I came home from Starbucks that morning, having just met with the pastor at the church I’d been visiting. The meeting hadn’t gone as I’d expected and my head was swirling. I thought this would be a basic meet-and-greet and ‘sell’ for all the ways I could get involved at this church. Instead, the conversation took a radically different turn, delving deep into my life and somehow I had spilled out all the things which had been weighing so heavily on my heart lately.
He listened patiently as I began voicing the fears, anxieties, and issues that had piled up, seeming to weigh a ton on my shoulders. Then, he asked the pivotal question, the one that sent my head spinning. He asked was I praying about these things and asking God to carry the load for a while?
I didn’t know what that meant or if such a thing was even possible. After all, these were my issues to fix, my burdens to carry and worry through. What could God really do about my little life, my problems? Could God help me find a new job and find a more meaningful direction for my life? Would God intervene in my struggle with infertility? How could God lighten the weight of all the issues piling up around me? Was that even possible?
As I began to voice my protest, the pastor gently challenged me to just give it a try. He said to go home, pray, and simply ask.
When I got home, I went out to my backyard and sat down on the stone steps. I needed some fresh air to clear my head and think through this conversation. Could God really do this? How could He make a difference in these problems when I had been unable to see any solutions or path forward? Was I willing to try, though, and take the pastor up on this challenge to pray? What could it hurt at this point? Wasn’t I out of any other options?
So, I bowed my head and began to pray.
Listen to my prayer, O God,
do not ignore my plea; hear me and answer me.
My thoughts trouble me and I am distraught. (Psalm 55:1-2 NIV)
I continued this for days, weeks, months. Praying for God to carry this weight for a while. It took some time to begin to believe the words I was praying, to begin to believe and hope it was possible, to begin to let go.
One day I began to notice I was breathing easier. The tightness was releasing, my shoulders didn’t feel so low. I wasn’t feeling so defeated, anxious, worried, or overwhelmed. Nothing about my situation had changed, but all of a sudden I began to feel changed.
Cast your cares on the Lord and he will sustain you;
He will never let the righteous be shaken (Psalm 55:22 NIV)
I’d been a believer for more than 30 years, but through this prayer, I began a personal relationship with God. I learned that He was more than just a distant, creator God; He is personal and up-close in our lives, if we’ll only invite Him in. Through this prayer, I found a kind of faith and relationship with God I didn’t know existed.
Now I write to share this hope I’ve found in God and to encourage others to take steps in their own faith journeys, listening for God at work in their lives. I’ve found that although my life has numerous plot lines and challenges, my passion is to write about the thread of hope that prayer and trust in God weaves through them all.
God has taken me on quite a ride in the many years since that first prayer and I’m leaning in close to see where He’s taking me next, listening and discerning His call for my life, and learning to step forward in trust.