So, this morning after I dropped the kids at school, I took our dog for a walk and began dusting off what was left of that ton of bricks that had fallen on me. I went through some habitual steps, spending a great deal of the first half of the walk just confessing to God how I let my thoughts and feelings shape my life instead of him and how miserable I felt. I confessed everything from my anger (at life, others, myself and God) to my fears (which were many).
Then I spent some time reminding myself how God and this world works. I ruminated on Job and reminded myself that God is ultimately powerful and he is good. I thought on how Paul says we can pray with thanksgiving and I thanked God (with blurry eyes) for the chance to learn who he is and what he can do (along with some sincere begging for him not to disappoint me). And then I thought on how adversity brings the chance to be patient (which for me means to live in the moment and not the future or past) and that brings perseverance (which is confidence in the promises of God).
I didn’t feel much better. I shifted my habits. I took some more of Paul’s advice, to think on what is good and pure. God is good and pure, I thought. So I thought on who he is. I thought on Jesus taking the blind man by the hand, leading him out of the village and healing him. I thought on the love and care and gentleness and strength of that. I thought on how God’s taken me into his kingdom, those wide open spaces where his love and grace are the air I breathe. I thought on the prodigal son’s father, who ran with such longing and love to embrace him. I thought on how good and right God is and how he loves me like that.
Suddenly this little conversation with God took place in my head:
I feel better, I thought.And I starting crying with relief right then and there.
But I didn’t do anything, I realized. I just looked at you.
Ultimately, this is where all our habits of spiritual disciplines—confession, meditation, prayer, praise, etc.—lead us. They open us to the presence and reality of God. They turn our vision to him instead of ourselves. They bring us back to the reality that we rest in him. That we can’t do anything apart from him—even that we can’t do anything but he does it instead. That our life and peace and breath are in him only—and that he lives and breathes for us.
That, oh my Lord, he loves me.
My struggles didn't end with that conversation. Those angry, fearful feelings and thoughts continue to surge and ebb. I’ve had to turn back to that conversation and God over and over. That’s the way it often works with me—a constant, minute-by-minute coming to Jesus.
But that conversation with God is a sweet manna for the day, an altar built in remembrance of God’s faithfulness, goodness and love. Indeed, “God answers knee mail”—even if you’re walking when you send it.