But the hard things are still hard. The tough times are still tough. There will still be crying, confusion and sadness. It's just part of this life that we live. And, it's ok... because there is MORE. Can I get an Amen and Whoop to that?!
I know that I speak for so many right now, but there is a lot of hard stuff that people are dealing with and facing right now. For some reason, the element of the "threes" (you know, everything happens in 3s) isn't in play this time. I have a lot of friends that are hurting. I lot of friends that are confused and scared of what the future holds. 3 deaths, 3 battles of cancer, a miscarriage. Just heartbreaking stuff. And, to be brutally honest... sometimes I just get tired of praying. I get worn out. I put the Bible away for a few days (or more). I get the mentality of "God, You're going to do whatever You want to do anyway... why do I need to even pray?!"
Here's the deal. Intercessory prayer, praying on the behalf of others, is biblical. If you are curious, let me know... I'll send you a long list of verses that lay these facts down for us. But, regardless if you want verses or not, Jesus interceded for us. On that thing called the Cross. He did something for us that we sure didn't deserve. But He did it. So, in my mind, that means that I need to put my violin down and get on my knees.
So, where do I start? Well. I'm glad you asked. I pick up this book...
Literally, when I don't have the words. The Holy Spirit leads me to a prayer in this book that does. A prayer that exactly portrays my heart, my struggle, my whatever-I'm-dealing-with-that-day. Even... EVEN when it's for a friend and, whoa, not myself? Why yes. Even when needing to pray for others.
These prayers no doubt stir my heart... get me aimed towards the right direction, and I very rarely want to stop there. That's when I open the Word and just let God fill me up. Help me to focus on Heaven. On the goodness that IS in this world. How blessed I am.
So, just to share. This has been the latest prayer in Valley of Vision that I've turned to often in the past week or so. I truly encourage all of you to pick it up...
"The Grace of the Cross"
O MY SAVIOUR,
I thank thee from the depths of my being for thy wondrous grace and love in bearing my sin in thine own body on the tree. May thy cross be to me as the tree that sweetens my bitter Marahs, as the rod that blossoms with life and beauty, as the brazen serpent that calls forth the look of faith. By thy cross crucify my every sin; use it to increase my intimacy with thyself; make it the ground of all my comfort, the liveliness of all my duties, the sum of all thy gospel promises, the comfort of all my afflictions, the vigour of my love, thankfulness, graces, the very essence of my religion; and by it give me that rest without rest, the rest of ceaseless praise.
O MY LORD AND SAVIOUR,
Thou hast also appointed a cross for me to take up and carry, a cross before thou givest me a crown. Thou hast appointed it to be my portion, but self-love hates it, carnal reason is unreconciled to it; without the grace of patience I cannot bear it, walk with it, profit by it. O blessed cross, what mercies dost though bring with thee! Thou art only esteemed hateful by my rebel will, heavy because I shirk thy load. Teach me, gracious Lord and Saviour, that with my cross thou sendest promised grace so that I may bear it patiently, that my cross is thy yoke which is easy, and thy burden which is light.
*Also, as a side note, The Austin Stone just finished a sermon series on Heaven and Hell. Matt wrapped it up last week on Heaven. Don't worry I went to the service twice... because it was that good. If you are interested in hearing the sermons, you can find them HERE.