Weakness is strength.

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Went to meet a couple of former colleagues for dinner. I wasn’t feeling well at all, but I was really missing these friends, so I decided to go anyway. On the way, I just cried out to God over the loss of my job and health insurance, constant pain, feeling sick and so much more. When I was done, I surrendered my life to God again, asking Him to use me. Then, as I pulled in to the parking lot, I felt I was to pray for someone.

I will just say right here that I am so stubborn and self-sufficient that I have to be gripping the end of my rope with my fingertips, flailing about with my legs and one free arm, before I will voluntarily turn over my life to Him. The rest of the time, I’m praying “equip me” prayers, which sound righteous, but they’re really just a cover for keeping God at arm’s length, essentially telling Him, “Don’t worry Lord, I’ve got this.” Now that I am broke, sick, destitute and unemployed, I have no other option but to give Him my “everything,” which in fact is nothing.

As I was touching up my makeup in the car so I could appear put together before my friends, I saw a couple make their way into the restaurant. The guy was on crutches and I wondered if he was the one I was supposed to pray for. Now this is always an awkward moment for me. Should I chase him down–wouldn’t be difficult–and ask if I can pray for him? If I do, would it be appropriate to “lay hands” on his injured foot? What if he looks at me like I’m crazy…or worse, what if his wife thinks thinks this is some kind of new pick up maneuver? And worst of all, what if I do pray for him and…Nothing. Whatsoever. Happens.

I was still wrestling through the proper prayer protocol when I heard a commotion outside my car. A man was clearly agitated, screaming after a woman who was trying to walk away from him. I wondered if I should go inside the restaurant to get reinforcements, but I wanted to make she was okay first. I opened my car door as the woman turned to look at the man. She uttered something I couldn’t hear. But the man heard it and it made him even madder. He got right in her face and by this time I was out of my car, cell phone in hand. The woman was hunched over, sobbing, and telling him to leave her alone. It looked like he was going to hit her, so I yelled at him to stop. He looked at me like I was crazy and yelled back that it was not my business. Somehow I stood my ground and said, “You just made it my business.”

I then approached the woman and asked her if she was alright…if she needed anything. I wondered if she would need a place to live, or some money, or groceries, but she just looked at me and said, “Can you pray with me?”

This was not at all what I expected.

So I put my arm around her and prayed for God’s protection…and for freedom. I can’t remember what was in the middle, but I hope it touched her in some way.

And then she turned and walked after the man. I saw them sit down outside for awhile and then they disappeared.

On my way home, I thanked God for this brief encounter. And I had to acknowledge that if I hadn’t been in such a raw and desperate place myself, I might have tuned out the yelling to go about my own business instead of allowing my life to intersect for a moment with hers.

God’s answer to my gratitude was silence. He didn’t download a list of ways I could have prayed more effectively or give me a seven-step strategy to start a restaurant parking lot ministry. Instead, I believe the corners of His mouth turned up a bit as He gave a slight nod in my direction.

And it was good.

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No greater labor.

The brethren also asked Abba Agathon “Amongst all good works, which is the virtue which requires the greatest effort?”

He answered “Forgive me, but I think there is no labour greater than that of prayer to God. For every time a man wants to pray, his enemies, the demons, want to prevent him. For they know that it is only by turning him from prayer that they can hinder his journey. What ever good work a man undertakes, if he perseveres in it, he will attain rest. But prayer is warfare to the last breath.”
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Memorial

President Obama read Psalm 46 at the 9-11 Memorial in New York this morning.

God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.

Therefore, we will not fear, even though the earth be removed, and though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea.

Though its waters roar and be troubled, though the mountains shake with its swelling, there’s a river whose streams shall make glad the City of God, the holy place of the Tabernacle of the Most High.

God is in the midst of her.  She shall not be moved.  God shall help her just at the break of dawn.

The nations raged, the kingdoms were moved.  He uttered his voice.  The earth melted.  The Lord of Hosts is with us.  The God of Jacob is our refuge.

Come behold the works of the Lord who has made desolations in the Earth.  He makes wars cease to the ends of the Earth.  He breaks the bough and cuts the spear in two.  He burns the chariot in fire.

Be still and know that I am God.  I will be exalted among the nations.  I will be exalted in the Earth.

The Lord of Hosts is with us.  The God of Jacob is our refuge.