There are times in our lives when God calls us to Himself and the draw of that call permeates every fiber of our being. Our souls dance with joy and our hearts race in anticipation of the next encounter with our God. These beautiful consolations are incredible gifts of grace.
There are other times when the call is as dry as a desert wind beating against our faces. Were it not for the strength of faith, our souls would wither and die from the loneliness in these instances. For the man, this time, it is the dry desert of prayer that has drawn him to God. His soul longs for that simple nod from his King and Lord.
He found them in a wilderness, a wasteland of howling desert. He shielded them, cared for them, guarded them as the apple of his eye (Dt 32:10).
Outside, the day is bright as the autumn breeze whistles past the doors of the chapel. Inside the simple quiet of the chapel itself, a man reflects on the enormity of God and the many blessings for which he is thankful, while the world moves around him unnoticed. He knows in his heart the depth and infinity of his Creator’s love for him, yet the aridity of his prayers weighs down upon his shoulders as if a great angel is pressing him to kneel in humility. Slowly, he prays and reflects on the greatest prayer:
Our Father, Who art in heaven…
"Father, are You here near me? Touch my soul as it walks through the dusty, dark hall. I know You are here, Lord. I know You hear me. Do you? Yes, I know You do. Will You answer my call?"
Hallowed be Thy Name…
"Your Name, 'I Am;' all-encompassing, so simple, yet so profound. 'I Am' what?"
"I am love, I am all, I am all you need."
And the man’s heart whispers trust. Or, he wonders, is it God whispering in his ear as He had done so often in the past? The man’s prayer says move along.
Thy kingdom come…
In his soul, the man asks, “When? Your kingdom, Lord? Will it be mine? Will I share in Your everlasting joy?”
The answer once again is trust.
Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven…
“Whose will, Lord? Yours? How do I know Your will? You are my Father and my father’s Father. I am subject to You. Make me a man of Your will.”
A warm breeze from the air vent moves the man’s hair from his brow in a small and yet perceptible gust. He hears again the word trust and this time the word hope as well.
He also hears, “You must always carry hope with you.”
Give us this day our daily bread…
“All I have is Yours, Father. Do with it as You will.”
The man knows that he is blessed way beyond what he deserves. His life, his family and all that he has, he has long ago given to God. He must trust again, knowing that God will provide. His heart wavers, though, as it often does and the following thoughts come into his mind: Will He provide? How do I know? Again, the man feels as if a pair of hands are pressed onto his shoulders and in his heart, he hears the following:
“Trust. Have hope, find joy in the world. I am here.”
The room slowly begins to warm with the radiance of the love of God.
Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us…
The weight of his own sins creates an unbearable weight on the man’s soul. How can he find the strength to forgive himself? The man’s heartbeat quickens as he knows the answer. Pressed into the palm of his hand, the answer is found in the greatest act of forgiveness ever witnessed on the face of this earth: the Cross. Christ has forgiven him and in his repentance, the man must move forward on the path assigned to him by divine providence. Trust.
Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the Evil One.
Thanksgiving rises from the deep recesses of his heart as the man prays from the lonely darkness of his own personal desert. God has indeed delivered him from the Evil One. There is no denying his lost past. The gift of faith burns with great brightness as it radiates outward from him in the chapel. The room continues to warm around him as if he was reclining next to a freshly lit fireplace. The warmth of the Almighty Father’s love refreshes the man’s soul.
God has answered his request for a nod in his direction. However brief it may be, the man can now welcome the dark desert prayer. Deep and foreboding as it may be, there is much to be thankful for as the world revolves around him unnoticed. God is good.
Come, let us sing joyfully to the Lord; cry out to the rock of our salvation. Let us come before Him with a song of praise, joyfully sing out our psalms (Ps 95:1-2).
God is good,
JMJ, pray for us,