By: Jana Greene
Four months into seminary (or, as I like to call it snarkily ‘Holy Roller School,’ after an acquaintance referred to it as such) and I am starting to see things in a whole new light. I hope more and more light seeps in and around me, as I continue on this trepidation journey to fire my old god and fully embrace the God of Love. Accepting pure love is harder than you’d think.
Today our community lost a local celebrity – and venomous snake aficionado – to a domestic violence incident. The man was missing fingers from messing with the most dangerous snakes in the world, and yet he died from a gunshot, presumably fired by his wife.
If you met him, you’d never forget him. He was so un-vanilla; a very colorful character.
As these things go, my little web of Facebook friends started posting the in-credulousness of his death, and before you know it, information is spreading like wildfire.
The murder happened in a little apartment over the Cape Fear Serpentarium – owned and operated by the victim. So the first hints of what had happened were…
I wonder if it was the snake guy?
The serpent dude is dead!
Half of the street has blocked off around the serpentarium!
Speculation runs amok. Did his wife shoot him in self defense? Where was his toddler at the time of the shooting? All kinds of scenarios play out in an epic display of what the great George Carlin often referred to as ‘brain droppings” – thoughts that used to clang around in our skulls and peter out are now open fodder for theorists – conspiracy or otherwise. Butcher, baker, candlestick maker…everyone has a platform in the interwebs, myself included. Within a page of feed, he was either a wife-beating monster or a national treasure, victimized by his spouse. In reality, nobody knows exactly what happened at this juncture.
I have felt convicted of the ‘Proper Prayer Reproach” lately. It goes something like this:
I need the facts to pray. What if he was a vile monster who provoked his wife to violence? As a Christian, I should hope he is in ‘hell’ facing eternity skinny dipping in a lake of fire! Right?
But what if he was just a little quirky – a genius with serpents but not so much marriages? Then we should pray that he is standing at the Pearly Gates.
Who gets top billing in this prayer thing?
When did Christians – of ALL people – earn the right to cherry pick who is deserving of what fate? What if we ‘accidentally’ pray a blessing on someone who is guilty? God forbid.
Sometimes, we use Proper Prayer Reproach as a way to gossip, as in “I need more information on Suzie Q. so that I can pray for her better….”
Other times, it’s even a little malevolent – manipulation sandwiched between two slices of self-righteousness. “Lord, do your Karma thing because so-and-so really deserves it.”
I can assure you as a Holy Roller student, God is the only judge of who deserves what. And that no matter who/what/when/where there is a need for prayer, Jesus gets top billing. When we think we have to know who the Bad Guy is in order to pray, we are making the praying all about ourselves, our power.
I’m learning this as I go. Parts of me really want to get all the facts on a given situation so that I can ‘pray properly.’ But prayer can’t – and shouldn’t – wait. And we will never in a million years have an understanding of every nuance and action that all parties involved have experienced.
So here is my prayer for the gentleman and his family. I ask that you join me in prayer – whatever that looks like to you.
I pray for the deceased, that he is at your feet right now as we speak, and that his heart is whole and his spirit at peace. I don’t know if he knew you in life, but you’ve known him before he was in his mother’s womb. I pray he recognizes your face as the countenance of an old friend. I pray that you welcome him.
I also don’t know what his wife believed, and right now she needs you more than ever. She may not even believe in you, but you believed in her since before time. Tonight she is in a cell, likely terrified and shattered. Sit on the jailhouse bench with her, so close that she knows you are tangible. Pour your love out on her.
Jesus, there is a three year old child whose whole life as he knew it was changed forever today. He is an innocent victim, an instant orphan. He is perfectly adorable – when I saw this little boy’s picture, I immediately thought, ‘this must be how Papa sees his kids,’ mischievous twinkle in his eye and cherubic smile. Oh, sweet Jesus. Wrap your arms around that child and minister to his little spirit in a powerful way. I don’t know anything about him, but I know you desire him to grow up and walk alongside you. That’s what good Papas want for their little ones.
I don’t need the facts to ask God to intercede. Prayer is urgent! It brings God into the darkness, banishing it. Lord, help me to see more light.
That’s seminary progress, from a lifetime student of the Proper Prayer Reproach.
Jesus. Jesus. Jesus.
Comfort. Move. Surround. Inhabit. Assure. Draw near.