Katie Harmon-McLaughlin of Sacramento, CA, USA
Thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel, to all the exiles whom I have sent into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon. Build houses and live in them; plant gardens and eat what they produce…seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile, and pray to the Lord on its behalf, for in its welfare you will find your welfare. For surely I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord, plans for your welfare and not for harm, to give you a future with hope. -Jeremiah 29:4-5, 7, 11
One night I lay awake in anguish, the truth of un-freedom burning in my soul. I noticed how lately my actions had been rooted in what would comfort, benefit, or promote me. I felt myself attached to what was confining and disconnected from my deeper longings. Sleepless in the dark, I sank into some inner chasm I had avoided where I witnessed how discipleship and selfishness stand at odds. I reflected, through uncomfortably vivid memories, where the difference between the two was being lived in me. There was no imposed shame or guilt, just a piercing awareness that wrestled me out of sleep and refused to let go until it was seen.
Strangely, this was consolation. Restlessness can be an act of love. When too long ignored, what is most real in us might just pound incessant on the heart’s door. In that moment of opening, I felt the warmth of Spirit-presence encompassing with unreserved grace amid my aching grief. To really see the truth in myself is a gift of healing I often evade. The word “repentance” formed on my lips and it was genuinely a desire for return to the source of what really matters, a reorientation from where my life focus had been recently misplaced.
The problem with midnight repentance, I realized in the full light of a new day, is how it wants to be lived, how night-time convictions demand daylight expression. It takes so much courage to be faithful. Do I even want that courage? This is when temptation comes, swiftly, as false assurance, justifying and rationalizing, desperate to maintain a status quo.
“Resist the dulling and the numbing,” bellows something significant out of my soul. “Follow this real thing. Let it stay sharp in you that it might carve a holy space for freedom to live.”
When unsettledness gives way to fear and I question my convictions as I’m called to live them, I remember this midnight consolation. I remember the relief that came from naming the dissonance in me and seeking greater harmony with the Spirit. I remember the peace of Presence, stronger than my hesitation, gathering up the jagged pieces of my confessions into something smooth and whole.
I am about to do a new thing, now it springs forth… (Isaiah 43:19).
A New Thing
Breathe deeply and listen within. Where is the Spirit doing a new thing in you? How do you feel about the new thing that might be emerging? Are you excited, resistant, fearful, hopeful? Take whatever you are experiencing to prayer. Breathe deeply and listen around you. Where is the Spirit doing a new thing in your community? Pay attention to how it feels to discern the Spirit’s activity and presence within and around you.
Today’s Prayer for Peace
Engage in a daily practice of praying for peace in our world. Click here to read today’s prayer and be part of this practice of peace.