I’ve long been a wrestler of my faith. I haven’t had much success following “supposed to’s.” Christian clichés don’t speak to me. I. Have. To. Know. More than that. Maybe this is why I survived the 1980s as a woman in ministry. It never occurred to me that I wasn’t “supposed to” do what God called me to do. I just did it wrestling all the way.
This wrestling mindset of mine has been tweaked recently. After yet again being overwhelmed with fear over one of my sons, I was lovingly—and firmly—challenged by a lovely lady in my life that God is big enough to fix this. That this should be my prayer. It has become my prayer–instead of praying for him and then growing overwhelmed with fear of what might happen. This is such a common thought process in my prayer life which always leads to prayers of “Oh God…oh God…oh God…” and nothing else because fear has crippled me and I move to Overwhelmed Land. So I started to pray simply, “God, you are big enough to do what you need to do.” It has almost become like a mantra so I don’t let my mind wander to Overwhelmed Land.
At first this advice came across as over-spiritual. Another Christian cliché. Certainly, I know God is big enough. Duh. But then the wrestler me started to really process this truth.
God is big enough to heal the shame in my son.
What good am I doing in the situation by living in Overwhelmed Land?
What do I really think I can possibly do to reach him?
The wrestler me continued to process. I was reminded of a true story of one of my other sons. From Overwhelmed Land I fretted about him being a godly father to his household. As my grandson turned 5, I fretted that he wasn’t in church yet. These are the years he needs to learn the Bible stories so he can have a foundation during the future more turbulent years. I fretted in prayer. I nagged in conversation (while trying not to nag). Then one random day I received a call from Jamon. He was getting his haircut at the barbershop and the man next to him started a conversation and told him over and over again that he needs to get to church. Jamon was convinced this was a direct message from God. He said he heard this message loud and clear and that he was going to start attending church with him and his kids. He also said that I was not to nag him about this ever—he was going to do this, he heard God and didn’t need to hear me. Ouch. Truth. I promised him I would do what he asked. And I have.
Lo and behold, he is now a regular part of a local church and my grandson is beloved (of course he is, he is special) in a children’s program learning all those Bible stories. Did anything I did in Overwhelmed Land lead to this? Not really, except my persistent prayers which I know were heard. God was big enough to use some guy at a barbershop to get the message across.
Since praying my new prayer, God has also shown Himself to be big enough for my worrisome son. God did a miracle in his life. A true miracle. Not that my husband or I know about it from him. He hasn’t bothered to share it with us. One of the beloved people from my church whom have chosen to “keep trying to love life even when it hurts our feelings” called to let us know. Our son still is not talking to us but God is big enough to use others to walk with him through the healing of shame.
That is two out of four of our “sons.” I have one more story to make it three out of four. We have one son serving hard time. He has spent the first 13 years of his sentence in a supermax prison. Jail is nothing like prison. Prison is nothing like a supermax. Through some of his decisions and because “the system” is stacked against an offender making the leap from supermax to correctional institution, this has been a very hard road for Kenneth. Oh the stories.
Over a year ago, Kenneth started to really listen to my talks on bravery. He realized how he was numbing himself (which in a supermax could get confused with protecting yourself for survival) and shutting life down. He made the decision—a decision—to live in hope again. That is a brave decision in his situation. That decision seemed to open a door to a pod change with likeminded offenders who also saw hope in their lives. This fed Kenneth’s hope to grow even more.
Every February is the annual review. Several times Kenneth has earned his transfer but there has been an “override” placed on it and he would yet again been stuck in “hell on earth.” With the review points coming in so well (again!) we held our breath that he would get a transfer.
Lo and behold, he did!! And it wasn’t to one of the correctional institutions we’ve been praying for all these years. I didn’t know a brand new facility opened up 5.5 hours away. Neither did Kenneth. Kenneth is doing his time in this new environment that is way different than a supermax (for more about why, ask me offline) with programs and jobs—things that create hope in offenders. God is big enough to send Kenneth to the right prison—one I never even prayed for. Did anything I did in Overwhelmed Land lead to this? Not really, except my persistent prayers which I know were heard.
The wrestler me is astounded by all this. God is big enough. God doesn’t always need me to do something. As I often teach, He does use the whole universe to catch our attention. This has changed my prayer life. The choice to love and raise these sons has long ago changed the trajectory of my life. Now they are changing me.
It may be a duh to you. To wrestler me, its “mind-blown.”