In my previous blog, I wrote about prayer essentially being an ongoing beautiful conversation with our ever-loving, ever-interested, ever-wooing, ever-listening Father who delights in hearing the multi-faceted expressions of our hearts. That in many ways we can compare it to the beauty of art. A dream being birthed in an artist’s heart that colorfully and wildly dances upon a canvas with its unique magnetic force drawing the observer into its womb of brokenness and beauty. Or a poem being strung together over the deep caverns of a an introvert’s mind as she pieces together anguish and joy, tragedy and triumph, and weaves words in and out of melodious sonnets.
And so we pray…
the poetry of our hearts.
And since we are formed out of earth’s clay by sacred hands…
equipped with all of heaven’s power, yet gentle and intricate, tender and sheltering and breathed into by the very breath of God, the one who mapped out the constellations,
firestarter of the stars,
yet with longing created us in His own image to be in relationship with Him, we then respond as any child would, in total trust, when we pray. Even when the prayer is
our last ditch prayer.
Today I want to share a story. Not because I had planned to share this story with you, but through prayer and having learned to wait on and listen for the response of the Holy Spirit, the story today was not my idea, (in fact, this particular story never entered my mind while thinking about this series). This is the way of the Holy Spirit;
Pray. listen. do.
Steven came to me through a mutual friend nearly 16 years ago. I was cleaning a home for someone and our mutual friend came to visit me while I scrubbed and polished, vacuumed and dusted. I wasn’t prepared for him to bring along Steven, but the funny thing is, we can feel totally unprepared, yet be unkowingly and powerfully equipped when we operate out of an ongoing vibrant relationship with Jesus.
When I first laid eyes on 19 year old Steven, I have to admit, I silently cried for help! My prayer went something like this,
“HELP! What do you expect me to do with this kid?” The answer went something like this…like it always does, “What do you EXPECT me to do?” You see, if our expectations are fixed on God and not ourselves, well then…
we can EXPECT great things. And so it was with Steven.
Prayers of half-hearted expectancy began to literally be pulled by an unseen hand from the depths of my heart where helplessness and speechlessness marry and clumsily dance their way out until the choreographer takes the weight and leads home His perfect words…perfect will.
Steven weighed all of about 110 pounds wringing wet. He was strung out, but not yet “hung out” to dry, if you know what I mean. But God had purposefully led Steven to me for some of the wringing and the twisting, the wrestling and the waiting through acceptance, love and prayer. In all honesty, Steven was one of the sorriest human beings I had ever laid eyes on, and far beyond my scope of helping professionaly. But God wasn’t asking for professional help, He was simply asking for a willing heart.
A believing heart. A childlike heart.
I do not know until this day all of Steven’s history. What I do know is that he was as broken as anyone could be. Addiction had ravaged his heart, mind and body. He was desperate for more. More drugs. More love. A family. A home. His eyes screamed it, through a facade of humor. And oh, was Steven funny. Instantly likeable…even loveable. He was wildly colorful and there was NO escaping the absolute set-in-stone in heaven, fact that this was a divine appointment. I invited him into my home, though advised not to because he may steal medications or go through my cabinets. Oddly, I didn’t seem to care whether he did or not.
All I had to offer was my friendship, prayer, and my beloved bible.
We became fast friends and I invited Steven to church. Steven willingly came a handful of times before he disappeared, but one Sunday still replays in my mind as one of the most beautiful memories I will ever relive. It was during worship where I looked down my row at Steven a few seats down sobbing his eyes out. Moved under the weight and love of the Holy Spirit, calling to him, pressing on him, breaking through years of brick after brick built up in a wall around his tender boy-like heart, Steven broke and years of welled-up pain freely spilled off of his face. This was not the day things changed for Steven, nor would things change for the better in the days ahead, but I gave him my worn and scribbled throughout Bible one of the last times I saw him during that season of friendship and grace.
And then he was gone…
It had been months since I heard from him, or our mutual friend until one night I received a phone call from that mutual friend. “Steven is in big trouble. Please pray. Is there anything you can do? He is messed up with dangerous people and he needs help.” I prayed and suggested Teen Challenge. It was late at night and I spent much of the evening emailing the program manager and asking for scholarships. Of course Steven had to be willing and there was no guarantee scholarships would be approved. I had no money, Steven had no money. What were we to do? Discouraged and exhausted, I ended my night with this prayer, “Lord, if you want Steven in Teen Challenge, you will get him to Teen Challenge.” That was it. It would be another year before I heard anything about Steven.
On a particularly beautiful sunny day, our mutual friend showed up on my doorstep. He came with news. GOOD NEWS. As we sat out on my back patio enjoying conversation and the heat of the middle of the day, he began to tell me that things had hit rock bottom for Steven, he had been arrested, he had faced his sentencing with two options: Jail or Teen Challenge. Steven chose Teen Challenge. That was 15 years ago. In the last 15 years, Steven has gotten married, has a beautiful family with 2 children, has been a youth pastor….
is now counseling youth at Teen Challenge.
Remember, how I told you the Holy Spirit changed my direction for writing this morning? Well, I prayed, as I always do, for heavenly inspiration, meaning I don’t want to write out of my will, but His will. I wait and see where He would lead me in Scripture, what He would say to me through prayer, or how He would show up in some sort of confirmation on how I am to proceed in writing. Well this morning as I was in intimate fellowship with Him, as I am each morning, I heard the familiar ding of a facebook message. It was Steven, sharing the good news of his counseling position and thanking me for praying for him 15 years ago…
If you think any of your prayers are “last ditch”….think again,
God may be digging wells of everlasting glory….
Stay tuned for next week: Elijah and the Prayer of Faith. Disclosure: Unless otherwise directed under holy influence.
Amazed, held and intimately known,