morning prayer

It was snowy and very cold on the morning after we arrived at the farm, the morning we were to present the retreat idea to the people at Plow Creek. I woke up around 4am and couldn't get back to sleep. I was praying and trying to trust God, but so much seemed to depend on the outcome of that presentation and their response. Heather and I had been seeking for almost two years to find the way ahead for us. Waiting for God to show us how we could live and work together (and raise children), doing the work we felt God leading us to do, and giving it freely to those who needed it most, trusting God to provide for our own needs—not an easy way to live, practically. How to arrange it? Who would be willing to work with us? And we had faced some soul-wrenching disappointments, just when we thought we had found the way forward. These thoughts and feelings crowded around me in the cold darkness.

I got out of bed and wrapped a coat around my shoulders. Sat on the floor and closed my eyes. Tried not to think about the news of the night before, that a tornado had hit the Florida town where my parents live (and that I got only out-of-service signals when I tried to call). Tried not to think about what Heather and I would do if our idea was rejected that morning, where we would go, how much longer we could hope for a future together. Tried to focus on the psalm that had pressed itself into my mind the day before:

This poor man cried, and the LORD heard him,
and saved him out of all his troubles...
Tried to sense God's presence, reassurance, support. It was so dark out. When I read the words of the next psalm, "Let those who desire my vindication shout for joy and be glad, and say evermore, 'Great is the LORD'," I began to cry.

I don't know how long I sat there. And I think the sound crept into my consciouness before I looked out and saw it. The wind. It was bright enough by then to see the movement in the trees, the solemn swaying that looks like prayer to me. Or homage. I watched it and remembered.

Then I rose in the peace of that moment and ate and walked with Heather through the snow to find out what God had for us.

As Heather wrote yesterday, we were amazed by the response to our presentation. Though some hard questions were asked, what we heard was almost completely positive. There was a surprising feeling of energy from the Plow Creek folks, and the sense that we all wanted to work together to figure a way through the difficulties. Our personal visits with a number of people in the following days confirmed that impression. We were thrilled.

The next morning I woke up before 4am and couldn't sleep any more. But this time it felt like I was a kid on Christmas morning. I didn't want to miss anything.

Nothing is decided yet, and even in the church members' meeting next week the most that can be expected is a decision to continue to explore the idea and try to work out some of the tricky parts. If we do go ahead, it will probably be a couple years before Heather and I can actually move in and begin there. And it still might not turn out to be God's long-term plan for us. (Though we very much hope it is.) But for now I am encouraged and hopeful and see God providing just enough of an opening to move forward together.

Shout for joy and be glad, and say evermore, "Great is the LORD!"