REFLECTIONS ~ Shivering Lizards

January 25, 2013

On a recent Monday morning, I walked the winding trail to the top of the small mountain in the preserve just south of our home. At the peak, I took off my iPod and turned off the podcast I was listening to. It was a clear day and the sun was starting to warm the morning air. I sat down on a flat rock and looked over Paradise Valley in north Phoenix. I like to sit on the mountain overlooking the city and pray.

We came to Phoenix in 1984 with four children and a truckload of furniture. At the time I didn’t know what the Lord was going to do in our lives. One day I read a promise in Deuteronomy 6:10-11 that gave me hope. “I will give you a splendid city, with houses you don’t have to build and wells you don’t have to dig.” We now have wonderful friends, a great church and a beautiful home in this splendid city.

As I began to give thanks on the mountaintop, I saw something scurry up the rock below me. A large lizard had come out of the cold shadows and stretched out on the warm surface of a rock. As the sun began to warm its body, the lizard began to shiver. It was adjusting itself to the warmth of the sunlight, like someone coming out of the ocean warming up on the sand of the beach.

Earlier that morning, I had stretched out on the carpet on the floor of our bedroom and shivered like that lizard. I wasn’t shivering from the cold, but from depletion. On Friday and Saturday, I had made several trips to Hospice in Scottsdale to be with Paul Pittendrigh and his family. Paul was in a coma dying from a stroke. Paul and his wife, Naomi, had been with us at Living Streams when the church was still in our living room in 1984. They left Phoenix to serve with YWAM for many years and returned to live out their retirement. Paul was ninety years old and a man who showed his love for the Lord by his acts of service. He drove tractors and heavy equipment helping YWAM develop their University in Kona, HI, as well as on the mission field. He went to be with the Lord on Sunday afternoon, just as our morning services were ending.

Loving people deeply takes all the strength I have on many days. It is not a chore for me to love God’s people, it is a privilege. Jesus commands us to love one another because he knows that it is the most enriching way for us to live. However, watching someone you love as they die, even when you know their life has been full, is very challenging. We can’t love deeply people without being vulnerable.

When I feel drained, it is easy for me to get agitated. That doesn’t go over too well at our house. Kristina has low tolerance for anyone who gets frustrated or angry and starts directing it towards her. She definitely expects the one who preaches about the Spirit-filled life on Sundays to live the Spirit-filled life on Mondays. Therefore, I have had to find a remedy for depletion, one that works quickly and surely, or else I have to find a remedy for an upset spouse, which can add layers of complication to a depleted soul.

So I often lay face down on our carpet, or on a towel in the backyard in the shade of our porch, calling on my Father in Jesus’ name. Just like a lizard shivering in the warm sun, my soul gets warmed as the Holy Spirit fills me up. There is no specific formula for prayer, any more than there is a formula for good communication with a friend or your spouse. I start with being honest about my need for God’s grace and I stay on my face until my heart warms up. I may need to confess something I did wrong, or I may need to simply confess that I am weak. I get strength, and sometimes good ideas, simply by waiting quietly in God’s presence. I pray for other people as they come to my mind, but my main goal is to connect with my Father. He knows me, loves me, and hears my prayers. Like the lizard receiving energy from the morning sun, I sometimes shiver when God warms my soul with grace.

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