Thoughts, Ideas and Inspiration by Melissa Earley

Tag: prayer

Sometimes, God answers prayer with furniture

I love my new desk. I believe it’s an answer to prayer. I don’t normally think God cares about my furniture, but this desk is absolutely perfectamundo.

When I started looking for a desk, I knew I didn’t want a brand new, assembly required desk from an office store. That would be too sleek, too new, and too inexperienced. I needed a desk that had seen some stuff; that understood that life is messily complicated, that people don’t fit into neat categories, and few things we do are all good or all bad. At a local consignment store, I ran my finger along the half-moon, leather topped desk with delicately curved legs. I imagined writing thank you notes on fine linen paper with a fountain pen. But I knew the desk would shudder when I slammed down a book and clutch its pearls any time I uttered an dirty word. I needed a desk that could handle real world honesty. 

On Facebook Marketplace I found a used secretary desk from the 1940’s that was pretty beat up, but only $25. Beggars can’t be choosers and I messaged my interest. The desk was already spoken for so I kept looking. Scrolling through images of contemporary office sets and antique roll tops, I found my desk – another1940’s oak secretary desk that was beautifully refinished and free!! And it was mine if I was the first one to pick it up. A flurry of texts revealed that my friend Mike was happy to help and already in the town where the desk was. A few hours later, Mike and his wife Laurie showed up and helped me move the desk into my office. 

It’s perfect. There’s plenty of room for the stacks of books and notes for writing projects I can’t seem to finish and sermons I have to finish. The drawers slide effortlessly and have handy dividers made for my way of organizing. There’s even an ingenious typewriter cabinet with a spring activated shelf, perfect to hide away my laptop. 

My prayer for a new desk was a jumble of prayers for my writing life. And God said yes. It’s almost fifteen square feet of surface area tells me I will figure out how to find the balance between my pastoral role and my creative self. Its sturdiness helps me take my writing life seriously, and its history nods encourages me to tell my stories my way. 

But having a good desk makes me a writer no more than a basement full of exercise equipment makes one an athlete. To be a writer, I have to write. In gracing me with this desk, I believe God is granting me permission, no, more than that, trusting me to search for and find my writing life.

I wish Jesus hadn’t told us to love our enemies

I’ve been thinking a lot about what it means to “love our enemies.” Jesus said, “Love your enemies and pray for those who harass you.” (Matthew 5:44) I suspect he really said it because it’s not something later followers would make up so that they could be popular. Loving enemies does not win friends or influence people.

Let me be the first to admit, I don’t want to love my enemies. I want to hate them. I want hate to fuel my momentum in working for change. But hate is not a fire in the belly but a weight around the ankles. Hate doesn’t help us get things done. It cramps our thinking, it stifles our creativity. Hate calcifies our spirits, making it harder for God to breathe through us.  When I first divorced I thought hate could protect me from hurt. It didn’t. It just kept me from healing.

Love does not exclude holding people accountable, calling on them to be better than they’ve been, calling them out for what they’ve done wrong. Love does not mean we do not vote political leaders out of office, break up with a lover, or unfollow a friend on social media. Love does not mean we do not tell the truth and tell it boldly. It does not mean we do not continue to work for a just society and insist on being treated decently by the people in our lives. Love does not make us weak. Love makes us strong because it is God’s force in the world.

I’m still figuring out what loving our enemies includes. I know from what Jesus said it includes praying for them. Right now my prayer is that God would erode their hard hearts until cracks are formed where droplets of grace might enter and exand until their  hearts are broken open by God’s love.

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