The other day my son texted me after one of his late-afternoon college classes:
Power went out at home. How do I reconnect Netflix on the TV?
Wrapping up at work now. Will fix it when I get home. 20 minutes.
Traffic was light and I got home quickly. My wife was running errands and wasn't home yet but my son's car was in its normal spot. As I walked into the house, however, things seemed anything but normal.
The shades were still drawn and the house was dark. School papers were scattered all over the kitchen. A cup, rolling slightly on its side, was empty on the counter; its contents dripping onto the tile floor in a syncopated rhythm to the ticking of the kitchen clock. The appliances in the kitchen mindlessly flashed their repetitive message: 12:42... 12:42... 12:42.
Tick... drip-blink. Tick-blink... drip. Blink-tick... drip.
I called out to my son, “Nathan! Where are you?”
Concerned, I called out for my daughter.
Something wasn't right.
I dropped my bags and headed upstairs. I called out to the kids again: no response. Everything upstairs seemed normal except for the clocks demanding attention with their monotonous 12:42 message... and no kids. What happened during my 20 minute drive home?!
I began searching room by room... and found my son lying on the floor of his bedroom.
Asleep with his ear buds in; music still playing.
I breathed a sigh of relief and woke him up. It turns out the cat had scattered his papers on the island after knocking over the cup (the paw-print evidence found later was overwhelming and the defendant was found guilty as charged). My daughter had a late band practice that afternoon and wasn't home yet.
As a parent, I tend to worry about my kids and my overactive imagination doesn't help. My mom tells me that she still worries about me even though I am over forty. The great Christian orator Charles Spurgeon once said, "It is the nature of children to imitate their parents." Apparently that applies to worrying as well.
When something is amiss, I feel a need to immediately connect with my wife and kids: a call, a text message, or a quick shout upstairs... whatever it takes. Apparently our cat feels the same way. As soon as he comes in through his pet door, the little fur ball immediately begins yowling to connect with the family and let everyone know he is home and safe.
My point is this: when things are out of whack in life, I want to reach out and connect with my loved ones. Knowing they are safe and sound provides a measure of comfort and stability in the midst of whatever situation arises.
I realized recently that there was one person who I was not connecting with as quickly or as often as everyone else: G-d. In my defense, I must say that I don't have G-d's cell number so texting and phone calls are not an option. Maybe I should just give Him a quick shout "upstairs"?
Yeah, yeah... I know. G-d is everywhere, right? King David makes that plain:
Here's the thing: although I know He is present everywhere I don't always feel it. Instead of sensing that something is out of whack and crying out to G-d "where are You? I need your help and comfort!", I tend to let it go and try to handle it on my own. Life is busy, you know? I'm responsible for taking care of my wife, my kids, and my job. I figure G-d's got everything under control and doesn't need me interrupting, right?
Wrong! That's not the point.
Messiah tells us, "I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing." (John 15:5)
Paul says that in Christ "we live and move and have our being" (Acts 17:28) and that we are "created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which G-d prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them" (Ephesians 2:10).
Regardless of how I feel... regardless of what I feel... only G-d knows what He has created me to do and be today.
I'm responsible for my wife. G-d knows what He created me to do and be for my wife today.
I'm responsible for my kids. G-d knows what He created me to do and be for my kids today.
I'm responsible for my job. G-d knows what He... You get the point.
So maybe we should be in the regular habit of going before our Creator and "checking in", so to speak. During the worst of times, we almost have to cry out to Him in our distress. But what about the good times and the average times? What about those "dry spells" where things aren't that great but they aren't particularly bad... and you just don't feel near to the Lord? I believe those are the most important times to be in regular prayer and drawing near to G-d: prayer draws us away from sin that may lead to the "bad times" and can propel us towards those precious "mountain peak" moments with Him. Unfortunately, absent a particular need or problem, most people find it difficult to pray on a regular basis.
I mean, really... it's not like I'm keeping G-d up to date on recent events. He already knows everything! It's not like I have to explain anything to Him. He's already got it figured out.
When things aren't particularly good or bad in my life, why should I pray? To glorify G-d.
I used to struggle with prayer during the "dry spells". I would pray something like, "Dear Lord. Thank you for this day. Thank you for my wife. Thank you for my kids. Thank you for my job. Thank you for... uhm... everything. Amen."
While having a thankful heart is good, I realize that I am not the best at coming up with words for glorifying and praising G-d but I know who is. G-d! The Psalms are recorded for us because they are G-d's inspired words of praise. The Psalms set my mind right and help me glorify G-d at the same time.
I was amazed at what happened when I prayed the Psalms. No matter what the day, no matter what the circumstances, I had a minute of peace and joy because I was reminded of Who He is.
Take five minutes. Find a quiet place. Pick a Psalm. Read it aloud.
Connect with the One you love.
It's what you were created to do.