Sunday, October 11, 2009

A Prayerful Man

I am blessed with a man who prays each week in church as part of his responsibility as an elder. His prayers are best delivered by writing them out first. Through the years I've found bits and pieces of these heavenly supplications strewn here and there, but mostly they are tucked away in his well worn Bible.

My favorite find is a prayer scribbled on the back of an Intermountain Livestock sale flyer. Each Thursday in LaGrande, Oregon ranchers flock to the cattle sale. Sometimes Rahn goes there to buy or sell. It's a swirling, whirling din of cattle bawling, the smell of fresh manure, and layers of churned up dust which hangs heavily in the air. The place closer resembles a smokey bar room than cattle palace. I think the draw is more about hanging out with his rancher friends, laughing and kabitzing, than it is about cattle buying and selling. How moments of inspiration hit him in that setting is beyond me, but then again, nothing inspires him more than a black baldy cow! One Christmas I gathered up all the scraps of paper and published (with help from Katie, our office manager) a booklet of his prayers.

Lord's Day prayer today was exceptional. So much so that as I looked over at my lovely oldest daughter sitting next to me, I saw her wiping her eyes. I know it was a mixture of the beautiful prayer and the circumstances around the day. Today Rahn is stepping down as an elder after some twenty years of being one at our church. The combination of reasons why, I won't go into right now. Suffice it to say, it is a new chapter in our lives. For me, it is sadness unspeakable--on so many levels. Yet, Rahn's supplication below gives me courage to go on shoulder to shoulder and to realize that though this chapter is over, our story is not....far from it.

Lord's Day Prayer October 11, 2009

"Our life of faith is a humble, confessing, repenting, tearful, yet joyful life in Christ. Nothing can be more destructive to the Church or to our homes and children then to teach, preach, discipline under the law and to listen to the preaching of the pastor and the prayers of the elders and yet have them think...'Hey, I know you--where is your joy?...I know how you don't repent and it seems to me you want us to be something different from the whole example you display for us.'

God forbid that that would happen in our churches or in our homes. Lets us run to the good news of the gospel, and then joyfuly welcome the instruction to understand, obey, and delight in the law. There is no safe investment in the kingdom of God. To love Christ and His church is to be vulnerable. Love anything, and our hearts will certainly be wrung out and possibly broken. If we want to make sure of keeping our hearts intact, we must give our hearts to no one; certainly not to Christ. If we wrap them up carefully with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements; our hearts will not be broken; instead, our hearts will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable. The alternative to tragedy, or at least to the risk of tragedy, is damnation. The only place outside Heaven where we can be perfectly safe from all the dangers and perterbations of love, is Hell.

May we draw nearer to God, not by trying to avoid the sufferings inherent in love, but by accepting those sufferings and offering them to Him; throwing away all of our defensive armor. If our hearts need to be broken; and if He chooses this as a way in which they should break, so be it. There are only two kinds of people in the end. Those who say to God, "Thy will be done. And those to whom God says, "Thy will be done." May each one of us be of the first."

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