Praying the Tangle
Life is good and beautiful—it is also complex and hard. God's grace and love is present daily, and I am deeply grateful. I experience my longing for God, deep faith, and a passion to align with His purposes, but I am also aware of my own weakness, my selfish bent, and my desire for comfort. Sometimes life feels more tangled than not as I collide with the chaos and evil in the world, or I get caught in the places within my own heart that still need God's transforming hand.
There are many days as I sit down to pray that what I offer to God is more tangle than anything else. I can speak the truth with conviction, "God is good." But then I see the evil and pain in the world, the wounds of one I love, or the brokenness of my own heart. And my cry to God is a mix... praise for the beauty of autumn leaves falling, delight in the acorns strewn across the path before me (evidence of new life), grief for a friendship lost, anger at an unkind word, joy in community worship, hope in emerging life and creativity, and frustration at the injustice in our world. What a mix—what a mess!
So... I pray the tangle. I feel the emotions of joy and sadness, of anger and compassion. And I show up for life with God. I seek to engage, to offer, to release with courage.
There has been an image in my heart of offering God this mix of emotions and thoughts, questions and convictions in response to lived reality. So I got out my pencil and paper. And I drew hands offering the tangle. When I start a drawing I often have a vague image... usually I am surprised by the end result.
As I started to draw I included two acorns nestled in the tangle of ropes and ribbons of fabric (I was not exactly sure why). For me, the rope represented thoughts and the fabric represented emotions. The hands of God reached down to receive the offering. As the chaos was lifted up it untangled in the presence of God... and a small tree emerged. Finally, behind the little tree, I drew the shadowy impression of a large tree trunk that would reach well beyond the border of the page.
I did not plan to include acorns and trees in this image. But the truth is that as we offer God the tangle in our heart or in our lives with open hands God will produce life. Perhaps God extends his Kingdom through our willing offering or perhaps God further transforms our hearts. Regardless, life is produced when we surrender to the hands of God.
When I notice uncertainty, questions, uncomfortable emotions, convictions, or grief in my heart I figure I have a tangle to pray. I do not need to figure it out all on my own… I am invited to sort it out with God: by the Spirit, through the Word of God, and with the body of Christ, the church. Sometimes God provides discernment or understanding, sometimes God invites me to trust, and sometimes God invites me to action.