly frustrating night of feeling ignored, I flipped open my Imitation of Christ to pray and it was like those underlined notes jumped off the page at me.  I remember thinking, “this is it!”.  This is exactly the prayer I need to pray.  If this is supposed to be anything and is good for me, then great, but if not I don’t want to have these feelings anymore!  I remember praying it with complete and total sincerity and by the time I finished the paragraph – it was like every ounce of attraction or butterfly I had ever had in my stomach over the guy just evaporated.

They were gone – like gone gone.

Almost as if to emphasize the contrast, sure enough he called and invited me to a party the next day.  Go figure, right?  I said yes more out of curiosity than anything else – kind of disbelieving myself that I could really feel so indifferent.  Sure enough, he picked me up at my dorm, opened doors, got my food for me, stayed by my side engaged in interesting conversation the whole time.  He was the perfect date and gentleman and I just wasn’t interested at all – I felt absolutely nothing.  Please keep in mind, had this same thing happened even a day earlier and I would have been floating on cloud nine, you know?  crazy.

I know it’s almost a silly illustration but it was huge for me at the time and honest to goodness, the instant transformation was nothing short of miraculous – divine intervention I’m telling you.

Fast forward six years, Johnny and I had begun a long distance relationship – him studying at ASU in Arizona, me doing mission work on San Pedro in Belize.  We were actively discerning God’s will in our lives individually and together as a couple, praying Night Prayer daily from our separate places on the globe each night and together on the phone every Sunday (the one time a week we would talk until the long distance international phone card he purchased ran out).  One morning as I took my daily time with God’s Word on the pier in quiet listening and meditation, that prayer from my freshman year and The Imitation of Christ came to mind and I remember thinking, that is the prayer we both need to be praying if we are serious about discerning God’s will for us.

Almost immediately though I remembered the impact of the last time I had prayed that prayer and I really didn’t want my feelings for Johnny to go away – for a second I hesitated and questioned if I really wanted God’s input on the matter if it could mean that this could all disappear into thin air…  I actually thought maybe it’s better not to go there.  I quickly realized how ridiculous that was thankfully and what I felt for him was nothing like that freshman infatuation.  In the end, I did want God to weigh in on the matter and I was fairly confident what He would have to say about it ;)

It’s funny though how much I continue to need those same words in the ongoing discernment of God’s will when it comes to our family.

It is able to minister to me today just as it did then – although my reason for seeking its wisdom out is as sharp a contrast as the now 30 year old version of myself is to that freshly graduated from high school 18 year old – bright eyed and eager to experience all that university had to offer.

Little did I know as I took those notes how powerful that prayer would prove to be in my life time and time again…

It has to do with how we handle our desires and how we conform them to God’s.

Because in the end as much as I ever will anything in this life, I will what God wills more.

Pray it if you dare.

“Lord, if it be Your will, so let it be,
and if it be to Your honor,
let it be fulfilled in Your Name.
Lord, if this be for my good,
give me the grace to use it for Your honor;
but if You know that it will be harmful to me
and not profitable for the good of my soul,
then take away from me such a desire.”

Can I get an Amen?!

-Alison

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