Prayer · Spiritual

Mind the Gap – Standing in prayer amid the roar

gappic

By: Jana Greene

One of my favorite places in the whole world are the mountains of North Carolina. They aren’t sharp and pointy like the Rockies, demanding awe of their majesty. Rather, they are vast and rolling and a thousand shades of blue and purple – those Blue Ridge Mountains. And some of our favorite places to visit are not at the tops of mountains, but in the valleys or ‘gaps.’ Surrounded on all sides by massive, ancient mountains, it always gives me pause.

Little towns named for the gaps they settled in always have the most dramatic names: Deep Gap. Windy Gap. Air Billows Gap. Smoky Gap. And my favorite, Roaring Gap.

It’s called “Roaring Gap” and not “Whispering Gap” because when the winds pick up between the mountains around it, it roars.

Today I was privileged to pray for a dear friend whom I love very much. She is in a difficult situation in which there will be no easy resolution. She is scared, of course. Her anxiety is palpable, and I don’t know what magic words to tell her that will make things instantly better.

She is encountering a ‘gap’ in her life, and she just needs someone to stand in it with her, to bridge her reality with the answered prayer on the other side.

I don’t know why so much scripture describes “peace in the valley” because in between mountains can be an anxious place. Unless, I suppose, you can rest in the gap with full faith that those mountains will move.

Many of my friends right now have fallen from ‘mountaintop’ experiences and are just hurting. They cannot see a way out of the roaring, all-encompassing gaps. I pray for them, but it doesn’t seem like enough to do.

I was raised Baptist and often heard people refer to intercessory prayer as “standing in the gap” for someone. This morning, as I prayed what I felt were insufficient prayers, God reminded me of what it means to “stand in the gap” in prayer for others by giving me a visual.

(He does that for me sometimes. It is literally as if the Almighty is saying, “Dang, girl. Do I have to DRAW YOU A PICTURE!?”

Yes, Papa. Sometimes you do.)

I saw myself in a mountainous gap, worried for a friend. But I wasn’t standing.

In the vision, I am sitting cross-legged in a beautiful mountain valley and imploring God to please help my sister in need. And then I look around me and try to find routes through the foliage. I wring my hands and close my eyes, and ask the Father again for resolution. Then I start wondering what the dimensions of this gap are. Hmmm. I wonder where God IS already?

Then I look behind me and there stands my sister-in-need. She is standing upright, but just barely. She is crying into her hands and trying to keep her balance, wavering on her feet.

She just needs me to stand with her. She needs me to stop trying to figure out how to fix her problem, and just to stand with her, help hold her up, and implore God on her behalf. She is too tired and weak to do it on her own.

I like to ‘fix’ people and situations, you see. Maybe you do too. Or maybe you feel your prayers are insufficient.

If you have a prayer language, use it. Think of your friend and her needs and her heart, and let the words flow, echo off the mountains they are facing.

(If you don’t have a prayer language, ask God to give you one. It’s not as spooky as it sounds and is incredibly intimate. He wants to fill you with those words you cannot even understand!)

If your sister is sad, hunker down and be sad with her. But prayerful always. God can fix what she is going through.

God doesn’t expect us to survey the gap…or question WHY is this gap here? Who left the gate open?

He just expects us to stand in it. He expects us to stand firm on the promise that He is still at the helm. However much we love our suffering friends, He loves them infinitely more.

Fill that gap with prayerful petition to Christ on behalf of your sister. One day, her struggle will be behind her like one of those endless and beautiful ancient ridges of blue mountains.

And just stand there, even in the roaring.

Lord God Almighty,

So many of my friends are hurting. Their spirits are wounded, and they are standing, but just barely. Help me to stand with them. Give me the words in this otherworldly language to plead their cases before you. Waste not ONE BIT of their struggle, but lend them comfort in the midst of it. Hold them, Abba. Douse them in your Love. Remind them that you are faithful.

In Jesus’ name.

AMEN.

Inspirational

As the Leaves Turn, Perfectly

 

Blue Ridge Mountains, October 2012

 

“Everyone must take time to sit and watch the leaves turn.” – Elizabeth Lawrence

By: Jana Greene

Last week, I watched the leaves turn with my husband.

Tired of waiting to be given the extra time to spend, we took it ourselves… stealing away to the mountains of North Carolina for a few days together.

We rented a tiny cabin, after choosing it on merit of standing far away from all other dwellings and people. When we arrived, the steps down the hill to the cabin were clear, and our little fortress surrounded by trees in every stage of turning – greens and yellows, but reds and oranges, too. Like a picture postcard.

He and I set up house in a hurry to sit on the back porch, which overlooked a short but steep mountain valley and wide creek at the bottom. All we could see from our balcony was leaves and water. All we could hear from our balcony was the rustling and rushing of leaves and water, and the occasional birdsong from the canopy above.

Decompressing from the stressors of being full-time grown-ups with concerns for jobs, kids and the political climate, we spent days reveling in the promise of cool autumn air instead. Together, my husband and I explored the creek and the hills nearby. For a few days, we fished and we feasted. We did nothing at all for great lengths of time on the back porch of our little cabin.

And we didn’t miss the grown-up world, because it didn’t occur to us to stress out about the jobs, kids or concerns for our country. It seems obvious enough – if you took the time to look at the trees – that God was still in control and didn’t need our help to work things out.

No internet. No television. No constant feedback and validation from the world-at-large. Political seasons are ugly and corrupt, but God’s seasons are perfect. Out there where creation is pure and heavenly, you would never know all “hell” was breaking loose.  I needed to be reminded that the harmony of nature is what the Creator intended for His world. It is the created that distort it.

By the time of our departure, the steps up the hill to our car were littered with color – crispy greens and yellows, and reds and oranges turned up at the corners. They crunched as we loaded up and readied ourselves for re-entry into the “real” world. As we drove away, we rolled down the windows to hear rustling leaves and rushing water, and the occasional birdsong from the canopy above.

God is not in a hurry for the leaves to fall, they break from the trees one at a time, floating to the ground in perfect order to that He can begin creating more abundance at just the right time.  And after stealing away to the reality He intended, I have a better sense of peace that He still has good and perfect plans for His children.

Even in this political climate (maybe especially during it) take the time to sit and watch the leaves turn wherever you are. It seems obvious enough – if you take the time to look at the trees – that God is still in control.