Monthly Archives: September 2020

Learning To Trust

     From the time I was a young girl, I prayed. I knew without any doubt that this life was way too big for me.

     I needed God.

     I desperately needed Him. I learned to fold my hands and bow my head and talk as I would to a friend. But that was hard. I had no close friend with whom to even compare it. Frequent moves had me constantly longing for a friend. Always standing at the new classroom and dreading that moment when the door would open and I would need to find my desk and sit down.

    No, not having friends was not easy.

    But I had my books. From Heidi, and Anne of Green Gables, to Little Women and F.B. Meyer, Tozer and George Mueller and so many more. Shelves and shelves of books. Wherever we moved my books went. Even now I can remember each house where we lived and exactly where my book shelves were.

    But remembering back I think I learned how to pray the most through need. One situation after another – my grandfather’s sudden illness, my brother’s being kicked in the head by a horse, my mother’s slow recovery from polio, and yes, praying that we’d raise enough money to buy the sugar maple farm in upstate New York.

   I prayed and nothing every seemed to happen. No lightning in the sky. No miraculous healings. Instead my grandfather died.  And I limped along wondering about this whole prayer thing.

    As I grew I learned that God always hears us when we pray. But sometimes He says yes. And sometimes no. And more often than not He says wait. So I kept talking to Him and pouring out my simple prayer requests.

     Somewhere in my teen years facing so many challenges and changes, I began to talk with the Lord. At set times and throughout the day I prayed and listened. In the strange silence I felt comforted and encouraged. I knew that although I was quiet and lonely, He was there.

     I kept talking with Him – through long walks to school crunching those leaves beneath my shoes. I spoke to Him sitting by the peaceful Susquehanna River and pondered the strangeness of life. Life began to take on a calm settledness and I hated the thought of going off to college.

     But that was what I was supposed to do – to get an education so that if the man I married suddenly dropped dead, I’d be able to support my family. Interested to think back and reflect on the reasoning. I never married until later in life. And he didn’t suddenly drop dead. But I did discover not only the marvelous career of teaching children that I loved but also the joy of praying.

    There wasn’t a day that I began teaching that I didn’t pray. Pouring out my heart to God. Asking Him to be with me and give me wisdom to meet the needs of each student. Yes, day after day I prayed and experienced the fullness of knowing that I was doing exactly what the Lord wanted me to do with my life.

    But there came a day when I knew it was time to change. Yes, deep within my heart I sensed there was something else the Lord wanted me to do. No, I did not hear an audible voice. But there was a subtle shift. Whereas before I had been settled in my profession, I suddenly felt the tinge of grief.  I argued and resisted. Hadn’t I been more than happy for so many years?

     Yes, I had but I kept sensing those words, “There is more.” Whatever that might be I had no idea. And it was three years before I began to know.

     I didn’t quit my job. I didn’t rush around and share with others. No, I kept living one day at a time knowing that God would show me. I knew from His Word and my personal experience that He doesn’t play games with people. No, the One Who was my Friend throughout the years was faithful and true. All I needed to do was follow.

    Trust grows slowly when we are with a trustworthy individual. My trust in the Lord grew similarly. He was always there through every big change and little change. Helping me cope with things that were bigger than I. Yes, He was there. He’s always been  there.

   

   

 

 

 

 

Awake and Pray

    From the time I was a child I’ve prayed. Short prayers. Meal time prayers. Goodnight prayers. And many others.

     Yes, there were prayers before going to Vacation Bible School asking the Lord to help me find the right bus home. And there were always the prayers before taking a quiz or test. Without prayer I absolutely know I would not have passed high school.

    Then there were the money prayers. Please, Lord, help me. I’m short this much money and the bill is bigger than life itself. Please, please help me.

     And the sickness prayers. Please, Lord, help me not to come down with that flu that everyone else seems to be struggling with. And help me, Lord, to stay healthy and strong. And, Lord, heal me so that I can get out of this bed. I just hate being sick, Lord. You know.

     And then the travel prayers. Lord, you know how I hate to fly. Please keep the plane up. Please, Lord, help it not to crash into the Atlantic where the sharks are. And please help me drive safely and place Your hedge of protection around me so that no one crashes into me.

   So many different prayers. All of them from the depths of my heart.

   Now that I’m a little older my prayer life has begun to deepen and grow. Desperate moments continue but they don’t drive me to prayer. Need for health and healing for myself and many others is on-going but that doesn’t dominate my prayers.  

    No, my prayers are simple moments of conversations between my Lord and I. Sometimes it’s structures. Many times it’s not. We just talk about this and that. About this situation and that one. About that dear person and that one. And oh how I treasure these times.

    Because of Him.

    He’s always welcoming. Always pleased to spend time talking with me.  Deeply interested in all that interests me. And so much more. Much more. My prayers have grown to be focused on Him.

    The time I spend in prayer goes so quickly. I find myself listening more. It’s like He quiets me with His loving look and I settle into His Presence and care.

     Well, for these reasons and more, I decided to waken each morning and not only pray which has been my routine but also to video it so that others would join me too. Yes, it’s a strange action for one as quiet as I am.

     But one morning I sensed that He wanted me to open myself and welcome others to pray with me. All together with Him.

    As we gather together from around the world in prayer, God strengths us, gives clarity to our days and gives peace. He hears and answers our prayers. He draws us closer to Himself and others.

    My prayer is that you too will discover that wellspring of benefits that flow from simply praying. We learn to pray by praying. So let’s begin this adventure by praying now.

Dear Lord,

     Thank you for calling us to come to you in prayer. We praise you that you have made it possible for us to come into your presence through Christ’s death and resurrection. We are so grateful that you welcome us to spend time with you and to listen to your Voice. In a world that is desperate for Answers You keep shining your Light. We believe in You and simply trust You.

     I encourage you to awake and pray every day. If possible join me on Facebook on my personal page Sharon Beth Brani. I’d love to pray with you.

             

   

 

House Arrest?

Her words caused my breathing to stop. For a moment.

How could it possibly be?

“You are under house arrest. You must stay inside and talk to no one,”

My thoughts raced in a million different directions.

What had I done?

Here I was thousands of miles from home.

I was in the process of completing an adoption

and suddenly this.

Instantly there was fear.

How long would it last?

What if? A million what ifs.

 There was no way to communicate with my family in the states.

No. There I was.

So what do you do when suddenly life changes

and the unexpected happens?

What do you do when you realize that you are helpless to change things?

“O Lord. I really need your help.”

I prayed and prayed.

Hours dragged by as I sat in the small room with only a narrow bed.

One minute at a time.

I never expected that my desire to adopt would lead to this.

Simple meals were brought to my door.

No words.

Then my worse thought  hit me.

Would I ever get out?

To see my little girl at home?

My parents?

Ugh, but I was seemingly helpless. No phone.

It was at a time of unrest in the world many years ago

and for me a time of awakening.

These things really do happen to ordinary people. Like you. Like me.

I just happened to be at the wrong place at the wrong time it seemed.

House arrest?

Me?

Well, after a few days I was released

and was flown out of that part of the country

and back to a safer city.

But I’ll never forget that scary experience.

While the world kept turning

I sat and prayed for release, for freedom.

And in His time

God made it possible for me to be safely released

to board a small, very old, rickety plane

and to fly. Just me and 3 other foreign men.

Hair-raising moments? Yes.

Today as I remember

I’m grateful beyond words

that I was released.

Quietly set free and flown out of that hot spot.

Grateful to once again experience God’s hand in the details of my life.

And while we experience all kinds of changes and unsettledness today

it’s reassuring to know

that God hears our prayers.

He knows exactly what is going on

where you live

and where I live.

He knows how trapped some people feel,

He knows how much we miss what we used to do.

Yes, He knows.

And even though we don’t understand everything

we can trust Him

with all of our moments.

He has us safely in His care.

We do not wait in vain.

Let’s just rest in His arms while we wait

knowing that we are not alone.

And nowhere could be safer

than in His tender care.