Crossroads, Prayer Runs, Running

More prayer than running, but a prayer run none the less…

I received the following post from a high school parent on Facebook:

Bekah I think that Williamsville North needs a prayer run

Somewhat “excited” (not the right word) that I had a clear answer of where my next prayer run should take place, I replied asking her to let me know if she had specific requests.

 

I soon found myself with the news that a North students had decided to take his own life that day.  After talking with the mom a little more, I was determined to do a prayer run near Williamsville North in the morning and I did.  It was kind of surreal to think that the very situation that prompted the idea for the prayer runs in the first place was now leading me to another high school in the morning only 3 weeks later.

I got to the school about 45 minutes before school and began running.  I ran over by the middle school behind the high school too.  After about a mile I made my way back to the school.  I wanted to just stand/sit and pray as students walked in for the day.  I also thought I might see some of our FT students and be able to see how they were doing with the news.  I think I saw two of them coming off the bus but I was still a little ways off and couldn’t catch them.

I’m not sure what I was expecting to see as I watched students file into the building today but it wasn’t what I saw.  It kind of just seemed like another day at a high school.  I wondered how many knew.  I saw tears forming in one girl’s eyes as she got out of a car… whether it was due to Jamey’s death or something else, I’ll never know.  But for the most part things seemed pretty normal.

The humbling part came a few minutes later when I was near the entrance when the morning announcements were made.  After the pledge the student giving the announcments simply said, “I’ll now turn it over to our homeroom teachers who have an announcement for you.”  It still sends chills through my body as I type this… right at that moment, the students were hearing the news.

If they didn’t know before, the would now…

there was no escaping it.

As I sat outside, only silence coming from the PA system, the students in classrooms all over the building were receiving the news.

No doubt many of them had probably heard it from each other before they got to the classrooms, but this was confirmation… it was real.  And if that wasn’t enough, a voice, most likely an administrator came  back on the PA system, “By now you’ve all heard about Jamey’s death…”

As I sat outside covering those students, teachers, and administrators in prayer I could almost sense the air get a little heavy.  “We know this is going to be a difficult day…”

 

I lingered a little longer…

 

… again, trying to wrap my own mind around the news the students just heard and imagining how they may be reacting.  Getting up to leave I passed a few classrooms.  Glancing in I could tell they were still talking about it… students facing forward, likely a more captive audience than the teachers had experienced all year.

 

A humbling way to start the day, “on-site” at the very moment the announcement was made.  There may have been less running and more praying on this specific prayer run, but what a privilege to be right there, on my knees asking God, our Father, to hold his children…. pleading that God would use this situation for good somehow, that people would come to know Him and the hope he has to offer… lifting up students who also may be reaching a point of hopelessness… praying …. and still praying… and inviting you to pray…

 

Emily, Justin, Josh, Jordan, Kaira, and Rotimi… you’re all in my prayers along with your entire school!

Running

Running With Purpose

I began my run this morning just like every other day this week… iphone in hand streaming music into my ears, my “Runtracker” app on, ready to watch another gorgeous sunrise. It was a little warmer than the other days this week and definitely more humid, but off I went, out of my apartment complex on my “normal” route.

About a half mile into my normal route I come upon Sweet Home High School (SHHS). Generally, this is just another landmark on my journey, but today, my heart and mind went back to a conversation I had with a Sweet Home High student just last night. She informed me that another student had tragically died only days before beginning his senior year. As I had looked through the memorial page someone had set up on Facebook for this student, “listening” to students, friends, and family pour out their grief of this friend, brother, son, student… I was hit in the gut with the extreme hopelessness in our world.

So, today, as I crossed the street and began running alongside SHHS, I turned off my music, put my headphones in my pocket, and simply began to pray.

I prayed for our First Trinity students who knew Austin.

I prayed for the teachers of Sweet Home. Being a teacher’s kid I know how crazy starting a school year is in general, let alone with a tragedy like this.

I prayed for Austin’s family.

I prayed for all the students who may be blaming themselves for this tragedy, asking the question “What could I have done?” I prayed that Satan would back off and the God would remove any guilt they may be experiencing, replacing it with truth, The Truth.

I prayed for everyone that knew Austin; that they’d truly be able to grieve. Loss is hard no matter what. But there’s just something more intense about losing someone so young.

I prayed for people to surround the grieving and point them to the hope in Jesus.

I prayed that our FT students would be able to be a light to their friends as they begin school on Wednesday.

I prayed… and as I passed SHHS and went farther on in my route, I kept praying.

I prayed for all high school students in the area as they start school this week.

I prayed for hope in a world that seems so hopeless at time.

I prayed for all our 9th grade students beginning a new phase of their lives… and for our freshmen in college as they, too, begin anew.

I prayed.

Suddenly, my heart grew excited and hopeful as God placed an opportunity before me. For the last mile of my run today, God and I discussed some details of how this kind of thing, running and praying, could be a part of my ministry. Here’s the plan we ended up with by the time I got home:

Later today, when I go into work, I will make a list of all the high schools where First Trinity students attend. Then, each week I will pick one a high school to focus on in prayer that week. At least one day of that week I will drive to that area and run near the school as the students are either beginning or ending their school day. My purpose… pray and run. It’s so simple, but I’m so excited about it!!! I’m excited to be able to pray for my high school students, their friends, their teachers, their school in general and to be “on site” in a way while doing it. I’m excited to think about asking them a couple days before my run if there are certain things I pray about while I run, specific needs in their lives or that they see in their school. I’m excited to see what God has planned as begin running with purpose… I’m sure He’ll show up and I can’t wait to see what happens when He does!

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(The sun rising over Sweet Home High.)

31 Days of Hope

Hope {Day 26} – Hope When You Just Don’t Understand

Why him?
Why her?
Why me? 
Why now?
I just don’t get it, God!
I don’t understand

 

I’m sure we’ve all had moments where we just desperately LONG to understand God’s reasoning behind a situation.  I know I have.  Like when a kid in my youth group back home was killed in a car accident 3 years ago this month. Or when my little buddy, Nicholas died of cancer at only 9 years old.  I ask for understanding when I see a friend struggling with more burdens than anyone should ever have to bear or watch as another friend gets the news that yet another surgery is in the future.

 

We long for understanding.  This makes me think of a story I once read.  The author had just adopted two boys from Africa and was trying to adopt a little boy named Sergei, an orphan from Belarus (below Russia). The little boy got to come for a five-week visit but then had to go back to the orphanage to wait for paperwork to go through.

Here’s the story from there:

"At the writing of this book, the process had already taken more than a year, and we still don’t have him home. It has been a hard year of wanting and waiting, feeling hopeful and at the same time quite helpless. We’ve only been able to get a couple of packages to him, a few e-mails and one phone call.

 

When we were working on arranging the phone call with Sergei, I asked some of the officials to please provide an interpreter… I wanted Sergei to know that the adoption was being delayed not by us but by the red tape of two very different governments. When no interpreter was available, my heart sank. So much time had passed since Sergei had communicated in English with us, I doubted he would remember enough to make the conversation meaningful.

The lady helping to arrange the call, one of the few Christians involved on their end, knew I was disappointed with the news. So the day before the call was to take place, she sent me an e-mail to encourage me: "There will be no interpreter as nobody knows English as Ryasno. But you will tell him that you love him, and that he will understand."

 

The Belarussian lady’s comment reminds me so much of what God continues to teach me about trusting Him. When I grieve over the bummer things in life and cry out to God, I can imagine God instructing the Holy Spirit to say something similar to me. … "There is no way to interpret this event in a way she can comprehend, but tell her that I love her, and THAT she will understand.

Isn’t God amazing? Yes indeed, God is good. Even when I can’t understand His timing and His ways, I do understand his love, and that IS enough!"

 

It is my prayer that in those times that you "just can’t understand" that you will find hope as God says to your heart:

"There is no way to explain to you what is going on, why it is happening, or when you will see any change, but know this…
I LOVE YOU."

31 Days of Hope

Hope {Day 7} – Giving Hope from Afar

In a way, this post is kind of “Part 2” of yesterday’s post.  I mentioned yesterday that often in the times where hope needs to be offered, there aren’t really words or actions that can give that hope… rather, being present is simply enough. 

 

While I believe that is often completely true, I can’t just stop there. No, I’m not saying that I want to do more.  Rather, my heart calls out, “What about the times when I CAN’T be there?” 

 

Three months ago I moved halfway across the country from all my family and friends.  I’ve come to realize how difficult it can be to see friends and family go through hard times (and good times too) and be hundreds of miles away… feeling helpless.

 

While technology is wonderful and allows for more communication during those times, the act of just “being” with them, isn’t really an option. How do I give hope in those times?

 

Up until this last week I probably would have finished this story by saying something to the effect of “I guess all I can do from here is pray for them.”

 

While that is a true statement, I can’t really DO anything else… I realized a new, and what I believe to be a better, perspective while listening to Pastor’s sermon this weekend:

 

Prayer shouldn’t be my only option to help simply because I’m not close enough to do something “more.”   With this perspective, I make prayer something small.   But dear friends, prayer is anything but small.   As Pastor Chuck said, “The prevailing power of God flows through people who pray.”

 

Instead of seeing myself limited to this seemingly insignificant task due to my distance from those hurting, I can feel privileged to be able to pray for my family and friends when they experience trials and joys in life. 

 

I can find FAITH that God’s power works through the prayers I’m lifting up for the CUNE/Seward community as they mourn the loss of a little 10-year old girl right now.

 

I can find JOY even in being able to stand on a hill with arms outstretched… praying that the God of HOPE would surround the hearts and minds of those I care about whether I can be present with them or not.

I can find PEACE as I pray that those I love would find hope to be an “anchor for their soul” (Hebrews 6:18-20). 

And through that process of prayer, I am then also anchored to Hope Himself, Jesus Christ.  

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31 Days of Hope

HOPE {Day 2} An Ever-present, Loving God

My thoughts for today are simple. They are not even really my thoughts… not MY words, but the words of our great God, the provider of great hope. 

 

While these passages may not specifically say “hope” in them, as I heard them read at a funeral today, hope was definitely proclaimed. 

 

“God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble.” Psalm 46:1

 

EVER-PRESENT

 

The God of the Universe.  The Creator of the World.  The sustainer of the world… present… always with us.  I call that… HOPE.

 

“If God is for us, who can be against us? … Who shall separate us from the love of Christ?  Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? … No… for I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 8:31, 35, 38-39

 

Nothing.  ABSOLUTELY NOTHING… not even death can separate us from God’s love…. I call that… HOPE.

 

 

An all-powerful God who never leaves and who loves us no matter what!!! … What a beautiful picture of hope!

Bekah's Heart, Devotional, First Trinity

Joyfullyblessed…It’s kinda weird…

It’s kind of a weird thing to attend a funeral for someone you’ve never met, but definitely a unique opportunity that I’ve had a few times since being on internship, including once this week.

Normally, funeral are associated emotions of grief and pain and confusion.  Of course there is hope and glimmers of joy in the resurrection, but most of the funerals I’ve attended I sit there just not even knowing WHAT to feel.

The funeral that I ran sound for this week gave me an opportunity to understand more of those feelings I always feel but can’t quite name in that moment.  Most of all, I realized that somehow, everything seems so to impact lives so much deeper at times like these… verses from God’s Word, lyrics from hymns… everything just seems so much more profound… so much more… well… ironically… more ALIVE!

To hear things like: “… NOTHING can separate us from the love of God.” (Romans 8 ) takes on new life when heard at a funeral.  

“For as we have been united with Him in a death like His, we shall certainly be untied with Him in a resurrection like His.” (Romans 6)…means something different when you contemplate someone coming to the end of their life… or well, in another way, the beginning.  

Or how about these words from a well-loved hymn:

“Yet when this flesh and heart shall fail and mortal life shall cease.  Amazing grace shall then PREVAIL in Heaven’s joy and peace.”

We can sing that song on just any given day, but to hear those words at a funeral gives it so much more depth.

I think my favorite part of the funeral this week was to hear the soloist sing these powerful words:

“Then sings my SOUL, my Savior, God, to Thee.  How great Thou art. How GREAT Thou art!” 

My prayers go up for those I know who have lost loved ones recently (or maybe even not so recently).  In those moments when there just aren’t words, may our very SOULS sing out to our great God! Even when we can’t understand, may He give us the strength to trust.  May he draw us closer to himself and give us new life in Him.