Pretty peach-colored flower at the Dallas Arboretum, Dallas, TX

Praying for flash drives and Benadryl cream

What can we pray about? It’s a legitimate question. Do you ever wonder if the requests you bring to God are too paltry for his attention? Do you ever not ask Him for something because you’re afraid He’ll think you’re being silly?

Pretty peach-colored flower at the Dallas Arboretum, Dallas, TX

Pretty peach-colored flower at the Dallas Arboretum, Dallas, TX

Today’s verse is Ephesians 6:18.

Pray in the Spirit at all times and on every occasion. Stay alert and be persistent in your prayers for all believers everywhere.

As I mentioned yesterday, I’m at a writing workshop at Glen Eyrie in Colorado Springs right now. So far, it’s been tremendously encouraging, and I’ve learned a lot about some writing process issues that I’ve always wanted to ask established writers about. My parents came with me, and they’re getting to chill on the grounds and around the area while I’m in the workshop.

I love traveling, especially road trips, but the downside to travel is luggage. I hate having to lug a bunch of junk around with me, so I have learned to pack light (and to live with wrinkled clothes because I refuse to iron anything). I live my life by landmarks, even when it comes to hotel rooms, so when I walk into a room and deposit my stuff, I expect it to stay there. I get into a routine throughout a day and try to leave things exactly where I expect them to be. Now that place may not make logical sense to anyone else but me, but if I can find it again, that’s what matters, right?

Well, this morning we had a bit of a panic attack because I couldn’t find two items that I really needed–some Benadryl cream for a mysterious bite/rash that has appeared on my lower back (and is driving me nutty) and my flash drive.

Last night, I ended up searching all over the bathroom area for my pills and found them in my mom’s bags. She likes to straighten things up, and she thought my things were hers because they look exactly alike. So I asked her if she’d moved my Benadryl cream. She didn’t remember doing that, so we started looking. And that’s when I realized I couldn’t find my flash drive either.

Maybe this is silly, but my flash drive is the one thing I own that I have to have. Everything else could be blown away, but my flash drive has the last 20 years of my creative life on it. I back it up regularly, but remember I’ve been at a creative retreat for the last few days and I’ve filled it full of new material I didn’t have before. Losing it would be a terrible blow.

The Benadryl cream was an issue of comfort. The flash drive was an issue of sanity.

We looked high and low. We turned the room upside down. I looked everywhere it should have been and everywhere it shouldn’t have been, and I couldn’t find it anywhere.

That’s when mom announced that she was praying that we’d find it. And I felt like a moron. Why hadn’t I thought to pray about finding it? Refer to previous blog posts. I scramble around like a madwoman trying to do everything myself first before I ask God to help.

And here’s the really big irony. The keynote session on Sunday night AND on Monday morning had been about whether or not God is enough for you if you lose everything you thought you were supposed to be about.

Yeah. Ouch.

So I sat down on the bed and told God that if He wanted me to find it, that would be great. But if He didn’t, I would still be great because He was great. And lo and behold! I glanced in my back pack (I had already looked there) and it was in a pocket.

Talk about a relief.

And then we prayed that we’d find the Benadryl cream too because my back was itching so bad I could hardly think straight. I hesitated at first because after God had already answered the BIG prayer about the flash drive, was it really okay to ask about the itch cream? That seemed kind of silly in comparison. But I remembered this verse. We’re supposed to pray about everything. Every occasion. All types of requests.

So I prayed.

And Mom found it in her cup with her toothbrush.

Go figure.

But the whole crazy scenario this morning just served to remind me that God honestly does care about what we care about. Whether it’s something big like a flash drive that stores 20 years of creativity or a tube of Benadryl cream that only halfway relieves itching, if it matters to me, it matters to Him.

But I thought it was funny I had to be willing to give it up before He’d give it back to me.

Rose Garden at Glen Eyrie, Colorado Springs, CO

Still, small voice

In a conversation, what’s more important than talking? That’s what a conversation is, right? Talking to each other. Wrong. A conversation includes talking, yes, but you can’t have a real conversation if both people aren’t listening. If one of them isn’t listening, then you just have one person talking to themselves and inviting someone else to experience it.

Prayer is the same way, because prayer is a conversation with God. And we know that God listens to us when we speak, but it should work both ways. Are we listening when He speaks?

Rose Garden at Glen Eyrie, Colorado Springs, CO

Rose Garden at Glen Eyrie, Colorado Springs, CO

Today’s verses are 1 Kings 19:11-13.

“Go out and stand before me on the mountain,” the Lord told him. And as Elijah stood there, the Lord passed by, and a mighty windstorm hit the mountain. It was such a terrible blast that the rocks were torn loose, but the Lord was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake. And after the earthquake there was a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire there was the sound of a gentle whisper. When Elijah heard it, he wrapped his face in his cloak and went out and stood at the entrance of the cave. And a voice said, “What are you doing here, Elijah?”

I am actually composing this devotional in the Rose Garden at Glen Eyrie, one of my favorite places in the world. I don’t believe in magic, but if there were such a thing, the Glen would be full of it. Something about this place—when you walk on the grounds it makes you want to be quiet. It makes you want to remember how to be still and listen. It makes you want to slow down because if you rush by you might miss something miraculous.

In fact, I was just sitting on this bench, and I heard a strange buzzing sound. Too soft to be a motor, too low to be a bug. I didn’t know what it was until I saw one of the dew covered leaves flatten out with the weight of a hummingbird. Yeah, it’s not often you can sit working on a laptop and watch hummingbirds sipping dew off rose petals.

It’s so easy to be busy. It’s so easy to be loud. It’s so easy to run around frantically and get so focused on everything that’s happening today or tomorrow or what happened yesterday and how it will effect today and tomorrow. But if we’re so busy running around, how do we expect to hear what God wants to tell us? If we’re too busy to read scripture, how can we expect Him to communicate with us? I mean, yes, God finds ways to communicate with us, but His primary means of speaking is through the Bible.

Everyone needs to quiet down, otherwise we’re just talking and expecting God to talk to us without us having to listen to what He’s saying. Maybe His answer isn’t what you want, but you can’t say He hasn’t answered.

God can answer in wind and fire. He can answer in earthquakes and thunderstorms. He absolutely can. He’s God. He can do what He wants. But that’s not how He works. That’s not how He communicates. Even with Elijah, He didn’t speak in some awe-inspiring judgment-day type of experience. He spoke in a still, small voice.

That still, small voice is still small today. And if we’re running too fast, we’re going to miss it. If we’re talking too loud, we’ll talk over Him.

I know it’s hard to slow down. I know it’s hard to be still. Trust me, I understand how difficult it is to prioritize. But what matters?

Be quiet. Be still. Listen. He’s speaking. He speaks every moment of every day. Sometimes through Scripture. Sometimes through nature. Sometimes through the Spirit. Sometimes through other believers. But He never stops speaking.

Are you being still enough to hear?