Friday, 6 January 2012

Lessons learned


Many of us have mini crises in our lives - often that is manifest through loss/injury/hurt of someone, but sometimes it can be slightly more removed from that - such as the losing of important documents whilst travelling. This can become an incredibly stressful event, even if nobody's life is in imminent danger. This happened to me this week when I was in London to collect Joshua's visa. The small bag that contained all our precious documents (marriage certificate, passports, birth certificates and important receipts) was with me no more. The worst part about it was I didn't notice that the smaller bag was missing until I was almost home because it was 'supposed' to be contained within the bigger rucksack I was carrying on my back. 

When such a crisis hits, many of us turn to prayer. As you would imagine, my experience started with panic. Anyone who has gone through the process of getting visas for their family to work overseas will know the expense and time and energy needed to replace any/all of them. I called my wife, Becky, immediately who worked hard at calming me down (though I could feel the tensions rising on the other end of the phone too). I was in Luton market at the moment I realised, getting my new mobile phone unlocked. I felt all-of-a-sudden claustrophobic and a tightening of my neck muscles. I asked the guy at the market stall to hold onto my phone for a bit whilst I take a walk. I went to the toilets, expecting to throw up, or something, but nothing. It was then that I turned to prayer. Not caring how I looked to others in the shopping centre bathroom, I started praying fervently to God for his help (I resisted dropping to my knees, but I did metaphorically). The first answer to prayer came immediately - it was in the form of an amazing sense of peace that came over me. My breathing returned to normal and I felt that somehow (though I didn't know at this stage how), everything would be ok. 

I began the painful process of retracing my steps back from Luton through every shop, back to the train station and back to London, making sure to pick up my newly unlocked phone in the process. Eyes focused on the floor, wishing somehow that it was lying somewhere nearby. As I gradually went through this painstaking process, a couple of glimmers of hope turned out to be false (including the train guard telling me that 'they've found a bag with passports in St Pancras'). Finally, in London, slowly tracing my steps back, I continue my prayer, which went something like: "Lord, my worship of you is not dependent on my circumstances. But please help me find this bag with all the documents in it." That is when the second answer to prayer came. I heard God say to me: "You prayed with such passion then, but why do you wait for a crisis to pray like this?". I felt thoroughly rebuked, but knew deep in my heart, the truth of it. Over the past couple of months, I have become so busy that my prayer life has reduced down to very simple, and often half-hearted quiet times. 
As I acknowledged this and pledged to turn around and spend more serious time in prayer, I received a phone call from my brother-in-law. He had been called by lost property at St Pancras station and told that the item that I was looking for had been found.And it was. All the documents in tact and collected. Back in my hands. I held onto that small back so tightly, never wishing to see it depart from my sight again!

I don't believe God took that bag from me, but I see how he used the situation to get my attention - for which I am so grateful. Now is the task of follow through. Quiet time is a must. Please Lord help me to spend more time with you. 

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