The first page of this year’s story has been lived and it was a full one! Technically, each day on our calendar begins at midnight and lasts until the next midnight comes around but rarely am I awake to experience both ends of the calendar day. It is interesting that page one of my 2016 story begins with an exam — a test that experience says I will see again and again. The setting was not a typical exam setting. In fact, I suspect many of the tests of life come in times and places that are not what we would expect.
Before I get too far ahead of myself, my day began in a prayer circle with six of my friends as we closed out a New Year’s Eve prayer service and launched a 30 Hours of Prayer event to start the new year. As we joined hands in that circle, I had a choice to make. A choice between being encouraged or discouraged. I know, some of you are probably thinking, “You’re in a prayer circle, how can you be discouraged?”. Yet that was my initial reaction. See, I was leading the prayer service and the 30 hours of prayer that would follow. Faced with a 30 hour schedule with 8 unfilled time slots and only six people to join me for the prayer service kicking off the event, the expectations I had created in my mind were not being met. Unfortunately, my mind immediately went to all the people who weren’t there and hadn’t signed up. As the day progressed and the clocked rolled around to the start of the next, I realized that to pass this exam I must take captive this thought of discouragement. My mind needed to shift directions and see the six who began this year’s story with me as we prayed together. I needed to see the 22 hours that were filled with people praying at the building. I needed to see the desire and excitement expressed by those who chose to participate. Most of all, I think I needed to see God’s Word calling me to be faithful and not holding me responsible for the decisions of others.
Yes, I would have loved to see the building full of people for the prayer service because they wanted to come together and pray. Yes, it would have been nice to see all 30 hours of the schedule filled with names of people to the extent that each hour had multiple people in the building praying. But neither of those results were my responsibility! In prayer, I put together the best resources and environment that I could to help people find an atmosphere conducive to growth in their prayer life. That is what I believe God had called me to do for page one of my 2016 story. And as the writing of page one came to an end with my covering one of the empty time slots, instead of being discouraged I believe I could hear that gentle whisper of encouragement from the One who matters most — “Well done, good and faithful servant. Well done.”