Vicar's July Letter

Revd. Angela Walker

How do we face the difficult challenges in life?

Are there times when you have to face storms of various kinds, perhaps you are facing one right now?

When I face difficult situations I always want to know what God wants me to do each time. Praying and listening for God to speak is vital for me because I want to know that I am being obedient to God, even if what I have to do is hard. One thing that I am learning constantly is to face the problem head on. The longer I put it off, the harder it gets and sometimes the problems even increase.

I am not that good at facing things head on, I will procrastinate, and avoid the situation for as long as I can which never seems to get me anywhere; and to be honest when we try to hide, the problems do not just go away.

A situation that had been on-going for some time, flared up again recently and I found myself on my knees before God crying out to him for deliverance. Have you ever done that? I just wept before him saying things like, “God, don’t you see? Don’t you hear? Don’t you care? Now I knew in my head the answer to all of those questions was yes. Of course God sees, he hears everything and of course he cares. He cares deeply about the things that upset us or hurt us. He doesn’t like to see his children in pain or suffering. However, I wasn’t praying with my mind, this was my spirit praying. This was what we call the ‘prayer of lament’. This prayer was my spirit getting in touch with God’s Spirit. Sometimes we try to pray and we think we must use the right words as if there is a special way to pray that God will hear. You do not need to know HOW to pray when you come towards God in prayer. You simply just tell it as it is. He doesn’t mind if you use clumsy words, in fact he doesn’t mind if you can’t put it into words; groans and tears will suffice. As long as it is God you are turning to.

When I finished praying I knew that God had heard my prayer, and that he was going to answer my prayer. I just had a sense that this prayer was God initiated and therefore very much on his heart. But I didn’t know how it would be answered. But then I became convinced that God wanted me to do something very difficult. Did you know that often we are the answers to our own prayers as well? We see this in the bible so often when someone is praying and they are overwhelmed by the situation they face. God answers their prayers by sending them to face the enemy that they fear. We often have to face our fears head on if we are to truly overcome them. Be careful how you pray, God might ask you to be the answer to your own prayer. Because, sometimes we have to do something in order to share in God’s victory. It isn’t always the best answer for us to just expect God to take the problem away without us ever having to face it. Although sometimes he does.

So once I knew what I needed to do, I prepared myself to do it, knowing that the situation still may not change for the Good. But this was now about me being

obedient and following through with the action regardless of the results. To be honest it felt like it could just make things worse. But I really believed this was what God was telling me to do.

However, that didn’t stop me questioning it right up until the moment of delivering it. I prayed a lot, prayers like ‘Are you sure this is right God?’ ‘Is this just me, my own thoughts, my own reaction? Sometimes when God asks us to do something, it doesn’t come with a guarantee of success. ‘what if it backfires, what if it makes things worse? ‘Oh God do you really want me to do this?’

These kind of prayers are more about us trying to get out of a difficult task, like Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane when he was facing the prospect of death. Jesus prayed, “Father, take this cup (of suffering) from me, yet not my will but yours be done”. Jesus, understandably, would have rather not gone to the cross if there had been another way. Yet he surrendered to the will of his Father for our sake. And so there comes a time occasionally when we would rather things could be worked out differently but we are called upon to surrender to God’s will. To do the thing he asks of us even when we do not understand why.

I called my friends and asked them to pray and then stepped out.

I came to that point in fear and trepidation. But that is when something wonderful happened. The moment I stepped out to do the thing that I would rather not do, a tremendous boldness came over me. It was a very difficult time, but I seemed to be given the words to speak, the courage to stand my ground and the perfect peace within. It wasn’t pleasant but I had confidence because I knew I was simply being obedient to God.

Afterwards I walked away, with my head held high and I determined that I would sing all the way home. I sang in order not to chew over the events in my mind. Because I don’t know about you but I often go over and over everything in my head, should I have said that, did I do the right thing, Was I too this or that? So I sang, and by the time I reached home I was feeling like a whole weight had been lifted off my shoulders.

You see prayer is not just about coming to God with our lists and then sitting back and waiting for him to do something. Prayer is an adventure, sometimes a difficult one but an adventure with God. It is as much about learning about God’s nature and learning about ourselves as it is about building our relationship with God. My relationship with my children and grandchildren is not just about what I can do for them. If I were able to give them everything they needed, they would never learn to be strong, to face the world. Sometimes God wants more than just to answer our prayers too. He wants us to meet him in the circumstances of our lives.

I have some words written on my dining room wall that read: Life is not about waiting for the storm to pass, it is about learning to dance in the rain.

I am still learning to dance in the rain, and sometimes, it actually feels good.

 

Revd Angela Walker