Last week I was frightened and anxious, bent down by all of the pressures of life. I entitled last week's entry "Prayers," and spent the week praying for direction and peace of mind. God answered my prayers through the most obvious way possible, a letter.
No, God and I are not regular correspondents, although I couldn't ever have a better pen pal. The letter I received yesterday was from me to myself, a letter I had written from the Fund for Theological Education's Leaders in Ministry Conference in New Orleans that I attended in July. I was so blown away by how much my prayers were answered through this letter, that I wanted to share it with you. I wrote:
I hope you will remember this conference in a positive light. You shouldn't remember the insecurities you felt, the need to excel personally. Or, maybe you should, but in order to fight against these things, not to hold on to them. You are so blessed. Never forget that. Because you are blessed, you have immense responsibility. You must use your talents and gifts for others. Sitting back because you're frightened, lazy, or lonely is not an option. No matter what you do you must live first for others. You must leave behind pride, ego, fear, and put yourself out there. Don't go for the easy paths. Forge ahead. Do things that are addressing real needs. Ask people what they want. Interact with people. Remember that you are responsible only for your half of the relationship and make sure your half is impeccably Christ-like.
Take time to be alone with God. Pray. Do yoga and meditation. Set aside at least an hour a day for those things. Get up early if you have to. Read the Bible. Make everything you do a prayer. Love generously-yourself and others.
"Give us grace, O God, to dare to do the deed
which we well know cries to be done.
Let us not hesitate because of ease, or the words of men's mouths, or our own lives.
Mighty causes are calling us-
the freeing of people, the training of children, the putting down of hate and murder and poverty, all these and more.
But they call with voices that mean work and sacrifices and death.
Mercifully grant us, O God, the spirit of Esther, that we say:
'I will go unto the King and if I perish, I perish'"
Sometimes, God answers our prayers through the mail. How miraculous.
Note: the prayer at the end of this letter was used for FTE's Leaders in Ministry Conference. It is a poem by W.E.B Dubois, entitled "Give us Grace."