A Heart Full of Thoughts and Prayers

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It is Mother’s Day weekend. And, of course, I’m having all the thoughts. (Almost all mamas can relate to Mary’s heart pondering in Luke 2.)

Sometimes I simply think the thoughts. I let them rumble around in my mind with no focus or destination. There’s no predetermined agenda and I have no filter.  I’m just tracing the years, recalling the painful days and rehearsing the good times.

At other times, I pray the prayers. I enlist my mind to generate prayers that I whisper with my mouth to my Abba, confessing my doubts and fears and also my hope in Him. I am very aware that on the other side of my requests is a faithful and listening Father. I am alert and in tune with what is true and right.

Then there are those times that I’m doing both at the same time. Honestly, this is probably where I live more than not. I start well. I’m all in. But all too soon the praying becomes mere thinking. Moments before, I had bowed my heart and mind by quieting my soul, eager to recognize my need for God’s work in me and those I love. I considered and confessed His goodness and greatness. And yet, if I’m not determined, I become distracted and my mind and heart wander to the past and the present and the future. I get sidetracked. I don’t allow my thoughts and prayers to be connected or unified. My eternal focus and intention get interrupted. I stop informing my thoughts with God’s truth and instead let my own thinking talk to my heart.
What a dilemma!
Here’s the thing, though. I’ve been encouraged to discover that it’s really ok to ponder – to think on things. In fact, Paul connected thinking and praying. He instructed the believers in Philippi to “not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God… [and] whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.”

But somehow, too many time this is not what happens. It’s not that pondering itself is a bad habit. It’s the unintentional pondering that leads to unfiltered thoughts that is unhealthy and unwise. So, I become resolved. Again. And I make my request known to a gift-giving Father, that He would strengthen me to choose more often the praiseworthy pondering. The kind of thinking that starts in heaven (through God’s word) and fills me with purpose and perspective and perseverance.

As one thought bleeds into another, my thankfulness swells. I’m drenched in the waves of His grace today, as I swim in the ocean of His goodness. It’s such a joy to spend this week with my oldest daughter and her family in the beautiful Northwest. I am astounded at the mercies of a good, good Father that allow me the honor of being a mama and a grandma to these folks. It’s a blessed gift to be surrounded by my grandsons and their sweet smiles and hugs and laughter. I’m especially thankful for what I see firsthand in the role their church plays in their lives as husband and wife and parents. (It even worked out that I’ll  be able to attend a women’s event with Amanda while I’m here!) When family lives far away, especially on those difficult or dark days, it’s a comfort to know they have the encouragement and love and care of God’s people.
And, therefore … all the feels …  and all the thoughts.

On this Mother’s Day weekend, the evidences of God’s grace around me are so abundant that my heart can hardly contain them all. As the thoughts fill my mind, I reflect on our son, our youngest, who just last week completed his first year of college, and who is presently in Tanzania with a group of engineering students. His life’s passion is to take the gospel to the nations by using his abilities to serve those who desperately need what his mind and gifts offer. Thinking about Josh leads to preaching the gospel to myself as I sense the grace in and on his young life. I ask for my motives to be pure as I pray for him. I pray that whatever he finds to do, he will do it with all his might for the glory of God. As I think about him possibly living far away, I could become sad if I didn’t remind myself that God’s purpose for Josh is His ultimate glory and not my earthly gain. I am praying for a heart that does not worry and is not focused on myself. I commit again to direct my heart to the loveliness of the gospel and the beautiful feet of those that carry it to the lost. (Romans 10)

While I’m pondering the lovely gospel, and pausing to remind myself of its depth, I recall the season of loneliness and doubt for our youngest daughter several years ago when she was a senior in high school. It was heavy enough that I can still sense the weight of the enemy’s stronghold in her soul. She was so unsure and had so many real questions. How grateful I am that the gospel message is hope-filled. The truth is that He pursues us and draws us to Himself. He grabs us like a daddy would grab the hand of his fearful child, and He holds us fast. I am so thankful that God’s good plan for Nat included such a patient and kind man, who loves her and cares for her heart.
And I look closely at the picture on my phone of my precious granddaughter who lives in Kentucky with her sweet mommy and daddy. That little crazy-haired, bright-eyed one-yr-old has such a personality that it actually shines through the phone. She doesn’t know her whole story yet. The back story, I mean. Maybe one day her mama, the one who has learned the faithfulness of God, will share with Reese all the mama ponderings that she herself had during the days when an unexpected baby was on the way. When we think on all the things, a praying perspective has a way of helping us consider all the good stuff. The true stuff. The lovely stuff.

To say I am overwhelmed in this time of reflection would likely be an understatement. I know how Paul must have felt when he penned the run-on sentence in Ephesians 1:3-14!! How can I possibly express enough thanks for the many things God has done for me! Like the old gospel song says, the “things so undeserved, yet He gives to show His love for me.” If my salvation was the only thing I received from God, it would be enough. And yet, His grace extends to even the daily gifts of life – like celebration and vacation and family and friends. The truth that I recall and speak to myself is that I’ve experienced more than enough grace for one person for a lifetime on earth!!

And yet.
Before I close, there’s ONE more thing. There’s ONE more gift to think on today. It’s so praiseworthy and excellent and lovely that I can hardly type it without watering the keyboard. I can barely take it in. It wasn’t that long ago that the pain and the sadness and the darkness were closing in on our family. My heart was heavy and sorrowful. The thoughts that tried to take up residence in my soul would not have passed the Philippians 4 test. The thankfulness was distant. Fear gripped me. Our middle daughter had lost her way and she began to grow cold to and skeptical of the only One Who could shed light on her dreary path. She tried to grip her faith. But I’ve come to know even more fully that it is God who is faithful. And He is patient. And kind.
Oh, the amazing grace of our Lord Jesus … “When Satan tempts me to despair, I hear the voice that scatters fear; the Great I Am, The Lord is here.
O praise the One who fights for me, and shields my soul eternally!”

So here I am. And right now, on this very day, my pondering and my prayer is filled with praise!! I’m so delighted as I picture two weeks from today, when our middle daughter will marry her loved one and best friend in front of precious family and friends. It has been a whirlwind the last few weeks as we’ve quickly planned a small wedding due to the unknown of military life. But the love and excitement and support from so many have lifted my spirit beyond imagination.
It’s like a huge visible banner is waving over us proclaiming: For the Lord is good. His loyal love endures, and He is faithful through all generations.

All the pondering.
All the prayers.
They lead to a deep and genuinely joyful Mother’s Day for me. And my hope for all those who need a fresh touch, a renewed hope, is that you’ll discover more and more how to ponder prayerfully. May we all think on the good stuff. For if we know the Lord Jesus and have been born into His resurrected life, we are “blessed with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly realms in Christ.”

My wordy post has finally come to an end. I leave you with a prayerful benediction …

“Now may the God of peace who by the blood of the eternal covenant brought back from the dead the great shepherd of the sheep, our Lord Jesus Christ, equip you with every good thing to do His will, working in us what is pleasing before Him through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever. Amen

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