Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Praying with Kings of Leon

In June I, in essence, emerged from 2 of the darkest years of my life. Those couple of years were spent in self-examination and intense struggle with what I found. I've never known such loneliness, pain, or distance from God. One of the worst things I discovered is that my ability to share myself--my true self--with others is all but nonexistent. This was gas for the fire of my self-exile. I have a life filled with the most wonderful family imaginable, caring friends, compassionate colleagues, and work centered on communing with the Living God and ordering the community of his people. Yet I was completely alone, cold, and blind.

In September 2008 I found a voice for my much-needed prayer. I was watching Saturday Night Live when Kings of Leon, a band I had only known from the pages of Rolling Stone magazine, began playing "Use Somebody." At first I just liked how they sounded like early U2 and were sort of raw and exposed. Then came the first line: "I've been roaming around always looking down at all I see. / Painted faces fill the places I can't reach. / You know that I could use somebody...someone like you."

That was it. God was a lover who seemed to be utterly ignoring me. And my true life, hidden in God, was as far away as he was. On it went: "Off in the night while you live it up I'm off to sleep / waging wars to shape the poet and the beat. / I hope it's gonna make you notice... / someone like me."

Over the next months I clung to this song like a security blanket. "You know that I could use somebody" was my constant plea to God to throw me a line before the dark waters engulfed me for good. And yes, it was that bad. But the song carried me along until the sun began to shine, and the waters stilled. Now the song is getting a lot of radio-play, but my heart doesn't ache so much when I hear it. Instead I just love how tight the bass and drums are in the second section. I'm thankful to have had Kings of Leon as prayer partners.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Manna-Eating Pelicans!

While we technically have a few more weeks until summer ends, I can sense the turning of another page. It has been a wonderful summer for my family and me—busy, but enjoyable. Despite the busyness, I got to have some great summery moments.

One such moment occurred when we were at the beach. Each morning I would let my wife and daughter sleep in while I slipped out early for my quiet time. I’d walk down to the pier and sit out over the water, reading my devotion book and Bible and prayerfully enjoying the differences between the Pacific Ocean and central Texas.

The first morning, I watched huge pelicans circle the water then dive straight down and SPLASH!...breakfast. As I sat there in the morning quiet, I heard someone sneeze. It sounded like they were under the pier. I looked down into the water and there was a seal. Of course I said, “God bless you.” Over time, I looked out to see the seal’s family, paddling and rolling around, playing and having their breakfast.

My devotional reading that first morning was the story from Exodus 16 about God providing manna for his people. Each day every family gathered as much as they needed for that day. It melted away with the sun’s heat and they were forbidden from gathering for the next day, with the exception of the Sabbath. They were simply to trust that God would take care of them from one day to the next.

As I read this, I looked out on the pelicans and seals—and now there were 4 dolphins rising and diving not 100 yards out. I reveled in God’s care for his creatures. These sea creatures didn’t worry about tomorrow. They simply came out to see what the Lord had for them today. I could feel God smiling at his creation. I could also feel Jesus saying, “If the Father cares so much for these, will he not much more care for you?” Today, I'm determined to dive in…SPLASH!

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"There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you." ~ Maya Angelou, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings About the Boo...