Saturday, January 20, 2007

Learning to Ask Him for Help in Times of Trouble

By Charlotte Lowrie

In mid December 2006, the Seattle area was hit with a powerful wind storm with some wind gusts up to 90 and 100 mph. Power lines fell onto the pavement like spaghetti on a platter. Huge fir trees were ripped from the ground and crushed homes and cars. More than 1 million homes, including mine, were left without electricity. At first, I coped well enough with the power outage. Using a large gasoline-powered generator, I could run essentials including the refrigerator, the computer, space heaters, and a small portable television. Unfortunately, the heating system wasn't powered. But my having the generator was far more than most people had, and I was thankful. On the first day after the storm, I filled the generator with gasoline...and I continued to fill it three or four times a day from the next six days. I was comfortable enough though the temperatures dropped into the low 30s, and the house was chilly to say the least. Somehow, however, every day had the feel of camping out, and every day it became harder to find a gas station that had both electricity and gasoline to sell. I carried 5-gallon cans of gasoline back and forth daily. The car, the house, and my clothes smelled either like gasoline or generator fumes or both.

The Stress Increases...

By the end of the sixth day without electricity, I was feeling the stress-- stress from keeping the household systems running, watching the water rise in the backyard from the rain, and trying to work despite the ongoing fallout from the wind storm. I also realized that the biggest stress was from my own selfishness and self-centeredness. I wanted electricity back, and I was trying to act like everything was okay.

Within six days, I'd become an irritable and angry person. I stopped morning prayer. Instead, I pulled on clothes, so I could go out to a cold garage, pour oil and gas in the generator, and then come back in the house and march around the kitchen to warm up. Then I was off to a warm shower so that I'd be presentable for whatever the next crisis might be. But Dec. 20 was a tipping point. The septic system wouldn't pump, and the glowing red light told me that the system was full. I plugged it into an extension cord from the generator, but the light continued to glow red. I was at a loss. It was the last mini-crisis, and I couldn't solve the problem.

About 10 p.m. on the sixth night, I turned off the cell phone, the little TV, and I opened my Bible at random. The passage that I opened to was Psalm 20 that begins, "May the Lord answer you when you are in distress. May he send you help from the sanctuary and grant you support from Zion... May He give you the desire of your heart and make all your plans succeed..."

He told me to ask...
Certainly that was an appropriate message for me. I bowed my head to pray. I seldom ask for the favor of the Lord especially when I know that other people are in much worse circumstances than I'm in. Praying for myself seems too selfish. But with the drone of the generator in the background, I listened with bowed head. The Lord very clearly told me, "You have to ask." I hesitated for a long time because that’s a very hard thing or me to do. But He told me that He delights in giving good things to His children. He told me that His resources are unlimited, and that my asking does not deprive others. He told me that when I receive His favor, I then have an opportunity to give His love to others who are in need.

So I asked. First, I asked Him to fix the septic system pump, and then I asked Him to turn on the electricity. Then I asked for forgiveness for my selfish behavior. I turned over all of my anger and resentments to Him. I also turned over my sense of "sole responsibility" for the house and the septic system to Him. And I told Him that I need His help to keep the house going. When I said Amen, I felt instant and complete relief.

And then He answered...
I started the nightly shut-down routine. I lit candles in the house. I put the blankets by the fireplace to warm. I grabbed the flashlight and went to the garage where I turned the generator power panel switches to Off. The garage was pitch black except for the light from the flashlight. I turned the generator off and closed the door. Then I went back to the power panel and turned all the switches to "Line" – just in case the power might come on during the night.

Using the flashlight to light my way, I went to the door leading into the house. I turned the doorknob, and, at that precise instant, the lights in the garage come on. I was stunned and confused. Surely, I thought, I must have made a mistake shutting the generator down. It took seconds for me to realize that, yes, indeed, it was real electricity powering the lights in the garage. I went through the house turning on lights. They all worked!

I stopped at the kitchen counter and prayed a prayer of praise and thanksgiving! This was His answer to prayer, and it came complete with His perfect timing! I opened all the furnace vents--throwing the cost of electricity to the wind. I turned up the heat to a full and glorious 65 degrees! I turned on the electric blanket to high. For the first night in the past five nights, I would sleep in bed instead of on the sofa by the fireplace.

His faithfulness is amazing and wonderful.

The next day, I went out to buy warm food for the power crews who were working in cold rain to restore electricity for those who were still in the dark.

I've learned that it is okay to ask. And, of course, He is faithful to answer our prayers.

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