Running Away

I ran away from home today. (I do this now and again. I always return.) I am retired, but lately it seems that other people have been scheduling my time for me. This appointment, that social function… It seems to never end. It’s been weeks since I’ve had an entire day with which to do as I please. I was ready to take advantage of the time.

As I got ready to leave the house, I kept finding things that needed to be done. I didn’t want to forget, but I also didn’t want to take the time to write them down, so I started doing each task as I thought of it. I finally told myself, “Gee. If I don’t run away, I’ll never get there.” I shrugged off the guilt trip about the little tasks that I was leaving undone. It was time to leave.

I gathered up my writing tools and headed for my favorite coffee shop. After buying my usual mocha I looked for an empty table. What luck! I scored a seat by the sunny window; a rare find.

My personal rule is that I may and must write until the coffee’s gone. Writing helps me think through things. As I sat in the sun and wrote, I realized the sources of my recent stress: worries about this and that, daily busyness, the current news cycle, Donald Trump. The words flowed from pen to paper. I articulated prayers. The stress began to melt.

I’ve come to think of my running away days as a type of mini-retreat. Going to a neutral quiet spot, away from everyday life, allows me to sort out my thoughts and refresh my mind. (Yes, I know a coffee shop isn’t the quietest place; but there’s a certain anonymity that lets me be quiet within.)

I should run away more often.

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Praying for the World

Donald Trump has the nuclear codes. Kim Jong Un has been launching test missiles. Neither man seems even remotely mentally stable.

I am old enough to remember the shadow of the Cold War. I was very young, so I did not understand; yet vivid memories of that time remain.

When a plane flew by overhead, I ducked.

I played school with the older girl next door. She pulled out a map of the world. The “lesson” was about Russia’s threat to bomb Moscow, Idaho, because Moscow stole the name of their city.

Such is the way children play out what they overhear adults say in hushed conversations, thinking the children won’t hear.

Now that I am old enough to understand, it’s much scarier this time.

I cannot begin to envision the annihilation of a nuclear war. One need only look back a few decades, though, to see the aftermath of only two bombs–the ones dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

So I am saying extra prayers these days for the world–for its safety, for its preservation, for the sanity of its leaders, for peace.

Lord, help us.

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Photo: public domain

…about Praying for Enemies

Before becoming a Christian in 1979, I read the Bible. All of it. I wanted to know what I was signing onto when I joined the church. Shortly after that, during the Iran Hostage Crisis, I prayed for the Ayatollah Khomeini to know Jesus. I was quickly and soundly chastised by another church member.

Huh? Isn’t that what I was supposed to do? Having read in the Bible that we are to pray for our enemies (Matthew 5:43-48), I was fairly certain I was doing the right thing. Jesus himself set the example while on the Cross, praying, “Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing.” (Luke 23:34a)

Still, the disapproval of the fellow church member stung me to the core. Was I somehow wrong? Had Jesus mentioned an exception that I had missed in my initial reading of the Scriptures? Today, after years of study and prayer, I remain convinced that I was right to pray for the Ayatollah.

I was reminded of that long-ago incident Sunday when someone in church requested prayers for our enemies; in her next breath she mentioned President Trump. I cannot pretend to have read her mind. Was the implication that Trump is an enemy intentional, or merely coincidence?

It is only fair that I tell you I did not support Trump for election. I do not believe he is doing a good job as President. I believe his behavior is erratic, reckless, and dangerous. I do not like him.

Enemy or not, regardless of political views, the President needs and deserves the prayers of anyone who believes in prayer. Jesus said so.

That brings me to my dilemma.

I know I should pray for Trump, but so far my prayers have been half-hearted. I don’t see him changing his behavior any time soon. I realize I am praying for a miracle. Am I setting myself up for God to say, “No.”? How can I word my prayer so I get the answer I want? Is my faith so small that I cannot pray for a miracle?

But, wait. Jesus didn’t say to pray only if I feel like it. He didn’t say to pray only if I think my prayers will yield the answers I want.┬áHe simply said to pray.

Funny, isn’t it, how one prayer leads to another? In order to pray for the President, I need to pray for a softening of my stubborn attitude. I need to pray for obedience and persistence in prayer. I need to pray for God’s patience with me.

Most importantly, I need to pray for a strengthening of faith that allows me to trust God to answer prayers the way He knows they need to be answered. He has a greater plan than you or I can imagine.

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Photo: public domain