When you spread out your hands in prayer, I will hide my eyes from you; even if you offer many prayers, I will not listen.
Your hands are full of blood; wash and make yourselves clean. Take your evil deeds out of my sight! Stop doing wrong,
learn to do right! Seek justice, encourage the oppressed. Defend the cause of the fatherless, plead the case of the widow. ~ Isaiah 1:15-17a.
When my mum got sick with brain cancer, people tried to pray it out of her. It didn’t work, not for eight years, and then all of a sudden the prayers must have kicked in, or she gained an extra ounce of faith or something, but suddenly she got better. I don’t know that I ever recovered from it though.
People believing that my mum, a pastor’s wife, didn’t have enough faith.
And I wonder what it looks like to have enough faith. Does it look like the Pope? Does it look like Mother Theresa (who apparently doubted her beliefs consistently, in the face of such sorrow)? Does it look like a child?
I wonder if the reason I suffer from anxiety is because I’m faithless, or maybe it’s chemicals in the brain, and can faith and science mix, and if so, why do I need to go on anti-depressants?
I’ve been figuring this stuff out even as I’ve been letting it all go, and holding onto my children and my husband and trying to find the cross. The one from 2,000 years ago and then I realized, we’re all hanging on it. All of us, every day, we’re dying to ourselves, and sometimes that looks like filling a prescription, and sometimes it looks like losing a job, and sometimes it looks like unanswered prayers and the whole church swinging its condescending finger in your face.
But I’m learning as I hang here on my cross with my babies in my arms —
that I shouldn’t care what people think because people can’t save me. And why do I care what people think when we’re the ones who crucified Jesus? What are any of us thinking we can ever do anything except beg God to see us trying? To see us dying, with all of our wounded pride and our swearing lips and our medicated minds? With all of our faithless prayers?
So Jesus, please save me. Save me in a radical kind of way. Save me from my past, from my present, from a future full of sin and save my family too. And help me become the kind of girl that doesn’t care about what anyone says but you. The kind of girl whose prayers render heaven shaken. The kind of prayers that feed children in Africa and house mothers in Haiti and comfort foster children in America.
The kind of prayers that move mountains.
I want to move mountains.
I’m tired of lukewarm.
So walk with me, won’t you, into an irresistible future? One made of trumpets blowing and walls crumbling? And we’ll become the stuff of stars, the stuff that shines with integrity and truth and justice even as we dangle from our crosses and swear with our lips and pop prescription pills.
[photo: Alexindigo, Creative Commons]