Wednesday, July 02, 2014

Prayer and Loss (Prayer Summer 2014)

Linda and I, in Leland, Michigan

Many years ago Linda lost one of her journals. We looked and searched the house but could not find it. Sometimes I still think it's buried somewhere in our attic, waiting to be found.

I wanted so much to find the journal for her. I felt the loss of her recorded memories.

Sometimes I think I lose more things than I find. At my age I've lost a lot of time and space. I'm no longer where I was, permanently. To lose something is to leave it behind, forever. Some of these losses are painful, as they should be. All loss is the death of something.

Two weeks ago Linda and I visited my brother Mike and his wife Sue. One of the things I do when I go back to Rockford (Illinois) is take 2-3 hours and walk, slowly, through the neighborhoods I grew up in. I return to the places where I once lived. These places have changed! I looked at the red maple tree my father planted in the front yard of our house and it's huge, overwhelming the view of the house. This place is no longer the same. The time is gone, forever. All of that is...   lost. 

It is important for me to think about these things. I remember my many time-and-space losses and bring them into the now-presence of God, where they are understood and redeemed. To "redeem" is to take a loss and convert it into a gain. God is my Redeemer, the One who turns sadness into gladness, tears into joy, death into life. 

Those who go out weeping,

    carrying seed to sow,
will return with songs of joy,
    carrying sheaves with them.
- Ps. 126:6

Do not battle change. Change always means the loss of something. But it can also mean gain. In order for there to be gain there must be change. While all loss is the death of something, some deaths are needed to bring new life. 

I discover this in the act of praying. I am connected to God, in praying. The prayer-God connection causes my life to be fruit-bearing. I don't want to go back to the past. I want to bear fruit and life and love and power, now. 

Two weeks ago I prayer-walked through 5 miles of childhood memories. I had some moments of felt loss as I thought of my parents, the park next to our house where I played, my neighborhood friends and enemies (a bully lived down the street from us), the schools I attended (I walked by all of them!), the trees my dad planted in our yard (including the birch tree in the back yard), and the church we went to. It feels important to do this, to attend to these memories. They inform my present life and interpret it. Because I have become a praying person, I bring all these past times and spaces into God's Redeeming Presence, where he converts them into current fruitfulness. Two weeks ago I prayer-walked through my past. But I, also, had changed. I returned carrying sheaves and songs of joy. I have experienced great gain!

1. Identify your losses.
2. Bring them to God in the act of praying.
3. God our Redeemer will convert them into gain, now.