Friday, September 28, 2012

The Prayer of Relinquishment

A few months ago, one of my dear friends, Jessica, passed around copies of an article to a small group of women, gathered together for a short, 3-week study.  The article was from a Guidepost magazine from 1960, and her mother had passed a copy along to her.

The title of the article was "Prayer of Relinquishment" and was about a woman's journey through illness, and giving up control over that illness, even giving up praying for healing.  She questioned why some prayers are answered and others are not, even the most sincere prayers.

Coming to the end of herself, she told God, "I'm tired of asking.  I'm beaten through, God, You decide what You want for me."

She had not given up faith.  She had given up control over her health.  Over time, she realized that "a demanding spirit, with self-will as its rudder, blocks prayer... God absolutely refuses to violate our free will; that, unless self-will is voluntarily given up, God cannot move to answer prayer."

That hit me like a ton of bricks, and I thought back to times when I had witnessed God moving.  When Sadie was born, and her tiny 4 lb. body couldn't self-regulate temperature, couldn't be outside of her little "tanning bed," I went in to the NICU every day, trying to gauge when I thought she would be able to leave.  Of course, I wanted her to be well enough to leave, but I wanted it NOW!  It was so hard walking out of the hospital without her every day, and I cried out to God for 50 miles to the hospital and 50 miles home to make her well enough to come home.  Every single day.

I sat in the pod with her for 10-12 hours a day, praying over her, holding her close to me as often as I could, feeding her, bathing her, willing her time in the NICU to come to an end.  Finally, I let go of what I wanted and asked for God to heal her in His time, to let His will be done.  Within a day or two, we were asked to bring her car seat in, and she went home shortly after.

When we started this adoption, we needed $7,000 in 7 days, and I didn't know where that was coming from.  Even though we were fundraising, there wasn't enough.  I remember laying on my couch, crying violently, telling God that $7,000 was too much for me to raise in such a short time, that He would have to work it out.  That I didn't even know if I had a mustard seed of faith to go on.  And on the 7th day, ten minutes before our agency's office closed, I hand-delivered a check for the full amount.

And I thought about other times I prayed and prayed and prayed, and I didn't get an answer.  It's hard to let go of those prayers, to give up that control.  If God's not answering, at least I'm still asking, still doing something, right?

And this next part is really important.  "[The Prayer of Relinquishment] does not let us lie down in the dust of a godless universe and steel ourselves just for the worst.  Rather it says: 'This is my situation at the moment.  I'll face the reality of it.  But I'll also accept willingly whatever a loving Father sends.'  Acceptance therefore never slams the door on hope."

All of that novel to say this:  Early yesterday afternoon, I told God I was overwhelmed.  That I don't know if I can keep working on this large local fundraiser, get ready for two weeks of travel (and two weeks of everything at home needing to be ready), and focus on fundraising for plane tickets.  It was too much for me, so I just really needed Him to do something big.  I had reached the end of myself.  (Scott later told me that he had been praying for something big for me, because I was at the maximum I could handle.)

Now I'm tearing up as I type, because the answer was so swift, such a blessing to us, and such an incredible sacrifice on the part of the giver.  At 5:00, I received a phone call from one of my dear friends, who we are so blessed to have in our lives, and her family is gifting to us $3,000.  It's not here yet, but it will be.  I was an absolute mess after I hung up the phone.  I went to the one place every woman can have a good cry, and just washed all those tears of joy down the drain.  And at about 8:30 last night, I was handed two checks: one for $1,000 and one for $200.

So, the God of the universe, my Father, my Abba, the One who says He cares for the orphan, provided when I gave up on being in control of the money.  Once we have that $3,000 in hand, we will have the remainder of our first trip expenses, our USCIS fees that we need to pay as soon as we get home, and the start of our final fees, which will be due within a month or two of us coming home.

I immediately thought of Ephesians 3:20: "Now to Him who is able to do far more abundantly beyond all that we ask or think, according to the power that works within us..."  He did abundantly more than I hoped for.  Abundantly more than I imagined.  He provided beyond my expectations.  As He always has, when I allow Him to.

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