Engraved: Seen

“Can we go for a walk?” Rachel asked. Their Saturday talks have become regular and they started to become very close but today, she had a hard time staying still.

Sarah agreed and they both strolled off without saying anything at thing at first. They had grown comfortable with each other, so silences weren’t awkward anymore.

They passed a group of boys from their hall. Rachel spoke, pulling her friend to the present, “They always stare at you, you know.”

Rachel said despairingly, “I know.” Her plump figure always gave her more attention from men than she’d like despite her prude-like attire. Rachel noticed she seems to love long sleeve tops.

Switching the subject quickly, she asked how the journey has been going.

Rachel gave a loud sigh, “Honestly? I still don’t have a lot of things clear in my mind, but I have been praying more. At first, my prayers were self-loathing and condemning. They were awkward and sometimes I just sat in tears. Slowly, I felt God healing my heart, I don’t cry as often again. Last weekend though, I went home, and I…I talked to my mom.”

Sarah stopped in her tracks and turn to her, “Like talk, talk?”

Rachel responded softly, “Yes.”

Sarah tugged at her elbow and said, “Tell me everything.”

Rachel swallowed before starting, “I took her out to dinner. We talked about school and work for a bit. I noticed she avoided bringing up grandma. Then I said mom, I have something I want us to discuss tonight. She looked immediately directly at me. I then shared how I have been feeling during previous weeks. I told her about how her emotional unavailability affected me and surprisingly, she listened intently, teary-eyed and almost giving a knowing nod.”

Sarah asked hurriedly, “Did she say anything?”

“When I was through with that and waited for her to say something, she was silent for a while and then she started talking, working hard to keep her voice under control. She apologized profusely and reached for my hands. She told me she was in a dark place before I was born and then she just never knew how to get out. She told me she loved me too, mom doesn’t say those things, ever. I can remember feeling that for the first time in my life I felt like my mother actually saw me. Like, she looked up from her pain and saw my own. She said she does want things to be different between us especially since it is just us, with that, I took the opportunity to ask about my father.”

Sarah was in disbelief, this was not the girl she knew some weeks ago, she thought, look at the confidence one can find in having communion God.

Rachel continued, “She said we should talk about this in the car. So, we left and when we settled in the car, I asked her again. She held on to the steering wheel for what seems like support. Before she could get out anything, she started crying, like ugly crying. I was confused but when I attempted to put my hand on her shoulders, she flinched and said, “Listen before you comfort me.”

She continued, “I was 21 at the time. He was 25, we went to school together. I was pursuing nursing, He was studying to be a pilot. One day, I was in the library one day and came and sat right next to me, but he said nothing just like hello and stuff. He did this for a few weeks, if he wasn’t around the table where I was, he would be nearby. One day, when I started to leave the library, He asked me where I was headed to and I said to my class. He offered to follow me there and we started talking every day before classes. Before I knew it, we were spending so much time together, He seemed so genuinely concerned about me, He even went to church with me and was always there to listen. After a while, we claimed to have fallen in love.” She mocked.

Rachel then said to Sarah, “Mom continued by saying that at the time she wasn’t interested in a relationship, my grandma and grandfather were working really hard at a factory to send her to school, it was best she focused on school, focused on God. She said these words, “I knew that I just … I just don’t know why I did it,” with that she used her hands to cover her face and sobbed even more. Rachel said, “I felt such shame and guilt in her voice. I thought, what could she feel so guilty about? Then it hit me, it was me, Sarah, she was ashamed she had me.”                                                     

Sarah started, “I am so sorry Rachel…”

Rachel stopped her, “Wait until you hear about him.”

Sarah held her breath. Rachel continued, “Mom said that when she told him about me. He was really torn up about it, he fell into depression immediately. He wasn’t ready for a family. He was on a student loan, he had a few years left and wasn’t working, how could he support a child? So, he encouraged her to abort me.”

“Sarah, I almost vomited!” Rachel exclaimed, “How could he even think of that? It wasn’t my fault.”

Those last four words hit Sarah deeper than she anticipated. “It wasn’t my fault.” she thought.   

Rachel saw Sarah had gone into someplace in her mind that left her with a blank expression. Rachel called out to her and she answered after the second time. She asked if she was ok and Sarah convinced her friend to continue.

Rachel said, “Mom said she couldn’t bear that guilt, so she didn’t. With her decision, he stopped talking to her. He left her life without a trace except for a growing baby girl. He left her to face my grandparents alone. What a coward! They were beyond disappointed. They couldn’t look at her for days. In just a few months everyone would know at the church, her family members and school friends. She said she would be lying if she said that she didn’t contemplate suicide but that wouldn’t do any good. At the time it was expected that she leaves her parents’ house. So, she got a job, rented a place and worked for some months before my birth so she could buy what I needed.”

Rachel continued, “She then said, When I had you, I felt so alone, no one except mom helped me. My father tried coming around, but it seems he never got over the shame I caused. All I have ever known from that moment is pain and it consumed me.” I then asked her, “What is his name, where is he now? She said his name is Devon Dixon, but she doesn’t know where he is. The last she heard he finished school and went overseas. I am not sure yet if I want to meet him or even talk to him, I mean what would I even say?”

Sarah then asked, “I understand. How does all of this make you feel?”

Rachel gave a long sigh and said, “Now that I know why I was abandoned by my father and why mother was not emotionally present it doesn’t take away the rejection I feel or the anger. I talked to God about it though and guess what?! He spoke to me, Sarah. He led me to scripture too. 1 Cor. 6:20, the one that says that I should glorify God in my body and spirit because they are God’s. Sarah, He said I belong to Him, not my mother, not my father not even Grandma. I am His. So, when the awful thoughts come back as well as the feelings, but I am no longer powerless to them. I can challenge my own thoughts and decide what I believe. I opted to write ‘I am His’ on my room mirror, so when I walk up it is the first thing I see. It is also strange but finding out that if it was based on my parents, I wouldn’t have been alive, it has given me a new sense of purpose.”

Sarah saw that her friend was telling the truth and not some “overnight deliverance” euphoria. When she passed her between classes, she didn’t have this look of otherness anymore. She didn’t look so tired either. She had been seeking for weeks now, she had truly submitted and finally, God could do what He always wanted to do, heal her heart and bring her closer to Him.

She didn’t say anything and in the middle of the campus near the water cooler, she hugged her friend and cried tears of joy. Rachel started crying too. Once they calmed down, they started laughing at themselves behaving like stereotypical girls. They didn’t care though, it was refreshing to be happy, at peace.

Rachel then spotted Mark and called out to him. He walked over and greeted Rachel blissfully but simply called Sarah’s name. Sarah did the same and then they both looked away from each other. Rachel observed this and decided to ask about it later. Mark then said he was headed to the library and sped off.

Sarah then said, “It’s getting late, I am going to go back to the dorm to finish some reading.” The two hugged and said their goodbyes.

Two weeks after Rachel realized Sarah was more and more unavailable to talk with her. She barely answered messages or answered when she knew Rachel was unavailable. Rachel started thinking at first maybe she is now tired of hearing my sad stories and thinks I am just hosting a pity party. But Rachel pushed back her thoughts, chose to believe that wasn’t true and decided to visit her on dorm one Saturday evening. 

Mid-Semesters were at full speed, she saw students studying in the lounge downstairs with huge mugs of coffee and every university student knew what that meant. Rachel had seen improvement in her grades as well, she wasn’t so hazed and tired all the time, she could focus on her lectures and study successfully. She passed more students on the stairs and proceeded to room 203.

The door was slightly opened so Rachel knocked and pushed it a little, “Sarah?” she called.

What she saw when she entered was unimaginable.

How do you hear the voice of God?  

 The noise from our circumstances sometimes seems to drown out the truth of God. What can we do to ensure we are in a position to hear God’s voice?

  • Read the Word

God has already spoken. Everything you desire to know has been revealed in the Word! We tend to feel like we need something more than just words on pages. This means your view of the scriptures is dangerously flawed. You say you don’t know where to start. I say open the book! There are also hundreds of Bible reading plans available. Look one up!

  • Pray

Prayer is not a talk show for you to only voice your concerns. Communication involves talking and listening. We may believe, “I am in this pit God should be the one who should make the first move.” Precious, He has that’s what the cross represents. If an error is present, it is with us. Swallow your pride.

  • Listen

Many people forget this part in prayer. God has something to say too. A personal revelation may be given if we are humble enough to listen. 

  • Fellowship with other Believers

God uses my friends to speak to me too. This even happened today. Participating in corporate worship too is extremely important to believers. The gifting of the Spirit in the body is for our benefit. Go to church! 

What’s Next? You tell me!

This week’s feature was geared to help you with a framework for your talk with your parents and how to hear the voice of God. You can reach me at shanyesica@gmail.com to discuss it further. What did Rachel see? You can guess in the comments!

The Real Reason We Don’t Pray

Wishing, hoping, fixating, those were the emotions I was experiencing when faced with a serious decision. What if I submit? What if I deny? What will the future look like of I choose either? Is this Your will? What are Your plans? The questions went on and on but deep down, looking back, I didn’t really want the answer. My heart was set. My mind was fixed. My will was determined, yet I desired the ‘will of God’. I was reluctant to pray about the issue because I really didn’t want to hear no and if I did, I knew I couldn’t change God’s mind and that would greatly disappoint me. By grace and the help of a spiritual friend, I was encouraged to pray for His will. When the answer came back as no, I felt a peace I didn’t imagine would be present. All those nights up thinking was now gone to waste, all the justifying and forcing to see a silver lining was all done in vain. Yet, my heart was content because it was surrendered. In that moment I truly desired to know the will of God and He spoke.

An unsurrendered heart cannot truly pray for prayer is a work of the heart. The nature of prayer is that it operates like a mirror. It shows where our eyes truly are and most times it is not on God.  The purpose of prayer is not to seduce God into fulfilling our desires by throwing your history of serving Him in His face but it is aligning ours to His. The model prayer states, “Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” We sometimes want to do what we wish and then ask God to just work with it because we already made up our minds. That is the opposite of what God desires for us, He wants us to come to Him first then He will tell us what to do so our efforts won’t be wasted.

Image result for an unsurrendered heart in prayer quote

Our Will isn’t Important

Our will is not important, neither our desires. They are all together vanity!

Ecclesiastes 1:1-2 (KJV) 1 The words of the Preacher, the son of David, king in Jerusalem. Vanity of vanities, saith the Preacher, vanity of vanities; all is vanity.

Romans 7:18 (KJV) For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing:

Precious one, anything of value, of substance comes from God. All good desires come from God.

1 John 2:17, KJV And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever.

That is why we allow him to lead, he almost arrogantly says in Jeremiah 29:11,

11 For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.

We are just gloves in which He places His hands. We were created for His purpose.

How many times have you desired a thing more than the will of God? Do you pray out of duty or because you genuinely want to follow God? Do you wait to get an answer or you feel satisfied to say, “At least I told Him before I did anything, He can stop me if He wishes.”

The Right Way to Pray

Be Open 

For me, I have often opted to not follow a particular pattern. What this means for me is that I just say it how I feel it. If I am straying, sinning or staying, I state exactly how I feel. I learned from early that God sees so much that He even sees the things in me I am unaware of. If I don’t want to yield,I tell Him, if I desire to sin, I tell Him. If I am wrestling with anything I tell Him. Why, because the only way I will get help is if I am open to Him. For example, when you visit a doctor, he diagnoses based on what you tell Him. On the contrary, God already has the diagnoses, we are the ones who are unaware of the specific sickness. Hear me out some more, all sins have a root issue. If I am rebellious to the word, it means I am struggling with idols, something else have my allegiance. But all we observe is our anger when we hear truth or our stubbornness to obey it. God, our doctor, very well knows our problem is really idolatry. Thus, the purpose of us saying is to understand what sickness we are troubled with so we are receptive to whatever treatment He prescribes. So, step 1, Be open, vulnerable, naked, uncovered. Let Him show you your ways, let Him search you.

Proverbs 28:13 New Living Translation (NLT)

13 People who conceal their sins will not prosper,
    but if they confess and turn from them, they will receive mercy.

Listen

Communication

a process by which information is exchanged between individuals through a common system of symbols, signs, or behavior.

Merriam Webster’s Dictionary

Prayer is communication with God. I am a bit unorthodox when it comes on to prayer, I believe when I am communicating with him one on one, I don’t have to actually say the words all the time. There are days when I can’t find the words to say, there are just so many things going on that my heart becomes overwhelmed. In those moments when my mouth fails me, my spirit and mind never. They connect with God and He sees just what I am saying and He comforts me.

If He doesn’t talk back, ever, we are not communicating. Too often we underestimate the fact that God wants to talk to us! He doesn’t need a mountain with clouds, fire and thunder to talk to His people anymore, but deep within your spirit, through His written or spoken word He shouts or whisper. I find that I often hear the voice of God when I actually listen for it, not that I can force God to speak either (there are times when He is intentionally silent). The key is to listen at all times, we don’t know when He will. Before, during and after prayer, you can take pauses to hear what He has to say.

Obey 

Samuel, the oracle of God told Saul that obedience was better than sacrifice. This is the same God that struck a man dead for touching the ark of the covenant because it wasn’t his duty. This was also the same God who made sure that what was expected of the priest when sacrificing was outlined clearly so they wouldn’t drop dead in his presence so the consequences of the people’s sin would be transferred to the animals. If the very God that made all these laws rather you not do them but obey, I think we should consider it an honor to do just that. Uncovering our selves and then listening to God only to disregard what He wishes is an absolute waste of time- no wonder we just don’t start the process any at all.

Why should we obey God?

Romans 2:6-8 New Living Translation (NLT)

He will judge everyone according to what they have done. He will give eternal life to those who keep on doing good, seeking after the glory and honor and immortality that God offers. But he will pour out his anger and wrath on those who live for themselves, who refuse to obey the truth and instead live lives of wickedness.

Other than the obvious implications of disobedience, there is such peace, joy and contentment in obedience.

James 1:25 New Living Translation (NLT)

25 But if you look carefully into the perfect law that sets you free, and if you do what it says and don’t forget what you heard, then God will bless you for doing it.

Precious one, let us change our view of prayer and start delighting in it. It is our connection to the God who loves us and by the way has unlimited power! Take time to make prayer into a habit until it becomes your lifestyle. Our song this week is from Jessica King titled, “Keep Me In Your Will” until next time, remember to pray.