by Darlene Franklin, author of The 12-Month Guide to Better Prayer for Women.
How does anyone, whether someone in the highly stressful position of pastor or in the continuing drama of a nursing home, rest in God when drama breaks out?
By slaying our dragons, five minutes at a time, that’s how.
I learned about dragon-slaying in the daily battle of raising a daughter diagnosed with borderline personality disorder (BPD). The instability in moods, relationships and self-image that characterize BDP made living with her difficult. It was like walking on eggshells, the title of several excellent resources for people who work closely with the afflicted.
Few days during her short life remained drama-free. Hours were easier to come by. If I couldn’t have sixty minutes, I’d settle for five. Since inevitable disappointment would be the end result if I waited for a perfect day, I relished the minutes which, when put together, shone a bright spotlight of God’s love.
My cousin, only six weeks younger than I am, testified of a similar experience when her mother died and her marriage ended less than a month apart. She was only thirty-one.
She summarized it as “a time of waiting and toughing it out, sometimes five minutes at a time.” She asked God to restore her marriage. Although that didn’t happen, the testing built a solid faith in the God-who-stayed-with-her.
We had both discovered that resting in God didn’t mean the absence of difficulties. I struggled with my reality, fighting it, in fact. I still do, in the nursing home. Both Jan and I tried to tell God how to fix the problem. Perhaps you do the same.
What changed was we trusted God more than ever. We talked to Him about we wanted, because only He could bring about that miracle. In the process, we learned something else. We rested in God because He never deserted us.
Intellectually, few of us have a problem with that statement, but pastors and church members need experience to lend weight to head knowledge. Church music drummed the truth into my heart. When I couldn’t sing for tears, I would sit in the church balcony, mouthing the words of praise songs. Before and since, I tune to Christian music when I need an instant fix of praise.
In that holy, wordless place, God held me when I couldn’t breathe. People sometimes dismiss the Footprints in the Sand poem as sentimental, but it’s popular because it’s so true. The Lord God doesn’t disappear when troubles come, but carries us instead. We often don’t see it except in rearview mirrors.
God’s constant, loving presence carried me through the years following my divorce, my son’s teenage troubles, my daughter’s lifelong troubles, the double whammy of my mother and daughter’s deaths, and more recently, my failing health.
My cousin leaned on the lessons she learned during her divorce when her teenage son nearly died in a traffic accident. After three days of continuous bad reports, she told the Lord that He could have Macon. She also thanked God by faith. She said she “drew a ‘line in the sand.’ Did I truly trust God?” Giving her child to Jesus was the hardest prayer she ever prayed, and she thought she might die as well.
She returned to the ICU late that same night, expecting nothing. A nurse looked at me and tilted her head as if she was puzzled. “He seems to be turning a corner.” Macon clung to life. Later she learned at that very hour a circle of nurses was holding hands and praying for him.
Late the next morning, her mother-in-law came. “He’s better, isn’t he? I dreamed he would be healed.”
Friends and family continued to visit, all bringing a message of hope. Macon lived.
Her peace grew the lesson she had learned during her divorce She rested it in God by toughing it out, sometimes five minutes at a time.
Life in a nursing home involves a lot of waiting, and I hate it. Lately God’s given tons to write. I have plenty of time … if I felt better. If I didn’t need an aide to move my meal tray so I can set up my computer. To wait for help when I’m tired and ready for bed, and so on.
Of course, help comes eventually, but I still have to wait. Perhaps it’s time to make use of a kitchen timer. When I’m counting the grains of sand in the hour glass, it runs in a continuous supply in heaven.
Waiting, and dealing with interrupted plans, extends far beyond the nursing home. I’m learning to say, when I pull the call light in the morning, “Just five minutes.” If no one has responded thirty minutes later, I remind myself that God’s measuring cup is as full as ever.
As the noon hour approaches, I think, “Still five more minutes?” By the time we reach the mid-afternoon lull, I tell myself, “it’s only five minutes.” When I’m ready for sleep, I pray, “You’ll keep me for five minutes.”
God gets me through the day, five minutes at a time.
Darlene Franklin, contributing author to The 12-Month Guide to Better Prayer for Women (TBR 2/1/18), essays on prayer from the greats such as Andrew Murray, Charles Spurgeon and E.M. Bounds, with prayer prompts for each month.