“Your greatest harvest will often come from the word of God you have sown in tears and sown in affliction.” -Beth Moore, Entrusted
Be careful what you pray for.
If you’ve been in church circles long enough, you’ve probably heard the old adage, “Never ever pray for patience.” Patience is grown in the rich and fertile soil of long-suffering. I knew better than to pray for patience.
Nope, what I begged God for was faithfulness. Faithfulness towards my prayer life. Faithfulness to be in the Word. I did not realize how much faithfulness would cost me.
You see, my personality does not lend itself to faithfulness. I am one of those all and then nothing kind of women. Ideas sprout quickly in my mind, growing at a ferocious rate until they consume my thoughts and my free time..for a while anyway. A day, a week, a month. But as quickly as those passionate fires ignite they’re quenched and I’m on to the next thing. Then the next thing. Then the next. Strong starts are my specialty; follow-through my failing.
Case in point:
- I’ve got a half-dozen restaurant concepts and menus saved on my computer.
- I pen gorgeous Chapter 1’s, there’s dozens of those saved in another file. No chapter 2 has yet to develop.
- I have six blogs, each began with a burst of inspiration, post after post, 5 of the 6 fizzled out within months.
- My Youtube channel, Light and Salt Learning, stalled at 14 videos.
- My online textbook has 3 complete pages.
- Class in Your Kitchen, the in home cooking class business I designed, faded away after a single trial event.
- I had 8 friends who were pregnant in 2010. Eight cross-stitch projects I designed and compulsively stitched yet never framed still reside in my nightstand drawer. Perhaps I’ll send them out in time for those children’s 18 birthdays.
- I finished 20 thank you cards since my wedding on November 5th, the list of 80 people who I still owe an expression of gratitude to glares at me from its place of prominence on my fridge.
The list goes on and on, then on and on some more. My past is one long string of evidence stacked up against me, declaring that I never stick to anything.
Early on in my Christian life the spiritual disciples of praying and reading my bible every day sparked my imagination. Brilliant! I started devouring scripture, pouring through the New Testament, and doing bible studies. I wrote lengthy prayers in a journal and decorated the walls of my house with verses. For a few months. Then, in classic Kate style, I got too busy- working long hours, raising two kids alone, serving in all kinds of ministries at the church. Each night I fell into bed exhausted, then snoozed repeatedly through my morning alarm. One day, I set my bible on the nightstand and didn’t open it again for months.
Then convicted by a sermon, I vowed to do better and get back into the word. Back up went the bible and prayer time for a week or two. Then down again for months. Up, down. On, off. Fire, ash. Hot, cold.
My inner voice gave me no grace as I yo-yo’ed my way through my christian walk for years. I called myself weak, lacking self-control, undisciplined, unfaithful, inferior Christian. No amount of self-flagellation kept me faithful in keeping a quiet time for long.
So, when I managed to pray, I began to ask for faithfulness. Perhaps Christ would do for me what I couldn’t do for myself.
“Lord, help me to be better about reading my bible. Help me to stay focused on prayer instead of these quick shout-out prayers I tend towards. Make me faithful.”
I thought he would answer with self-discipline.
Instead, the Lord answered my prayer with desperation.
God gave me the most difficult season of my life. A dark cloud of depression settled over me, worse than I had ever experienced. If I wasn’t working, I was crying. Curled in the fetal position between my bed and the wall I would plead with God to lift the oppressive darkness. Thoughts of suicide haunted me. A new friend, anxiety, became my constant companion. She tied my stomach in knots and whispered dire warnings in my ear. She pushed her way between me and other people. She brought hot tears of panic welling to my eyes in every social situation.
As a single mom with no outside source of income, I knew I needed to keep working, but I could barely hold myself together. Isolated and desperate, I turned to my Bible to get me through a day. I rummaged through my books until I found an old S.O.A.P. Journal with a daily reading plan, tore the plan out and taped it into a spiral bound notebook. I found I could not manage most of the acronym- Observation, Application, and even Prayer were beyond me most days. O, but reading the Scripture, that I could do. I read and I read and I copied out whole chapters into that spiral bound notebook, then another and another.
Some days, it was enough to get me through the work day, staving off tears until I got home. Other days I was still an emotional wreck. I even lost a client because of one teary outburst. I needed more scripture. I found a reading plan that had you read a Psalm a day, Psalm 1 on the first day of the first month, Psalm 2 on the second day, then the next month you would start with Psalm 31, getting through all 150 Psalms in 5 months. That plus my five chapters of SOAP reading each morning still weren’t sufficient. I compacted all the Psalms into a single month. On the first of each month I read Psalms 1, 31, 61, 91, and 121; on the second, Psalms 2, 32, 62, 92, and 122 and so on. The pile of spiral bound notebooks grew, page after page of copied scripture. For four years, the only way I could make it through a day was to wake up early and spend an hour and a half in the word of God.
Then, gradually, the sun began to dawn again. Eventually, my depression lifted and my anxieties faded to a manageable level. I have been walking in the light again since 2014 and what a delicious thing it is. Thank you, Jesus, for joy! Oddly enough though, I am even more thankful for the time before, the dark years. That season of life left me with a priceless gift: faithfulness. God answered my prayers and in a mighty way.
Nowadays, it is a simple thing for me to wake up early, two and a half hours before I need to leave in the morning. Even when I’m tired or went to bed late the night before, I manage. As soon as I roll out of bed, I grab my coffee and head to the quiet living room where I meet the Lord. Virtually every morning I manage to get at least an hour with my Daddy; I can’t remember the last time I missed a day.
We talk and we laugh, the Lord and I, and sometimes I cry but not nearly so much as I used to. Mostly, I read my bible and copy out verses. It’s kind of our thing.