“God moves in mysterious ways” … odds are you’re familiar with that quote. Still, I wasn’t really expecting to find it being something I thought of as relevant when I got around to joining Facebook about a year ago.
Let’s get the messy factual stuff out of the way first, since it has virtually nothing to do with what’s on my mind anyway. Apparently the line is a) usually misquoted, “God moves in a mysterious way” appears to be correct and b) isn’t directly Biblical as I think most of us believe, but from the opening lines of a hymn, Light Shining Out of Darkness written in the late 18th century by William Cowper. Okay, borderline irrelevant background info done & done.
Of all the things I thought I might get out of Facebook — a few laughs, maybe renewal some valuable relationships that had fallen by the wayside through the years, or just random amusement — I can’t say that I ever expected it to have a significant impact on my spiritual life. Guess things don’t always work out the way we expect.
In hindsight, I realize that I probably should have anticipated it. Sure enough, I’ve reconnected with an awful lot of people that really weren’t in my orbit any more. We’ve relocated, gone through different stages, etc., all those things that fall under of the general heading of “living life” … but for the vast majority of the people who populate my friend’s list, there’s some sort of relationship there. Loosely defined, that means at some point we’ve not only at least generally known what was happening in each other’s lives but that we’ve also cared about those events on some level. Naturally then, if those relationships are resumed, that interest is going to come along with them. That’s hindsight talking, but when I signed up for Facebook I had no idea what it was going to do to my prayer life … but that’s by no means a complaint either.
See, now I know a great deal more about the things that are happening with, and sometimes to, people I’ve known for large chunks of my life. Very few of us get to skip merrily along carefree through all of our days with bluebirds on our proverbial shoulders, instead we all run into little potholes & hungry alligators that think we look tasty, occasionally confronting much worse & more serious problems than those. Since like often tends to find like, it’s not really surprising that a good percentage of my friends find comfort & strength in prayer, which brings me to what surprises me most about how Facebook has changed my life: I find myself praying for others a lot more than I have in years, quite possibly in forever.
I’m more aware of specific needs, I’m more connected to more people for whom I wish happiness, I’m more involved for lack of a better word here … and that’s a good thing. We’ve all got our own beliefs, but since this is my blog I’m not inclined to be bashful about this one of mine: praying with sincerity for one another is a good thing. I’m nobody’s bible scholar so I’m also not inclined to seek, parse, and quote 22 specific scriptures to prove that belief to anybody. As I’ve heard more than one preacher I had confidence in say through the years (at least paraphrasing here) “I know that I know”. Agree or disagree, that’s your business, I just know that I have to stick with the things that I believe at my very core or else I’m likely to cause myself a lot of grief, and this is one of those things. Tell you what else I know, beyond any shadow of doubt in my mind (which is the one I have to live with everyday): those prayers matter. I know, because I’ve felt them, been lifted by them, been comforted by them, had them make a difference in my life. A few of you who read this have heard it before but it bears repeating.
I sat in a hospital room a few years ago, waiting for word to come out of an operating room where my wife was undergoing surgery for a malignant tumor in her lung. Reader’s Digest version is that the surgery took a lot longer than expected, so you can imagine where my fears were taking me. Somewhere between being ready to climb the walls, ready to run down hallways like a lunatic, ready to break down into a terrified mess, I was overwhelmed. Not overwhelmed by the worry but by what I can only classify as an indescribable blessing. Peace, comfort, assurance, it all came at once. The strongest wind & the gentlest breeze, all at the same time. It didn’t come anonymously either, I know it came from Heaven above. I also know very clearly that it came borne of the wings of all the prayers of intercession & mercy that had been prayed by family, by friends, by people who barely knew us but were aware of the situation. Same time I received that blessing, I was also served notice about how much prayer had offered up on our behalf. I know that I know. Some of you also know by now that the situation had a happy ending – she’s cancer free & on the whole came through the experience with flying colors – but in that hospital room that day, the outcome was certainly in doubt for a frightened husband about to fall to pieces. Those prayers add up, those prayers matter, and we don’t have to see or hear about the impact for them to be important.
Same as I’m nobody’s Bible scholar as I said, I’m also nobody’s saint. I don’t spend enough time in prayer, I’m not consistent enough in my prayer, I’m not as attentive to it as I should be. That isn’t the point here at all, and I hope no one mistakes that. The purpose of this entry is much simpler. It’s just to say that I never expected Facebook to become a source of inspiration & motivation, that being the case is easily the biggest surprise of the whole social media experience for me personally. I find strength in the simple but sincere support & encouragement I see, I find direction & motivation in the opportunities that are presented … and I thank God for the unexpected opportunity.
Another time, I’ll probably get around to talking about how the games on Facebook are really nothing new & why I’ve been playing games like them so much & for so long. More than once in this space I’ll probably end up ranting about something completely inconsequential. For tonight, you’ve got Three Cents I’ve been meaning to spend for quite a while.