In Times of (Some) Trouble

I’ve heard it’s easy to trust God when things are going great. When things are looking up, we look up. However, when crises arise we focus on what we can do instead of asking for help.

That makes sense, I thought when I first heard this idea.

I’ve also heard, though, that when we have plenty, we forget about God and perhaps tend to believe it’s all from our own making. Then, when we hit rock bottom, we kneel and ask God to take hold of us because we just can’t go on.

Of course that’s how it works. (See, hindsight bias applies for erroneous conclusions, too.)

So, which one is it? Which one is the universal principle we should apply? I don’t know I care which ‘axiom,’ if any, better describes reality in this context. What I can tell you is I’ve struggled to be close to God in both situations.

When things were okay, I prayed for meals and before going to bed—morning prayer has always eluded me. Once the day looked ominous, I prayed for meals and before going to bed. Treading rough emotional patches, I prayed for meals and before going to bed.

Although I’m not sure I’ve prayed every night in the last two weeks, my relationship with God hasn’t improved nor deteriorated. But perhaps, things have changed slightly.

Scattered throughout the year, from January and through the summer, I’ve dropped to the floor and pleaded with God for guidance, for the certainty I once had. In the last few weeks, those prayers come with tears.

I’ve shed copious tears (in that regard, I live an opulent life), but I maintain abundant reserves.

I just don’t have time or space to cry, even if I need it. Do I have time for a chapter of two of First Peter when I need to soon decide whether I stay or go home to Mexico?

How do I take time to read the Gospels when I’m trying to find some solid ground—ironic, I know—or at least prepare a speech to recite when I’m asked what I’m doing, why I’m still around?

Petty social stuff, right? I’m guilty!

But how can I read little, cutesy devotionals when on top of the existential crises I need to figure out where from I’ll get enough for food?

How do I take time for God when time is what I don’t have? Think about your life in heaven, I can hear you say. I get it, there’s a life after this one, but this one is pretty fucking real.

How do I take time for morning prayer when I have no idea where I’m sleeping that night?

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Yet, God has provided in abundance. Not the way I expected, not in all matters, but in what I needed most then.

I don’t care about those universal principles we come up with for the next pop religion book or viral sermon. Don’t give me the prosperity gospel or the newest Joel Osteen grin.

When things are not looking up, I’ll look up. I’ll try that. It’s all I can do.

A Prayer

God,

Yesterday, just before the beginning of the Sabbath, I began feeling uneasy. I read a devotional this morning that talked about those who follow God’s command and lead seemingly godly lives that might even involve preaching but are looking for Your presence to overwhelm their soul. I’m one of those. While I have preached not long ago and written in this blog regularly, I’ve been looking for You. I’ve been craving a transcendental experience with You.

It has been a long time since that time I really felt like You hugged me. I probably sounded crazy saying that, but it’s true. I felt Your embrace. Why can’t I feel it now?

Am I too worried about the future? Am I too busy looking into myself trying to figure out what I need to change instead of putting my eyes upon Jesus? Am I too tired figuring out what it is You want me to do that I neglect my personal relationship with You? Am I taking it upon myself to go from weak to strong instead of falling back on the One who says, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness?” Why is my spirit overwhelmed when I should “boast all the more gladly about my weakness, so that Christ’s power may rest on me?”

Just fill me with Your grace and love and forgiveness. Help me go from knowing to understanding and then living. Get rid of my arrogance and the baseless, useless superiority complex that so often makes me unable to learn from others. “Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.”

Lord, I’m tired.

Give me strength.

#001 – Why Do We Pray Before Meals?

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Last night I got together with two friends to discuss why as Christians we do/should/shouldn’t pray before meals.

These are some of the readings that we did:

If you have an answer to the question or a story you would like to share, please do it below. I’d love to hear what you have to say.