I am sitting in a small square in Sarajevo. Somehow I’ve always had the urge to come back here, to this country which suffered so much in the recent past. Memories are flooding my mind. I brought my two sons here when they were children to run around and to rollerblade. They ran, played, raced, and shouted excitedly. I watched, sometimes worried, always prayed for their safety, and once in a while helped them with a game or refereed their competitions.
Did you know that parking lots at midnight can be very romantic? I’m talking about the romance I experienced with Jesus while walking in a parking lot.
I needed to get some daily exercise and I only had two options: either go to the air-conditioned gym or walk in the warm outdoors. Since I get cold easily, I chose walking outside in the heat. However, I found that even for me, there’s a limit to the heat I can take. So since it was a very hot time of year, I had to wait until it was cooler outdoors—which turned out to be close to midnight.
Christmas is always such a busy time. You have more to do than usual. Your to-do list seems never-ending, the hours in the day seem shorter than normal, and the tendency to push yourself is compounded.
A lot of people don’t pray until they’re in some sort of trouble, and then they find their faith is weak and their relationship with Me is strained because they didn’t place much importance on Me before trouble struck. They feel hypocritical or undeserving when coming to Me in prayer, and they don’t know what to do or where to start to make things right.
Several years ago, my life was very uncertain. And in the middle of that loss, crisis, and stress, I began to question everything, down to the very foundation of my faith. I’d been very comfortable with prayer before, but then it became a struggle. Some days I was angry with God, some days I didn’t feel like I could trust Him, some days I just didn’t know what I felt.
Not long ago, I confided to a friend that I felt overwhelmed with stress and anxiety over my work. She suggested that I spend more time meditating on God’s goodness and studying His Word as an antidote. “But I don’t have time!” I protested.
“What do you mean, you don’t have time?” she queried with a twinkle in her eye.
Some of my most significant moments with God have been with my hands in dishwater. For many years, I’ve been in the habit of starting my morning with devotional reading and prayer. But inevitably, time ticks by, and I need to get up and begin the day before I feel like I’ve quite finished. Paraphrasing the old gospel song, “I’d stay in the garden with Him, but the day around me is starting.”1
I’ve often struggled to make time to pray. Though my wife and I pray together each morning and before bed, I find myself neglecting that regular “talking with Jesus” throughout the day, especially when sudden things come up. I know I need to pray, but it’s hard, really hard, to set aside “prayer time.”
Since I was a little girl, I have heard that God is omnipresent. I used to have a vague idea of it, like some cosmic energy, but since then, I have had some experiences that have changed that view.
When I was 18 and living in London as a student in the early 1970s, I came to know Jesus in a personal way and our relationship began to develop. I used to go for long walks to parks on my own, and it felt like someone was walking by my side and talking with me as an old friend. Instead of feeling lonely, I felt recharged.
What amazed me the first time I saw an oil refinery up close was the intricate maze of pipes. Besides the complexity of it, one wonders how it can all be maintained safely and still be financially viable.
Proper pressure must be kept in every pipe to ensure that the oil flows at just the right rate—not too fast lest it burst the pipes, and not too slow. The designers were clearly ingenious, and it takes an army of experts to maintain and monitor it all.