Previous Challenge Entry (Level 2 – Intermediate)
Topic: SWEET HOUR OF PRAYER (don’t write about the song) (04/30/15)
TITLE: Not The Act, But The Response
By Catherine Craig
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Today, recalling my little girlâ€™s crumpled face, her curls damp with tears, I can't feel. Davidâ€™s no longer here; I am no longer terrified. But still, part of me is afraid to feel.
When I pray, itâ€™s lip service; my heart feels dead. Am I lying when I say I love God if I canâ€™t feel the love I say I have for him? Does he understand?
Sometimes, something lodged deep inside, like a thorn, or sliver, something very small, surfaces. Thatâ€™s when I feel, and I donâ€™t like those feelings.
Today, with my devotional before me, and my Bible open, I sit â€“ feeling as empty as my apartment. The kids are gone to their fatherâ€™s fancy house for their first court-ordered visit, while I struggle, raising our kids.
â€śWhy God?â€ť I ask, the anger welling. â€śWhy! Why! Why!â€ť Smashing my closed fist against the table is satisfying, though my catâ€™s golden eyes widen with fear. Her silky fur stands on end, almost spiky, and with each blow, she retreats further, but I canâ€™t stop.
â€śWhere were you? Were you asleep?â€ť I cry, my voice building. â€śDidnâ€™t you care? Did you lie when you said you would protect me?â€ť The voice coming from me isnâ€™t mine; itâ€™s tinged with sarcasm. â€śYou promised! You saidâ€¦.â€ť I cry, slipping from the chair to my knees into a crumpled ball with my forehead pressed against the floor, sobbing. â€śWhere were you, Lord? Where are you, Lord?â€ť I beg, over and over again. â€śI need you!â€ť Then, exhausted, I curl in on myself in a fetal position, as a caterpillar might trying to protect itself â€“ tears spilling from my eyes in the silence and pooling onto the bare floor.
Later, much later, I unfurl my cramped body. Wearily, I roll over, and onto my hands and knees, resting briefly. Then I pull myself up first with the chair, and then with the table, to stand, and then fall into the very chair Iâ€™d started from â€“ staring at my Bible. Frustrated with peering at swimming letters through eyelashes stuck-together from crying, I treat myself to a warm wet washcloth to wash off the residue.
Relief over the absence of rage fills me as I sit back down, tracing with my finger, reading aloud the words, â€śFor your Maker is your Husband â€“ the Lord Almighty is His Nameâ€¦â€ť My husband? I wonder. After pondering, I flip to another passage Iâ€™d marked with a highlighter.
Certain words stand out as I read, â€śâ€¦it is commendable before God if a man (or woman) bears up under the pain of unjust sufferingâ€¦to this you were called, because Jesus suffered for you, leaving an example for you to follow in his stepsâ€¦â€ť
â€śThat makes sense,â€ť I said, and turn to another passage that reads, â€śâ€¦so do not throw away your confidence; it will be richly rewarded.â€ť A sense of calm, of peace, fills me as perspective returns. Feeling the corners of my mouth tip up into a smile, I continue reading, â€śYou need to persevere, so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what he has promised.â€ť
â€śThatâ€™s right,â€ť I muse, looking up to stare through the window at the brilliantly lit frozen landscape. â€śBeauty for ashes,â€ť I reflect, recalling past trials Iâ€™d suffered and victoriously come through. I read on, â€śHe who is coming, will come, and not delay.â€ť
I close the Bible with a decided thump, and standing up, stretch. Striding across the cold floor to slip my bare feet into a pair of warm furry boots, I exchange my drab gray scarf with a bright red one, and pull on my jacket. Grabbing the sheaf of papers from the counter, filled out but ignored until that moment, I glimpse the words, â€śVolunteer for local Womanâ€™s Shelter Applicationâ€ť.
Pausing with my hand on the doorknob, I freeze, but then, shaking my head, I yank open the door. A moist mist rises from my lips with the words I speak into the cold crisp morning, finishing my earlier prayer. â€śUse me. Use me, Lord â€“ for Your Glory. Amenâ€¦â€ť
Based upon a true story.
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