I was reading a page in A Young Woman's Call to Prayer yesterday morning as I did the prayer part of my devotions.
I had already read a chapter in my Bible, and even though I'd prayed beforehand, I just wasn't "feeling" anything - you know that goosebumpy chill that runs through you when God does something absolutely amazing? Well, it wasn't coming fast enough for my American attention span (lol). I almost quit my reading halfway through, but I pushed through it. I was growing discouraged, though - why wasn't God revealing anything to me (never mind the fact that I hadn't spent any serious amount of time with Him in months; I just wanted my "God fix" smh)?
As I was reading Elizabeth George's book, picking up where I left off, I instantly became encouraged. She was referencing different passages in which God's people prayed in different postures (these are all from the book, btdubs):
Falling on their faces (Numbers 16:22)
Standing (I Samuel 1:12-14)
Kneeling with hands spread (I Kings 8:54)
Fasting and laid on the ground (II Samuel 12:16)
I kept reading down the list until my eyes fell on an unfamiliar passage: Ezra 10:1. My eyebrows furrowed furiously. Ezra? Was that a typo? Where is that located? Major or minor prophet? Before or after Psalms? Is that even a legitimate book?! Did the Protestant church fathers add it as part of the canon? All these questions instantly ran through my head. I'm a PK (preacher's/pastor's kid), and we can be somewhat *cough*arrogant*cough* when it comes to Biblical facts, and in my little self-righteous mind, I decided at that moment that Elizabeth George was wrong - there was no Ezra! Unless I was going crazy and somebody cut the book out from my copy of God's Word (yes, Mrs. George is the crazy one whilst I have these perfectly sane thoughts running through my head...). I went to the Table of Contents to double check, and voila! Ezra magically appeared - before Psalms, as it turns out. I stood greatly humbled and corrected.
So, I flipped to the 10th chapter of this seemingly obscure book and found the first verse. Now, I've listened to enough Adventures in Odyssey episodes to know that you're not just supposed to read the verse listed; you read the one right before and the one directly after so that you aren't taking the verse completely out of context. The verse right before 10:1 was a man talking about how righteous the Lord was, and 10:1 itself was about how Ezra prayed (weeping and bowing down before the house of God). It was the verse right after it that caught my attention. It begins:
2 And Shechaniah the son of Jehiel, one of the sons of Elam, spoke up and said to Ezra, "We have trespassed against our God, and have taken pagan wives from the peoples of the land; yet now there is hope in Israel in spite of this. 3 Now therefore, let us make a covenant with our God to put away all these wives and those who have been born to them, according to the advice of my master and of those who tremble at the commandment of our God; and let it be done according to the law. 4 Arise, for this matter is your responsibility. We also are with you. Be of good courage, and do it."
(Ezra 10:2-4, New King James Version)
It hit me like nothing ever has before. To think that I came to this realization simply by keeping a verse in context in an historical book (Paul was right - all Scripture is useful for teaching)! I nearly wept. The parts I put in bold stood out to me especially. This is how I rewrote that first phrase on the opposite page to apply to me (a technique I learned doing a Beth Moore study):
"I have trespassed against my God, and turned away from Him and His ways; yet now there is hope in spite of all this."
Oh, how my heart and soul ached to see and hear those words. There is hope. There is hope! For ME. After all I had done, said and thought, there was still hope. After dreading fellowship with other believers, dropping out of the children's ministry, going deeper into depression, being lazy, ignoring God, treating my family like crap - there was still hope! Even after doubting my faith - there. was. still. hope. I'm taking it to heart, believing, speaking it over my life, and claiming it.
"...let us make a covenant with our God to put away all these..."
For myself, I took this to mean that I am making a covenant with my God to put those sins, heartaches, lies...everything behind me. I am rededicating my life to Christ.
Arise, for this matter is your responsibility. We also are with you. Be of good courage, and do it."
It is my responsibility to nurture my relationship with Christ! No excuses - it's up to me to spend time with Him, talk with Him, and include Him in my daily decisions and everyday life. The "we are also with you" I interpreted to be the loving family and friends around me. They are there praying, encouraging, rebuking, uplifting, correcting, and guiding me - and cheering me on all the way, even as I must do for them. That last little sentence is like an energy boost. I have to have the guts, and just go out there and DO it already.
God is just amazing. He never fails to fulfill His promises. I asked to see new truths that I hadn't seen before, and He faithfully revealed them to me. It was confirmation that I'm back on the right path. And even if I don't constantly stay on that spiritual high that I so often seek, I will know that God and my brothers and sisters in Christ are there to help me keep on keeping on.