Now I can finally tell you what happened today! After service with Grandpa this past Sunday, I found myself seated with my aunt at her dining room table while she prepared the spread for the afternoon's Memorial Day barbecue. With a knife, a bowl and potatoes in front of her she diced spuds for the potato salad while giving me another one of her auntie wisdom speeches. Life is about being happy, you should chase the desires God has put your my heart now while you're young and have little to no obligations holding me back... and so on. Booming throughout the house during this conversation was Kirk Franklin's latest album, Losing My Religion.
I've listened to Kirk Franklin's music my whole entire life. Whole. entire. life. Literally! I grew up on this man's music and have never not been a fan. However, I wasn't wowed by the first two singles from Losing My Religion, so I didn't jump on it right away when it was released in November. Having bought it six months late, I'm in awe at the artistic growth and the depth of conviction that pours from every sound on this album. For example, "Road Trip" is like my personal testimony with a nice foot-stomping groove. "My World Needs You" manages to meld desperation and joy in the same 7-minute song, and the climax sounds like a chorus of angels is crying out for the world.
Anyway, this album and a recent Kevonstage video about Chance the Rapper have got me reflecting on Christians' duty to be open and to draw people in lovingly, and how so many of us have missed the point and striven to do the exact opposite. I was put on this earth to love, not to judge. And how can I claim to believe what I believe if I don't love people and show it? And how can I claim to love people if I don't pray for them? So all this week I've just been listening to this album, reading scriptures and praying. Listening, reading, praying.
One of the people I prayed for was my best friend D, who called me on Memorial Day to tell me about yet another incident that's added to the troubles that've piled up for her in the past two years. But she talked about it with such humor in her voice, and right after our conversation I asked God to bless her resilient spirit and to put something in her life that would take her mind off of things and help her remain joyful. Cut to this afternoon, when my other friend S texts me at work inviting me on a trip to a beach on the other side of the state this weekend. D was welcome to come too! D and I were so unbelievably excited to have this spontaneous chance to get away and visit somewhere new, and when I thought about it I realized that this blessing was two-fold.
You see, I'm a traveler. I've visited a new place very year since freshman year of college, and I promised myself that I would keep this up. But this year my prospects haven't looked too good. Due to limited time off and a certain savings goal that I've set, going abroad hasn't been a viable option, and neither has the idea of spending a whole week in a city out of state like Ma and I have done last year and the year before. I tried to get Ma excited about Toronto, but she thought it would be too expensive and wouldn't help me with planning. Then I thought to get away to Baltimore and visit a friend there, but that friend's schedule ended up being too full. So I figured, Welp, maybe I just won't go anywhere this year. And then this happened. Yes, it's still in Michigan. Yes, it's only a weekend. But it's somewhere new! Not only that, but I don't have to plan anything, I don't have to arrange transportation, I don't have to pay for accommodation. I basically just have to show up. Easy!
And the thing is, I should've prayed about this but I didn't. I honestly forgot. I was thinking about it so much that it didn't occur to me to pray about it. So I learned something new today. God's so funny and knowing that sometimes He'll answer prayers that you hadn't even thought to pray yet! All I can do is say "thank you" and laugh. Pack a smile, 'cause this road won't be easy, that's how Kirk Franklin's "Road Trip" begins. Well I'm going on my own road trip this weekend I'm going to smile as much as possible all the way!
This is going to sound bizarre, but even after spending so much time I don't know why I've written all of this. I'm not a prayer warrior (yet), I'm still plenty bitter and confused about some things. In short, I'm still learning. But I feel like I'm changing. And when I got that text about the trip I just felt called to write about prayer. Prayer doesn't always work the way you want it to, but I'm believing that it works. The answer to prayer may not always be clear or immediate or what you wanted it to be, but I'm believing that no prayer goes unanswered.