Last Saturday, I awoke to the feeling of nausea , and within 45 minutes I was hugging the toilet. With that, I began a day of wallowing around in bed and aching like I’d been given tetanus shots all over my body. As I lay there suffering, Renee, my two-year-old, walked into my bedroom. She’s grown much more attached to me lately, and Saturday is usually a day we spend time playing together – but it wasn’t happening that day.
There was a time in my adult life when I thought we were only supposed to confess our sins to God. I based it on scriptures like, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us of all unrighteousness.” (1 John 1:9). But at some point, I ran across a more intimidating verse: “Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed.” (James 5:16) (emphasis added).
I had just met the elderly, heavy-set woman at the dinner party. Without any prompting from me, she told me I needed physical healing (I did; I had a long-running, chronic illness). She said the reason I hadn’t been healed was because I had allowed Satan to keep me in bondage, but if I started praying in faith, God would take my sickness away.
I have a Jewish friend named Jared who grew up in southern California and has minimal experience with evangelicals. Every once in a while, I introduce him to elements of our sometimes-odd subculture. The other day, a short conversation provided an opportunity to explain the all-important evangelical phrase, “I do/don’t have a peace about it.”
Not too long ago, I was at the gym early one morning, and I felt unusually aware of God’s love and presence in my life (and that’s saying something, because the only thing I’m usually aware of at that hour is my need for more sleep). Anyway, although I felt groggy, I began internally singing the words of a simple worship song to Jesus. However, I had trouble focusing on the song due to the speakers at the gym, which were blaring OutKast’s song, “I Like the Way You Move.”
A few months ago, my doctor gave me a drug called Topamax to address some migraine-like symptoms I was having. Although it helped with the symptoms, it also left me with a perpetual sense of drunkenness, an inability to pronounce simple words, and an overall lack of discretion. If I thought it, I said it; and I was proud of it. With all the awkwardness of a socially inept 14-year-old, I bumbled my way through conversations, yielding profoundly embarrassing results. I was off the drug in less than a week.
I’m usually the first one to greet my daughter every morning when she wakes up. I hold her torso against my chest, she presses her face against my neck, and I rock her. Before long, though, she starts squirming as the need for her morning milk exceeds her need for morning hugs.
I have a confession to make: it’s been about three or four weeks since I’ve read my Bible for more than 15 minutes. Believe it or not, I actually like to read my Bible. But unfortunately, it doesn’t come naturally for me to sit down and focus on it – or to sit down, period.
My mother got married at a young age, and she brought a simple dream to that marriage: she wanted to raise four kids. That was pretty much it. Yet six years into marriage, there were no children. For six years, she repeatedly pleaded for God’s mercy, for Him to grant her a child. But in six years, the only child she conceived died in a painful miscarriage.
Ask anyone what their prayer life is like, and they will probably respond with a sentence that has the word “should” or “ought” or “could” in it somewhere. “I should probably spend more time in prayer.” “I probably ought to do better about spending time with God.” “I could definitely pray more regularly.”