For the first time, I cannot find a short and meaningful post title because I have yet to put into context and relate the contents I am about to write. Let’s see what comes out of this as we go along, shall we?
I had recently returned from a business trip to the middle east. It was a challenging assignment because it was the first time I was tasked to not only work but excel in an unfamiliar location and working with people I have only met for the first time. Communication prior to the trip was minimum and it really felt as though I was dropped into war zone without knowing what to expect except to survive.
The time zone shift did not help when my body was telling me that it was 2am in the morning while my mind tells me it was only 10pm – local time. There are just too many aspects for me to cope. The pressure to give a good presentation a day after my arrival was getting unbearable.
Like during most travels, first on my to-do list was to find solace, give thanks, and say my prayers in a church. This particular mass that I attended was quite awesome and to some degree I felt that the sermon spoke to my soul. The gospel reading for the weekend was about how Jesus taught his disciples to pray. In other words, it was about prayers and the priest had two very interesting stories to put into context how we often miss the point when we pray. In his words, prayer can be seen as a formative action. Though I am unable to reproduce his sermon in its entirety and in his exact words, I hope the following captured his meaningful stories.
Prayer is formation
As bedtime passed one night, a mother sent her child upstairs to say his prayers before going to bed. Moments passed and suddenly she heard loud cries “LORD, PLEASE LET IT BE TOKYO!” Shocked, the mother rushed upstairs and asked what was wrong. The child replied, “In the geography paper today, one of the questions asked what is the name of France’s capital city. I answered Tokyo. I now understand I answered wrongly and remembering how you always tell me that nothing is impossible with God so I am now hoping God will answer my prayer”.
A man complained how he was unable to build a house on his land because a huge rock was in the way. One day, he heard God telling him, “Push against the rock”. He obeyed and pushed against the rock for weeks and months but to no avail. He eventually gave up. God asked him why he had given up. He replied, “God, you asked me to push the rock away but it did not budge”. God answered, “I did not ask you to push the rock away but merely just push against the rock. I also see you obeyed and did that fervently. I see a change in you that you do not notice yourself. You used to be overweight and weak but now look at you! You have 8 packs, huge and strong shoulders, and a V shaped waist. Now, take a huge hammer and break the rock into pieces. You will have enough stones to build your house with as well!”
Are we praying correctly and are we forming ourselves to be stronger than what we are today?
And coming back to my stressful assignment in a foreign land, I realize that God seemed to be moulding and forming me into a bigger, bolder, and better person so that I am able to face all the challenges in life. Psychologically and mentally, it can be difficult to see through the hardship when you are experiencing it first hand. When you are alone, it is very easy to succumb to all the self doubts and self limiting thoughts. Having had a sleepless night prior did not help the situation. The night before the important presentation was especially difficult. The mind plays back each word that I should be saying repeatedly just like a broken radio.
I can almost feel that something was about to give way but at the same time reminded myself to keep praying and distract myself with positive thoughts and images. Turned out, I have successfully applied all the methods my therapist/counselor had taught me to avoid spiralling into depression.
The important presentation came and gone. Many good feedback and comments from the audience. I was relieved and it felt like a huge boulder has been lifted from my shoulders. It felt really good.
To cut the long story short, the trip ended with a pleasant surprise. My flight back home was upgraded to business class. I really don’t know what happened but it felt like God cutting me some slacks and giving me a pat on my back for a job well done.
I guess that is the sort of relationship I have with God.
I believe it can be the same with everyone else if only they take a moment to reflect and realize that He exists…