Maybe someone died. But if someone died, someone would call me instead of ringing the doorbell, wouldn’t they?
What if somebody is out there trying to find out if I’m in here? What if they try to break in?
Is my phone next to the bed?!
Those are thoughts that raced through my eighty-year-old aunt’s head last week when someone rang her doorbell in the middle of the night. It frightened her so much that she couldn’t move to get out of bed. She told me that she just laid there and prayed. Whomever it was went away, but she lay in her bed till dawn listening and wondering who had been at her door at three o’clock in the morning.
Are you a lazy pray-er? I am. Funny thing about prayer: most of us pray more often and most fervently when faced with a crisis or an urgent need. My health scare brought me to my knees, a place I hadn’t been for a while. Prayer for me meant sitting in my favorite chair, hands folded, head bowed, talking to God. Not that there’s anything wrong with that! But sometimes God wants us on our knees engaged in fervent prayer.
I tend to babble when I pray. God, this person needs this, and that person needs that . . .and I need a few things, too, and thank you, God for watching over me. . . I’m like my aunt that way. She told me once that she prayed so long at bedtime that my uncle had to remind her to stop talking and come to bed. When I got on my knees to talk with God about my health, surprisingly I had nothing to say. I was dumbstruck by God ringing my bell in the middle of the night. All I could do was kneel and listen.
Jesus said in John 10:27, “My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me.” Get that? The sheep LISTEN. They don’t do a standup monologue for God. Instead, they stand and listen to His voice. By “stand” I mean that they stop. The sheep stop grazing, bleating and whatever else sheep do, and they listen for the shepherd’s voice. When they hear it, they find comfort knowing that the shepherd is near. So, I knelt and I listened — and nothing happened.
I got up off my knees, disappointed in myself for allowing my health to fail and in my God for not speaking to me. I still felt afraid. I walked to my computer and opened a new e-mail, a devotional from 66 Love Letters: A Conversation with God that Invites You into His Story by Dr. Larry Crabb. This is what it said:
Love Letter One: Genesis
God says, I want you to realize that I never underestimated how thoroughly you’d mess up your life or how painfully you would struggle and suffer, and I don’t want you to underestimate your failures or struggles either. They’re all part of the story I’m telling.
But neither have I underestimated My determination or ability to enter the mess you’ve made and the pain you feel and turn everything around. I can, and I will, make everything good again. Never, never underestimate Me. I have a plan, a very good one, and it will move ahead to completion. Guaranteed! Trust Me. Why? Because I love you even when you’re messing up badly. I love you in the middle of your pain even though I don’t relieve it as quickly as you wish. I am worthy of your trust, no matter what happens in your life. I have a good plan, and nothing will stop Me from carrying it to completion.
You must live now in the tension between anguish and hope.
Has God rung your doorbell lately? How do you listen in prayer?
Dear God: Teach us to be quiet and listen for your voice. Amen
Disclosure of Material Connection: I have not received any compensation for writing this post. I have no material connection to the brands, products, or services that I have mentioned. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”