This year, many Christian men and women are saying what a hard taskmaster God can be. Adamant means “inflexible, or persistent in maintaining a position or opinion.” God can be loving, but He also can be adamant with me—maybe they are the same thing. During difficult times in my life, He insists I attend “dance” classes. The unrelenting stress of certain circumstances can force me to perfect my steps to His sacred rhythms.
This personal “dance” is a discipline that means that I must step for an hour in intercessory prayer to begin each day. Mondays are given to praying for David and for our adult children, grandchildren, then for extended family, particularly any who are not Christians. Tuesdays are given to prayers for Mainstay Ministries and our staff; Wednesdays are for Hungry Souls. On Thursdays I pray for those artists in the popular culture who are already positioned to do God’s work—that He will draw them to Himself—and I pray for my own writing as I begin to point it to markets outside of the religious ones. On Fridays, I intercede for our sorry world. On Saturdays, I turn my heart to Sabbath, but I pray for the church catholic, for the pastors on our lists, that God will pour out His Spirit.
This adamant Dancing Master is insisting that I pore over the Word daily and take notes and memorize. This is serious business, this dance class; no lollygagging around in the hallway at the candy machine. During times of intense stress, I reinstate prayer vigils. Once, when our ministry was under financial duress, we met every day around noon in the staff kitchen—office appointments and meetings and blocks of responsibilities had to be designed around this time, each day, without fail. Step/step. Practice/practice.
Some days I felt excessively burdened in this dancing lesson—as though David and I and our staff were in an unending rehearsal but didn’t know what the production was going to be or when a performance was scheduled. And despite all the forced practices, I still kept turning right in the chorus line when everyone else was turning left (complaining and grumbling about how our prayers weren’t being answered, falling to sleep at prayer, not meaning what I was saying). Like a teenager, all too often, I arrived for rehearsals out of breath, late, and having forgotten my dancing shoes.
The prayer work in this dancing class, morning and noontime and evening, is like labor that never ends in birth, or like a marriage that is not consummated, or like a musical that investors have financed but never reaches Broadway.
“How long, O LORD, will you forget us? How long will you look the other way? How long must I struggle with anguish in my soul, with sorrow in my heart every day? How long will my enemy have the upper hand?” Psalm 13.
And during days, weeks, seasons, years in the hard place, all I hear Him say is, “Practice. Practice. Keep dancing.”
Other projects involving Karen right now:
Karen Mains has been a spiritual coach to many Christian women and men. These days, however, she is finding joy in working in teams with highly qualified adults who bring spiritual teachings into her life in fascinating ways. Maturity is a state where the teacher realizes she learns as much from her students, she receives as much from her companions as she teaches and she gives. Hungry Souls is a ministry that is a laboratory for those who seek to develop spiritual growth tools that work. Check out Karen and David’s Web site, www.hungrysouls.org.
Notice (Advent Retreat):
Registration is open for the upcoming (Advent) Silent Retreats. One of the Advent Retreats is for Christian women; the other is designed for both Christian women and men. See the Hungry Souls Web site for details.