“Likewise, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit itself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words.” – Romans 8:26
As I sit down to write I know it has been a while since my last post – a full six weeks. It feels good to be back and even better to have the craziness of the last month and a half behind me.
As much as I like to write there are many other priorities in my life, whether I like it or not, that are either more important or more urgent than sharing my thoughts with you. On the up-side, over this six week period I have attended my daughter’s high school graduation, prepared for and hosted a graduation party, had the pleasure of family from out of town stay with us for several days, and hosted a party for some dear friends who are relocating out of state. On the down-side, I’ve fought the Ohio spring weather in trying to complete the spring clean-up of my property, and made many more business trips out of town than I normally do.
About a week and a half ago, after most of these things were behind me and the pressure was off, I “woke up” one morning on my way to the office and realized I had not prayed or had my daily conversations with Jesus in too many days. Then, I looked back and I realized those days had grown into weeks.
I spent the rest of the drive to work contemplating what had happened. I realized I had simply been caught up in the urgencies of so many things pulling me in different directions that I had let Him fall off my radar screen. Once I got past the sense of shame I felt a little bit of consolation in that I still had faithfully attended mass every Sunday (even though it was at four different churches), and spent an hour with the Lord during Adoration every Friday evening. As I parked my car I thought, “I’ll take some time later this morning and pray”.
Later that morning didn’t happen. I didn’t think again about praying until the next morning as I began my drive into work. Again, I decided I had let too many other things get in the way of my daily prayer. But, this particular morning, after deciding I needed to spend some time in prayer, I thought, “Where do I start? How do I come back?” And, then, before I answered those questions for myself, I was parking my car again.
Another 24 hours passed and I resumed the conversation with myself the next morning. But, the only answer I came up with was, “I don’t know where to start”. Frustrated, I vowed to think about it later, and I opted to listen to some music the rest of the way in to work.
I had the new CD from Jason Gray, Love Will Have The Final Word, in the stereo so I turned it on. One song was just ending and the next song, Begin Again1, began playing. About two-thirds of the way into the song the following lines caught my attention:
“It’s never too late for a new start / If you give God the pieces of your broken heart / When you come to the end, you can begin again.”
“Begin Again”. That was the answer. With those words, I knew it didn’t matter where I started or how I began “coming back”, just that I do start and I do come back. God doesn’t care how I do it, just that I do it!
Shortly thereafter I pulled into my parking lot and went to my office. Being a half hour early to work, I had time to pray, to “Begin Again”. I just started praying like I was having a conversation with an old friend I hadn’t seen in, well, six weeks or so. It felt good. It felt welcoming. I felt His Grace come over me and I thanked Him for taking me back. And, before I said, “Amen”, I thanked Him again for coming to my rescue in the way I’ve come to expect – through some mysterious and unexpected sign such as a timely song lyric or other phenomenon which most people would call coincidence. I know otherwise.
Later that morning as I was basking in the comfort of His love I wondered about all the people who drift away from God. How many of them start the same way I did, slowly, surely, and freely letting the busy-ness of life get in the way of maintaining their relationship with Him? How many drift too far away before realizing it, convince themselves they are too far out to sea to turn back, or forget their faith is their life raft that will keep them afloat? Too many, I’m afraid, forget the first step to beginning again is to whisper His name.
“Dear God, I thank you for Your gift of faith, for a heart to love You and a mind to know You, and for the courage and will to come back to You when I have drifted away from You. Lord, hear my prayer for everyone who finds themselves alone, that they may accept Your gift of faith, hear Your voice or see Your signs that are calling them home to You. Let me be a disciple who leads the way. Amen”
1 Begin Again, words and music by Jason Gray and Jason Ingram. ©2014 Centricity Songs, Jason Gray Designee (BMI)/Sony ATV Timber Publishing, Open Hands Music (SESAC)
(The post, Beginning Again, was first published in Reflections of a Lay Catholic)