More things I know for sure — like prayer, the Sabbath, and the hand of God. Obviously this was written (but not posted) before I had my Angry Conversations with God, but I still think that they are true nevertheless…
13. Prayer is the key
If it is ever to be said or believed that I am successful, prayer is the key to my success. The secret of a successful life is prayer. Whatever success is seen outwardly is based upon prayer, tears, fasting, more tears, and more prayers in secret. Prayer is my kryptonite; both personal prayer and intercessory prayer are my secret weapons. I’ve probably failed in a number of my religious duties, but when I meet Jesus and stand before my Lord and Savior someday, no one can say that I didn’t pray. I consult the Lord in everything, for everything, from “How best should I spend this day? Show me what I need to do today. Help make the day be productive,” to “help me find a good hair stylist for my hair” to “what should I wear today?” to “what should I have for breakfast?” to “what is the purpose for my life? Why I am here?” to even more pressing concerns in life. I don’t only ask him the big questions but the small questions too. I involve Jesus at every step. Sometimes all I can say is “Help Lord.” But He hears that too. I’ve seen God lead in both the significant and seemingly insignificant. And often, the things I think are insignificant end up being significant (e.g. “help me find somewhere to sit” and I make a new friend or find an encouraging book that I need to read).
I’ve finally realized that the answer to “What to do when you don’t know what to do?” is “Pray.” Pray always, pray anyways. Prayer, at the very least, helps me distress. It allows me to cast my cares on Someone else so I don’t have to worry. It helps me sort my thoughts. It humbles me. It causes me to hear and assess my own motives and helps me tune into the voice of God.
It’s never too late to pray. It’s never too early to pray either. My life is a testimony to the fact that God answers prayer. I’d be a hypocrite to say otherwise.
I’ve learnt that prayer ends up being less about getting something from God and more about Him opening your eyes to his answer which, chances are, is already in front of you. It’s amazing how your prayers can go from begging to quiet acceptance of your lot and His Lordship in your life, and from pleading for supplication to praying in submission.
It’s less about Him hearing you and more about you hearing Him.
It’s less about your will being done on earth and more about God’s will being done on earth as it is in heaven.
14. Keep the Sabbath
Like tithing, the Sabbath is a weekly reminder of who’s Boss. I spend the whole week creating things or leading people. Sabbath reminds me that I am creation. It reminds me of who I am in relationship to the Creator.
Sometimes it’s tempting to think “There’s so much to do…” but Sabbath reminds me that God is the Author of time. It’s a time of spiritual refreshment and recommitment to truths and principles to which I have committed myself. It allows me to spend the day reconnecting with my church family and encouraging one another. I can study my Bible without feeling guilty that I ought to be doing something else or that my studying detracts from something else I should be doing. I can sleep. I eat good food. I get to spend more time with my family. It is permission for me to rest. Overachievers often need permission to pause, and permission not just from anyone but often from an authority figure. God gives me permission to rest in Him, and this permission is found in His Word.
The Sabbath is God’s gift to me. It hurts me and it hurts Him when it goes unappreciated. It is to my own detriment if I do not keep it. Anytime I have broken the Sabbath I have dearly regretted it. I have less energy or gas for the week. And I always later find out later it was unnecessary and I would have been better off if I had kept the Sabbath. I cheat myself. Time with God is always time well spent. Sometimes I feel that I should be studying and I can’t afford to take 24 hours off. Sabbath reminds me that I don’t always have to be working to be successful. Sabbath reminds me that I’m not in control and that He is in control. It reminds me that I can still take a day off and get to where I need to be and achieve what I need to achieve because it doesn’t all depend on me – it depends on Him. Sometimes I am tempted to say that I can’t afford to keep the Sabbath. I’ve learnt that I can’t afford not to.
I remember asking a friend whether or not I should take a part-time teaching position I was offered. I would work on Sunday. We were both in law school. She advised that I not do it. “You already don’t work all day Saturday and then you have to work Sunday – when are you going to get your school work done?” I thought it interesting, because I never saw keeping the Sabbath in that light. She viewed my keeping of the Sabbath as a loss of time when I always saw it as a gain. I always saw keeping the Sabbath as my edge, my advantage and to my benefit.
That seems to be how God works. Give Him your time and He gives you even more. Give Him your life and He gives it back to you. Tithe (give away “your” money) and you get more in return. Keep the Sabbath (“lose time”) and you end up gaining time and He causes you to ride among the high places (Isaiah 58). Whenever you undergo what seems to be a detriment to you out of obedience to God, He tends to turn it around and give you more than what you gave up. You gain by giving. He gives you the opposite of that which can reasonably be expected. He turns things on their head. The disadvantage becomes an advantage. Put aside your dreams and chase after God, and you get what you were asking for. Seek ye first the kingdom, and all of these things will be added (Matt 6:33). “Those who search for heaven get earth thrown in; those who aim for earth get neither.” (C.S. Lewis).
15. Read your Bible.
Know the Word for yourself. Know your Bible so that you can rightly divide truth and discern truth from error and won’t be easily led astray. Know your Bible so that you can encourage yourself. Know your Bible so that in a world with shifting morals and various view points, you have a firm foundation on which to stand. I find that most arguments against God, Christians or religion in general are derivative of erroneous interpretations of scripture and Bible verses that have been lifted from their historical, scriptural, spiritual and relational context.
16. There is a God
There is a God in heaven and He’s looking out for you/protecting you. Over the years, especially as a young single women, I’ve definitely found myself in some precarious situations. I’m just so glad that God has protected me. There are too many stories and accounts of miraculous encounters that tell me that God is real. When I look at my life, and then when I hear of the stories of the lives of others or I read the testimonies of people who have long since passed, I am convinced that there is Someone, somewhere, who cares for me, cares for others and intervenes in the lives of people. There has been too many testimonies, too many praise reports, too many instances of arrangement, orchestration and design for me to conclude anything but there being an intelligent Higher Power and Supreme Being. Aristotle called Him the “prime mover” or the “unmoved mover.” Because I was raised in a Christian home, I just call Him God. So when I talk about a Higher Power or God, I mean God in the Judeo-Christian sense.
I’ve heard too many testimonies, read too many biographies and autobiographies, poured over too many stories from missionaries, and seen too many strange yet marvelous things in my life and the lives of others to come to any other conclusion than the fact that there is a God. Some may call it luck and not a miracle, coincidence and not providence, chance and not a blessing or a godsend. I’d be inclined to believe the same, were the “luck” I have experienced more random. When “luck” starts to exhibit order, synchronicity, timeliness, foresight, wisdom, intelligence and care, I start to think that it is more than just mere luck or hard work but rather that God is at work.
17. God has the final say.
When everyone says no, God can still say yes.
I remember when I was looking for a summer position after 3L and I decided to go through the OCI (on campus interview) recruitment process. Those familiar with the legal profession will know that in Canada and the United States there is recruitment process, governed by law societies, whereby law firms and organizations court students to recruit them and hire them for summer, articling, or associate positions. The first stage is to be selected for an interview on-campus, and if you are successful in this first stage, you are often invited to a more intimate interview at the firm itself in the form of a formal interview or a dinner interview and/or various cocktails to meet the firm’s lawyers. If successful at this stage, then you may be offered a position.
Only two organizations in the public interest were taking part in on-campus interviews. Because I have always been interested in social justice and the public service, I only applied to these two organizations, one of them being Legal Aid Ontario. I was elated when I was selected for both an on-campus interview and an interview at their headquarters in Toronto.
Part of the recruitment process is a law society governed “Call Back Day.” This is the day designated by the law society during which law firms can call the students in whom they are interested to extend offers of employment (there have been abuses of this process in the past, with employers trying to make offers to students before any other firm in order to get the best students, or straight up pressuring students, hence the heavy regulation). There was a specified time at which firms could call you, beginning at 5 pm on Call Back Day.
I sat beside my telephone, eagerly awaiting a phone call. My phone rang at 5 pm on the dot.
“Hello?” the person on the other end said. “Can I speak to Marcia [for the sake of anonymity, names have been changed].”
Marcia was my classmate, but I wasn’t Marcia. I told the caller. “Oops. Sorry about that; wrong number.”
Then and there I knew Marcia had gotten a job, but I hadn’t. I continued to wait beside my phone. I waited, and waited, and waited. I had an evening class to attend that started at 6 pm. I got ready for my glass as the realization that I had not been hired slowly dawned on me.
I was also the co-president of the Christian Law Students’ Association at McGill at that time. Nardia, my co-president, and I were busy organizing Christian Legal Fellowship’s national student conference for law students across Canada. It would be the first time that the conference would be held in Quebec, and it would be an important statement to the McGill Faculty of Law and to Quebec, which is known as a hard-to-reach mission field due to rampant secularism.
Christian Legal Fellowship is a national non-profit organization uniting Christian lawyers and law students across Canada. Since we organized the conference in partnership with them, their chaplain tried to contact me to pray with me for the success of the conference. I was so busy that I always seemed to miss his calls.
The conference took place in February 2013 and by all accounts, people were blessed and God was glorified. We had students from Alberta all the way to New Brunswick attend. Needless to say, because spent all of my time studying and organizing this conference, I hadn’t dedicated any time to my summer job search, and the semester was ending in a month.
Finally CLF’s chaplain got in touch with me sometime in mid-March. He told me that he was told that the conference was an absolute success (he wasn’t there because of a previous engagement). He asked if He could pray for me and asked if I had any prayer requests. I said that I still needed a summer job. He prayed and I thanked him.
The next day, I got an e-mail from the Human Resources department of Legal Aid Ontario asking me if I was still interested in working with them that summer. So, the summer of 2013, I ended up working with Legal Aid Ontario.
I’ve learned that when you do God’s work, He’ll take care of your needs. The experience always reminds me that God can open a door that has previously been shut and He can still say yes when everyone else has said no.