This morning I slipped out of bed before my alarm went off so that I wouldn’t awaken Keith. I’d slept much later than usual because I’d had a full weekend of taping sessions at Life Today for Wednesdays in the Word. Our church also has an 11:00 AM worship service slot which is a glorious grace for people who work many Friday nights and Saturdays and need a little sabbath in the worst way. I had my prayer time and several cups of thick dark coffee in the regular spot where Jesus and I meet on mornings when no one is up in my house but me. If Keith is awake, I move to my library to finish out but, if he’s sound asleep, I stick a little closer to the coffee pot. It saves considerable pacing.
Half an hour in, I glanced at the clock and knew I’d better get moving toward the shower or we weren’t going to get there in time to fellowship at all before the service started. Something is always missing in my Sunday when that happens. I don’t go to church for the service alone unless I’m in too much distress to want to talk to anybody. In that case, I might go in late and leave early, as much as I hate to admit it. But far more normally, second to participating in worship and the Word, I go with full intention to be with a family of believers equally frail and human but also pursuing a life of faith. I give and get hugs. I get and give words of encouragement. I pray for people and people pray for me. Sometimes my own daughter will lean over in the part of our service dedicated to prayer and whisper intercession in my ear.
This holy give and take. A community cannot exist without communing. Church has never just been limited to a service for me. Nor has it been limited to Sundays.
But back to this morning. I didn’t want to be late so I stacked up the Bible I use for my morning devotionals, my journal, and my iPad and headed into my library to set them back on my desk. As I put them down, I hesitated for a moment before turning toward my bedroom. I knew I still had something on my heart that I had not brought to the Lord. When I finish my prayer time, the goal for me is that my heart would be poured out before Jesus in praises, confessions, intercessions, and concerns and then filled back up by Him with His own Holy Spirit.
Trust in Him at all times, O people; pour out your heart before Him. God is a refuge for us. Psalm 62:8
Be filled with the Spirit. Ephesians 5:18
I pour out, He pours in.
That’s our deal.
Just minutes before in the kitchen with my Bible open, I’d talked around the thing that was on my heart but I’d not voiced it the way I really felt it. I had questions about it that I hadn’t exactly asked. Maybe I hadn’t asked them because I’d not really expected an answer. Or maybe I hadn’t asked them because I was uncomfortable being that raw. By raw I don’t just mean honest. Good grief, I hope to heaven that I approach God in prayer with honesty this many years into our relationship after the places we’ve been together. I don’t think I’m exaggerating to say that, if He hadn’t insisted that I learn to be honest with Him about my true estate, I’d probably be dead by now.
I’m pausing to stare at that statement to see if it really rings true in my spirit.
Yeah. I think my body would be cold and in the ground by now. I was headed for a full fledged implosion.
To me, raw doesn’t just mean honest. It means not having to think carefully about how I’m going to word it. Not having to frame it in godly terms. After all, I want to be godly. God help me, I want to be godly. But it’s hard to be godly with a lot of junk stored up in your heart.
Raw means, “This is the deal right here. This is how I feel. And why is it that…? What on earth is…?”
Raw means going ahead and putting out there how I really feel about something down deep, even if it sounds selfish or small.
Even if it makes me sound pathetic. He can see my heart anyway. And sometimes it is pathetic.
I glanced over at the gorgeous kneeling bench the prayer team at Tuesday night Bible study had given me and I walked over to it and knelt down on it.
Right there I pulled out that pine cone that was still down there pricking and sticking and crowding my heart and set it out before God, all jagged and bloody on the edges. Right there I brought my questions.
August temperatures in Houston are oppressively warm and the air is damp and wet even in the morning. Keith Moore likes his house cold and, if he didn’t, I would. The combination of competing temperatures in a humid climate means that every window this time of year is thickly layered in condensation until the sun comes up and burns it off. You have to go outside around here if you want an unhindered view of the dawn.
As I knelt on that bench, everything was a fog out that window especially with my forehead pressed to the glass. But, as I prayed for just those few moments, my eyes adjusted to one slender streak left by a heavy drop. Just one tear of clarity.
And somehow, it was enough. At least for today.
I didn’t get up off that bench with clear answers to my questions but I got up with something else. I rose from my knees with the sense in my heart that I’d been heard. That the questions were not inappropriate. That the matter was not irrelevant. And that, even if it communicated my flawed and small self, what better place to have exposed it?
Then I went to church and worshiped freely because all that had troubled my heart was out on the table before God and I was hiding nothing from Him. I fought tears for most of the service because I felt close to Him and not because I’d been godly but because I’d just gotten to be raw. And it had been okay.
I am struggling with some things and He knows it and not just from reading my mind but from hearing my mouth. Let’s just go ahead and admit it. There is relief in that.
I don’t know why some things are the way they are. It doesn’t change them to admit my bewilderment but it clears the air somehow.
Hostility grows where things are left simmering and unsaid. What I needed to say to Jesus this morning wasn’t about Him but its only safe place was with Him.
Go ahead, Sister. Trust Him with that thing. Go find a place to kneel and say it. Say it in humility but say it with complete honestly.
And I pray that, though the window’s still wet and blurred by the heat, you will open your eyes and there it will be.
One slender streak of clarity.