I’ve spent a lot of time, recently, looking back. Not in a wishful sort of way. The past is over and I don’t want to re-live it. But I’ve wanted more understanding –and revelations– about what the heck went down these past few years.
This blog is chock-full of appropriate-for-print details on our struggles, but my head and heart have not forgotten all of those “only-revealed-to-a-select-few” pieces of my history. Together, they’ve made me who I am becoming in God and for this reason I’m not ashamed.
Only still slightly perplexed.
What was it, exactly, that brought me to these painful places? While others were successfully advancing through simple, normal life stages, what pinned me as one with “failure to thrive”?
The first thing that comes to my mind are the pages and pages of prayers (I write my prayers — helps me keep awake in the wee hours of the morning when my love for sleep competes with my love for God) that included this simple phrase:
Take me lower.
I don’t know how it started, but something within me gravitated toward this prayer and it soon become the driving request in my times with God. It’s biblical. Most of the times my prayers start from scripture. It’s the safest way to pray, from my perspective. But sometimes the phrases and thoughts come first and I later find them in scripture.
This was one of those.
My mind and my heart became consumed with asking God to take me to the low places because something in me knew that here was not only where I would find Him, but also where He would be most released in my life.
John 3:30 He must increase, but I must decrease.
As crazy as it was, I wanted that. And the sheer fact that this was even a desire, was evidence that it was other. It was Him. He coursed through my pompous, self-centered veins and produced this prayer. You, God … not me.
We sing a song in our house called “It’s all about me” (kind of a take-off from a popular worship song). I belt this chorus at times when my golden-retriever of a husband has forgotten that the center of his universe is none other than ME. And he hums it in the background as a way of reviving me back to reality when the selfishness I spend most of the time trying to hide has surfaced.
All to say, I’d like to think that these prayers are evidence of what happens when you quiet yourself to pray. His Spirit washes over us and when we let go of our list and our agenda, even if just for a minute, the product is His thoughts on our mind.
The single series of events that has convinced me that, when we pray, He moves, is not just our adoption. A history of responses of God to my sometimes half-cocked prayers is being built. The adoption is one of them. But even before this process, was the whole year’s worth of take me lower.
I was foolish. I was young. As a twenty-something who hadn’t stood face-to-face with real struggle and often treated the stories in scripture more like fables than reality, I prayed this prayer without recognizing its supremely-capable Recipient.
I vividly remember being in prayer meetings where I, yet again, couldn’t contain this simple prayer bubbling up from within. Take me lower, God, so that you might increase. And it stopped there. Prayers from others for advancement, growth, impact quickly drowned out my single, simple request. Now, after a few years under my belt, I know it’s because these people had more gray hairs to show for their answered prayers. They knew.
He responds to that prayer and it ‘aint always pretty.
Now that I’ve convinced you of the beauty of praying for His increase in the midst of your own decline 🙂 … come back tomorrow and I’ll tell you why I haven’t filed this prayer away for “safe keeping”.