A Prayer Remembered

Greenville, SC

January 2006

Hi there, friends.

As I shared in my last post, I've been learning more and more about this pruning year and what it has held for me. Whereas I have previously looked at this last year as a terrific blight upon my soul, I'm beginning to see that from God's point of view, it has all been utterly intentional and even good.

The beginning of this realization came when, as I shared in my last post, two people totally unrelated from the other asked if the inadequacies I've been feeling in my listening practice might somehow be gift. That notion struck me as laughable at first, but I eventually came to see that it has held the gift of my utter dependence on God. Through my inadequacies, others have received more of God and less of me.

And that's when I remembered the prayer.

Last summer, a new prayer emerged in my times of quiet with God. This was in the midst of my summer of solitude and study.

It was a prayer to learn how to die.

Now, this wasn't a prayer for physical death, but rather for Jesus to become all that other people see and receive when they encounter me and for me to become completely hidden from sight. This might sound like a strange prayer, but it emerged out of a growing adoration and love for God. I found myself, as his beloved one, wanting to give him everything. I thirsted to be undone and lost for him. I wanted him, my beautiful beloved, to be the only one seen.

Through this process, I began to sense God's re-naming of me as his Hidden One. It was a tender name for me to receive from him, and we shared such sweet times of conversation and contemplation during the weeks this prayer was at the forefront of my intention. It became the great joy of my heart to give God more and more of myself. I sincerely wanted to become nothing so that he could become everything in and through me.

It's so obvious to me, looking back on things now, to see that these past 15 months have been an answer to that prayer (and is still in progress). And yet somehow, once the fall months began and chaos ensued, I totally forgot about that prayer.

I think it fell off my radar because I couldn't in any way connect the consolation and joy I held in those sweet prayer times with the stumbling, fumbling confusion I began to experience in greater and greater measure everywhere I turned. There just seemed to be no connection at all between them. It felt like I'd entered a totally foreign land. (And in a way, I guess I had.) But I think that's why I fought as hard as I did against what happened once the summer ended. I thought God and I were headed in one direction, but he took me in another.

Now, 15 months later, I see what needed to happen.

First, I can see that he took me through a solid year of chaos in order to unglue me. And it worked. I could not depend on myself if I tried. No matter where I turned, all I met was overwhelm. I was utterly, utterly unglued. I felt like a fish flopping about on the shore with no water to keep it alive.

And then, a few months ago, when I stepped away from some commitments in order to create greater spaciousness and quiet in my heart, I did recover a deep and solid sense of myself again (for which I'm so completely grateful!), but I then also found myself back in familiar territories that now, for the first time ever, felt totally and completely foreign. As you know from my previous post, that resulted in a whole lot of desperate, pleading prayers for God to fill up what I lacked.

So I became unglued, and then I became dependent.

I'm still learning as I go in this process, but God has been gracious to pull back the covers and give me a peek at his intention through all this. That peek is such a gift because we're not always granted those gifts, are we?

But now I can say in all honesty that this past year has been a gift. I can give thanks for it, which is a total marvel to me. I see that God, in his own mysterious ways, has been answering my prayer to learn to die. Less of me, more of him . . . even though I had no idea he was diligently about that work all along.