Every month, I get the chance to share my thoughts, my heart, my place with God and through God in a monthly Faith column.
It’s an honest place for my thoughts to land and is always a reflection of life,work, family, helping, trusting, questioning and living a life that reminds of grace. Persistent prayer, the truthful and loving lesson of God, the conversation starters of God’s glorious mercy revealed.
October’s Faith Column, Good Stories
Yesterday, I had the chance to sit amongst several elderly women as they gathered for their Women’s Mission group. Their first meeting after a summer off, they were given the opportunity to share a happy memory of their summer. One shared about becoming a great-grandparent, another about a surprise 50th wedding anniversary gift and finally a third, a widow, shared about moving to a new home. She greeted me upon entering the room, vibrant and with a welcomingly genuine smile. Her face, I noticed was smooth and beautiful with the glow of happiness, a foundation that can’t be purchased at any cosmetics counter. Her new home, she shared, is an apartment in an assisted living facility. She smiled when I told her she lives just across the street from my office and that I could come by for a visit, that I bet she has some very good stories. She said “Oh, please do stop by.” I thought of the stories she may have, her countenance one of peace, I found myself longing to hear her stories of grace, of faith, of persistence.
I was their guest speaker. They wanted to hear about a program that’s often described as a mission: Nurture Home, a transitional shelter for women and children who are homeless. They listened as I detailed facts and figures, the structure of the program and the overall condition of homelessness in South Carolina. I stopped when we focused on the effect of homelessness on children and integrated a favorite story of a precious little boy telling me, “ I love my new house, thank you for my bed”. I shared my favorite stories of lives we’ve touched, opportunities to come alongside women and walk with them as they navigate the detours of their lives. I couldn’t help but notice that the faces of the listeners changed as I sat aside my materials and told the stories of hardship and hope restored. They agreed with me; stories make all the difference.
Stories like Jesus told, parables of people like you and I travelling the road of life, relying on hope and faith. The parables of Jesus are of people who believed after meeting Jesus and of people who were steadfast despite setbacks. The stories are of Jesus as he engaged with his listeners and his disciples, his followers and his doubters; Jesus was the ultimate story teller. His parables are timeless, making our circumstances and our concerns relatable.
In the book of Luke, Chapter 18, we have a chance to understand the value of persistence. Having recently experienced a big answered prayer in my life followed closely by another set of questions and doubt, it has become clear to me that the prayer God longs for is the prayer of persistence. The prayer that doesn’t say, “Oh, thank you, God that was awesome, I’ll talk to you later.”, rather a prayer that demonstrates a commitment to a relationship of patient supplication and trust. In verses 1 through 8, we hear the story of a widow who refused to give up on her plea for justice. An ungodly judge refused to grant her request for justice against her adversary, (vs.3) He eventually honored her persistent plea even though he thought he had no fear of her God, saying “I will see that she gets justice, so that she won’t eventually wear me out with her coming!” (vs.5) He saw she wasn’t giving up. Jesus shared this parable with his disciples to demonstrate that surely if an unkind judge would grant a persistent widow’s wish; wouldn’t it make sense that God will hear the cries of his chosen ones when we cry out to him day and night?
I’ve been thinking about persistence in terms of the longings of my heart; thinking of setbacks, of issues I felt had been resolved through answered prayer that had proven otherwise, or not quite yet. I thought of friends who are waiting for answers in health issues, serious diagnoses and uncertainty of their days. I thought of the widow who lives across the street and how I’d love to hear her stories of confident determination and persistence in prayer. I’m convinced her stories include prayers, and that they are persistent prayers and I just may go over for a visit. Everyone has a story, a story made better with God, a good story.