I woke up again this morning with a pit in my stomach. This has been a recurring feature over the past couple of years living in Italy. It has baffled me at times because I could not get to the source of it. I would not wake up with anything in particular on my mind. Just a general sense of dread and stress. But today I knew why.
Last night the son of our Italian landlord called to inform us that his father had passed away a couple of weeks ago from a heart attack. Our landlord had been a very easy person to work with. We were renting a family home of his-some 800 years old. And at times it has acted its age. Living in Italy has been stressful for us as a family. I have often said that living here is like getting kidney punched all day long. It’s such a beautiful country and the people so very warm and genuine that you sometimes don’t notice the cultural stresses that are assailing you. The daily punches can eat up your margin.
What if our landlord’s son wants to sell the house immediately? What if he wants to raise the rent significantly? What if he doesn’t like us? What if, what if, what if? This morning I finally committed the situation to prayer. I had an assurance that God could handle the outcome whatever it may be. The landlord’s son came over with his wife and was here maybe for 20 minutes. He was very nice. We gave him a copy of our contract. He merely stated that there was a new bank account number for the electronic rent transfers-and we were done. Nothing more to it than that. Both my wife and I were relieved. Why had I fretted? Why had I lost sleep over this? Why did I have the stomach pit? I know it has much to do with how I view God, how I view my salvation, and how I think about prayer. I desperately need to live more as a loved child than an orphaned slave. I struggle often with rightly seeing God as a loving heavenly father rather than a distant task master. I think the pits are from not believing that God cares deeply for me and has my best interest at heart. And at times my prayer life is a clear reflection of that belief.
This afternoon I read an essay on John Calvin and prayer. You don’t often hear the reformers name tied to prayer-but that is our fault, not his. Calvin had a lot to say about prayer and what I read was thought provoking and profound. Here are a couple of quotes:
“Prayer is a communication between God and us whereby we expound to him our desires, our joys, our sighs, in a word, all the thoughts of our hearts.”
In prayer we are “permitted to pour into God’s bosom the difficulties which torment us, in order that he may loosen the knots which we cannot untie.”
For the one who truly knows Christ as their Savior Calvin deeply understood that prayer is primarily an intimate conversation between Father and child. It is a conversation that the Father longs to listen to, acknowledge, and honor with His divine wisdom and action on our behalf. Here’s to untying more knots!