Sunday Post 69: On Praying

Posted by Danny

Each night I head upstairs to put the girls to bed.  Michelle is the first at 9 pm.  What should take 5 minutes typically results in a 25 minute process.

We often get in a tickle fight, followed by the back and arm scratch and our nightly prayer.  Throughout the routine, I pepper in questions:

How was school? 

Who did you play with on the playground today?

How are you feeling about summer camp?

Every night I pray, out loud, that my girls will make good decisions in their lives.  Hopefully, when they’re faced with a tough one, they’ll think of me and God and make the right one.

It’s this time of day that I find out who Stephanie has a crush on.  I discover the girls who are not playing nicely on the playground.  I find out about the quiz that they didn’t do very well on.  Or I get a philosophical question about life.

On Lisa’s birthday last week, I got home and found that Michelle had written her a note.  Our plan for the night was to visit their school where a statue was dedicated in Lisa’s memory.  Her plan was to leave her note, along with a balloon, as a memorial.

The envelope was sealed so I’m not sure what she wrote.  But I do know that apparently she disclosed which 3rd grade boy currently has her attention.  Isn’t that interesting?  She just wanted to share some of her day-to-day thoughts with mom.  Sometimes I want to do that too.

Someone recently sent me a devotion by Max Lucado.  It said that perhaps prayer was really about sharing the small things in life with God.  Sort of like the time I spend with my kids when I put them to bed.  His theory was that God wanted time with us each day to unwind and hear what we’re thinking.  He said prayer wasn’t all about huge miracles and bringing world peace.

I don’t know – perhaps that’s true.  Perhaps we need to spend less time worrying about how we pray or what we say.  Maybe we should just laugh and casually chat, sharing our daily victories and stressors. 

He probably enjoys that time with us as much as I enjoy my time with my kids.

Sunday Post 50: My Faith Journey

Posted by Danny

I was nominated to be an elder at my church for next year. I’ve served once before and am humbled to be asked again; I didn’t think I did that well last time. But you never know why the committee felt led to ask me. Maybe there is a reason.

Part of the process of becoming an elder is to walk through on your own faith journey, and then to share it with the current class of elders. Going through that process at this time in my life was pretty emotional.  I sort of stopped in my tracks when putting pen to paper .  What do I believe now?  How has it change over the past two years?  How am I evolving?

These were some of the thoughts I shared after pretty careful examination:

The last time I stood in front of you, about 8 years ago, I explained how my upbringing by a minister and an incredibly faithful grandfather had strongly set the foundations of my faith. Needless to say, with the loss of my wife last year, it is really, really good that groundwork had been laid.

To say that my foundation has been cracked is an understatement. My somewhat stable footing was the epicenter of a 9.5 earthquake.

Maybe I shouldn’t say this in a meeting where I’m supposed to be professing my faith, but God and I have had it out over the past two years. I think some people come through tragedy without questioning God – and I’m envious of their strength. Unfortunately, that was not me.

I still can’t figure out why in the world He didn’t step in and heal Lisa.

I remember, not long after Lisa’s death, falling on the floor of my shower in utter grief and full of anger. I beat on the floor and let God have it. And frankly, I felt better after giving Him a piece of my mind. At the time, I thought He certainly deserved it.  That was a spiritual low point for me.

And even 22 months later, I don’t understand why.  I have decided I never will.

I can, however, tell you what I do understand:

1) I understand that no matter what I say to God, no matter how mad I get, He has big shoulders and can take my questions and frustrations. He understands my grief – and sends comfort even as I have been unfaithful.

2) I know that God has angels – some of them are in this room right now. And just when you feel you can’t take one more step, one of them shows up at your door with a Tupperware container of artichoke dip. And they cry with you. And they come back the next week.

It never fails, that at my lowest points, an angel has crossed my path.

3) I’ve learned that God sends signs. I’ve asked God to prove that Lisa is OK – and He has made that apparent in small, yet remarkable, ways.  I won’t share them tonight because some of you might think I am crazy – but believe me, she’s OK.

4) And finally, I understand that God walks with you in your pain. How do I know this? I know because I know Danny Tanner – and I know how weak I am. Lots of folks don’t see that, but there is a lot of mush under this survivor exterior. I know, for a fact, that I would not be here today – beginning to see some joy again – on my own. The only way I’ve found the strength to get through this nightmare is by the pure grace of God.

And so, this elder candidate has questions – and probably always will. I sometimes have had doubts. I am surely  unfaithful at times. But this honest back and forth with God has made me think and grow as never before. And for that, I am thankful.

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