If You Only Knew - 16

Zuri

Wednesday found me once more on my way to prayer meeting. As usual, Zuri asked me how my day in school had been, what interesting new books I was reading, and how my cousin’s health was. We lapsed into silence after that, because it was obvious that I did not want to talk, and Zuri was one of those rare adults who didn’t take that personally. She left me alone with my thoughts and  cheerfully navigated the horrible inner-city traffic while blasting the classical music in her car.

I remember that day we were listening to Liszt. What had she told me about him? Oh, yes, he was the rock star of his day. Women swooned when he performed. He had groupies, too. I was rather indifferent to him.

“I love this part” she said to herself—or to me—and while I didn’t say anything, I fixed my eyes on her hands. She had a curious habit of slightly tapping her fingers while she drove as if trying to play the piano on the steering wheel. There they went to the rhythm of Hungarian Rhapsody. She had beautiful hands. Slender, with tapered fingers, and pink nails. A pianist’s hands. A healer’s hands. Surely they would be incapable of harming others….

I struggled to tear my eyes from them, “Zuri, I have a question.”

“Sure, what is it?” She said, and turned down the volume

“Remember Monday, you gave me something for my stomach?”

“Of course!” she smiled wryly at me, “Who could forget that?”

“Well…what was that thing you gave me? Those bitter leaves?”

“Oh, you mean the absinthe wormwood?”

“Yeah!… I mean, does it have side-effects?”

“What do you mean?”

“Like…” I began to feel really stupid, and there was no way to ask the question without divulging things “I don’t even know. Never mind.”

“No. Tell me.”

I struggled to put my query into words, “Well. I had a very strange dream that night. A very strange dream.”

“A nightmare?”

I thought about it. No. It had not been a nightmare. I had woken up in tears, but I’d not had a nightmare.

“It was strange dream, and it felt very real…it wouldn’t happen to have been because of the…the”

“The wormwood? No. I’ve never heard that type of side effects”

“Oh.” I felt disappointed.

“What did you dream?”

I did not answer immediately. I waited until we exited the freeway, drove up the avenue that led to the church, and parked. I waited for Zuri to turn off the ignition, and only then did I dare speak the unspeakable.

“Grandma. I dreamt of Grandma. I don’t remember the details, only the feeling that we were together again.” I took a deep breath, feeling like I wanted to cry, or be sick, or both. But I composed myself when I remembered her hands. Healer’s hands that were now blurry through my vision.

“Zuri, can you tell me if I’m gonna die?”

– – –

part 16 of If You Only Knew

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Baggage

If you don’t let go of your baggage, eventually your passions turn into poison

My passion is to reach people. Be it through art, through writing, music, or even doing an act of kindness. Lately, though, I’ve been harboring feelings of frustration, I’ve been suffering from a lack of drive and real joy. . . . It’s been awful. It took someone else to point out that there is even anger involved–a backlash from being hurt in the past. I didn’t recognize it, and I’m still not sure just how far back into the past by baggage goes.

But I think it’s time to lose it.

Because if my passions are turning into poison, that would be a very dire thing for me. I wouldn’t have a reason to live. It would be like dying.

I need prayers.

The Sabbath

The Seventh Day as the Sabbath – Discussion Notes

Garden Grove SDA – Young Adult Sabbath School
28 Fundamental Beliefs – #20: The Seventh-Day as the Sabbath
May 10, 2014
Duration ~ 50min

Icebreaker Question

Please state your name and share with us your go-to trick for staying energized/staying awake.

Preamble:

Few of us are aware that at the moment America is suffering from a public health epidemic that is becoming frightfully common in our society. The lack of rest.

Take sleep, for example.

Q1 How many of you get in daily 7-8 hours? 5-6 hours? 4 or less hours?

Adults are recommended 7-8 hours daily. According to data from the National Health Interview Survey, a third of adults sleep less than 6 hours of sleep per day. Furthermore, the average American sleeps time of 6 ½ hours is a 25% drop since the early 20th century. How dismal….

But what about vacations?

Q2 How many of you get paid vacations?

You are a fortunate lot… 23% of American workers get no paid vacation time and no paid holidays.

But it’s not just about the lack of benefits; it’s about actually making use of those vacation privileges, too! Of those Americans who had vacation benefits in the year 2011, 57% of them had not made full use of their vacation days by the end of the year.

We are starved for rest as never before. To make up for it, we rev up on Red Bull, Starbucks, sodas—you name it. Our society is craving the physical and mental health benefits of a day of rest.

So before we begin talking about rest, and the provision God made for our hectic lives, let’s have a word of prayer.

Prayer

Introduction – The statement from the 28 fundamental Beliefs

The Sabbath is God’s gift to us, a time for rest and restoration of our connection to God and others. It reminds us of God’s creation and Jesus’ grace.

Continue reading

Mountain of Intercession, Valley of Interaction

So Joshua…fought with Amalek, while Moses, Aaron, and Hur went up to the top of the hill. (Exodus 17:10 ESV)

When the Amalekites attacked the Israelites camp in Exodus 17, Moses bid Joshua take men to battle with the assurance that he would be praying for him. Thus, the battle took place on two fields that day: In the valley of interaction with Joshua, and in the mountain of intercession, with Moses. Both battlefields are important.

  1. “Divine strength is to be combined with human effort— There is a saying in Spanish that says A Dios orando y con el maso dando. Literally it means “Praying to God as you strike with the hammer” God blesses human efforts, and his blessing come in proportion to how much energy and effort you put in.
  2. The success you get while in the valley of interaction will be dependent on whether you are winning or losing ground in the mountain of intercession. It was noted that whenever Moses held up his hand, Israel prevailed, and whenever he lowered his hand, Amalek prevailed (Exodus 17:11).

Those are the “obvious” lessons. They deal with success in the valley of interaction. But there is one more that I’m driving at, and it deals with success in the mountain of intercession. It is a much more complex thing.

* * *

One of the things I’ve just now come to understand is that though the purposes of God are incredibly mysterious to us, they resolve beautifully in the end. That chain of events when life seemed to get out of control made perfect sense once I was able to look back, connect the dots, and see how God made much good come out of it. Oswald Chambers put it like this:

The circumstances of a saint’s life are ordained of God. In the life of a saint there is no such thing as chance. God by His providence brings you into circumstances that you cannot understand at all…bringing you into places and among people and into conditions in order that the intercession of the Spirit in you may take a particular line…to bring them before God’s throne and give the Spirit in you a chance to intercede for them.

So for the past two weeks I took this to heart. I made a list in a paper of the people in my life—family, friends, and other people I interact with and I prayed over them daily. My prayer time increased by as much as fifteen minutes. It was a short list, you see.

But each day as I prayed I thought of a new name, and added it to the list so that it grew and grew. It came to include people I love, and people I cannot stand. People I wish I could help, people I want to avoid. People I admire and people I secretly envy. People who have hurt me and people who have brought me joy. People that inadvertently make my life miserable, and people whom I have hurt. People I need to forgive, and people whom I need forgiveness from. People who are poor and sick and in great need. People who seem to have it all.

As you may imagine, my prayer time increased dramatically the longer my list grew. Praying more is, indeed, a benefit. However, I never imagined that after my first week or so I would have to encounter some people whom I could not face. People I literally hid from. They had been in my mind as I prayed, and in my heart of hearts I begged God to make them go away from my life.

The answer to this prayer came the next week. I was forced to encounter them, and yet it was so sudden and unexpected that I didn’t even have time to be embarrassed or nervous. Instead I was empowered to face the situation with grace, and I parted amicably with them.

It took a few minutes for me to realize that in reality, while I had been praying for other people, God had been at work in me, preparing me to go down to battle.

* * *

It is a tendency we all have to seek the Lord when we are in the greatest need. The truth, however, is that the victory in the battlefield is won in part by how we pray up in the mountain of intercession.

Why? Maybe it is because that is where we get out of ourselves. Instead of looking at our lives from the angle of our needs, our complaints, and our particular point of view, we begin to see it as part of a vast, living network. Each of us precious and important to God. Or maybe it is because we realize that there are others who are in greater need, in more pain, and whose troubles are greater than ours–Yet how awesome is it when we are reminded of God’s power when we see the answers of our prayers in other people’s lives? Super awesome. I just think that when we pray for others we empty ourselves and begin grow more and become more conscious of God’s work on Earth.

Sooner or later we all have to go down into battle, but until the next battle rages, are you preparing yourself in the mountain of intercession?