Untying the Knots

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!

8 responses to “Untying the Knots

  1. Really enjoy your thoughts, friend!
    Cya in a few minutes!

  2. I can so relate to your post today, Gary. The knots, the cultural stress eating away at my margin, living like an orphan. Thanks for the perspective and honesty.
    …. and get excited about U2. It was incredible!!!

    • Thanks Cheryl for the comment-I am seeing new ways in which I must pray to fight the cultural stress. I’m sure you have some thoughts on that???

  3. Thanks for sharing this, it is the spiritual journey I’ve been living! I keep pondering “for my yoke is easy and my burden is light,” realizing that I am missing something in my walk, when that is not my experience. We pray for your rest in God, as we do so for ourselves.

  4. You know, Gary, it is just one of the ironies of life, isn’t it? One of the reasons I wanted to live abroad and do what I do is that I wanted a life where I was forced out of my comfort zone. I wanted a life that caused me to press into Christ and stay focused on Him. These cultural stresses are one of the pathways He uses to get me there, but I can forget that is one of the reasons they exist! Worry, stress, constant vigilance concerning “what ifs” and making endless contingency plans for each one…. All in vain! One of the greatest blessings in dealing with this has been praying together with my room mate at night before we lie awake with those worrisome thoughts distracting us from all forms of resting. Talking about it aloud with the Lord and in community really helps me re-align my heart. It is still a battle, but I have seen some progress here.

    I would love to hear more from you and others, too! I think it is a great, relevant topic for us all! Thanks for raising our eyes!

  5. Gary
    I know about those knots too well from our years in Greece.
    Now back in the States I thought they would fade away – but it seems knots are not just a Greek thing – they can travel.
    I think you are so right to say that “the pits are from not believing that God cares deeply for me and has my best interest at heart.”
    You’d think that we’d get that by now…??

    I used thoughts from your previous post to share at a time I got to facilitate recently – good stuff!
    Thanks for sharing,


    • Thanks Jeremy for your comments-we were in Greece this summer and was again amazed at the similarities between Greece and Italy. I know you are right too that the knots travel. Hope you are loving your new role though-tell the Burke’s Hi for me-and feel free to use anything you see by me-you can improve on it.

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