Nathan has had a love affair with airplanes as long as I've known him. His dad is a pilot, and he grew up with a passion for planes that didn't fade with childhood. Although I think he really would have liked it, Nathan did not become a pilot himself, but instead he studied to be a civil engineer. There wasn't any obvious connection between his career path and his love of planes, but God saw fit to allow an unlikely union of those two things to take place when, just over six months ago, Nathan became a proud employee of the Memphis airport in the development department, which just happens to be made up of a lot of engineers!
Since then, Nathan has been an avid explorer of all things airport. He has gone from department to department, learning what each one does and getting a feel for how the airport works together to function as a whole. I have been the sub-beneficiary of all of this knowledge, gleaning the information second hand over dinner each night. Since my knowledge base was non-existent when he started the job, it's no exaggeration to say my current understanding of airport functions has grown by leaps and bounds.
Sometimes some little snippet of airport info is especially interesting to me. Like when I found out that the airport has its own on-campus fire department. I really had a hard time digesting that as I confirmed with Nathan that the fire department, located airport property, existed for the sole purpose of dealing with airport fires. That seemed so shocking to me, mostly because I realized these guys must go years at a time without ever getting called for one fire. Keep in mind I know nothing about what this particular set of fire fighters does on a daily basis, but it seems to me that not having regular fires to keep you busy would lend itself to a constant struggle against becoming complacent. It has got to be difficult to stay alert, ready at a moments notice all the time, when things appear to be tranquil, steady and under control.
I was thinking about this last night when I met with a group to pray for someone who is in need of some prayer warriors to step up on his behalf. The man leading the group spoke with a passion for prayer that I have rarely heard, and his words were alive, both with the truth he was speaking and the solid belief behind every word he spoke. God used him last night to remind me of a lot of things, not the least of which was the importance of not becoming complacent in the season of life I am walking through right now.
It is shocking to me how easy it is to glide into a comfortable pattern of minimalism in my relationship with God when there isn't a crisis to keep me totally, 100% leaning on Him. I am enjoying so many things right now: my kids, my marriage, my job, my friends, my church, my hobbies. All wonderful things to be grateful for, yet also so much to take me off my guard and reduce my level of urgency about things that need to be seen as exactly that, urgent. Like prayer.
I am so grateful to be reminded about the absolute necessity, not just of a quick few minutes of prayer each morning to start the day, but of serious, time investing periods of prayer. I was reminded that even though all of the public prayers of Jesus recorded in scripture are very short, He took long periods of time to get away and pray privately. In he midst of His very, very busy public ministry, Jesus took the time to pray. I needed to be reminded of that, especially now in this particular season, so that I don't become naive enough to get to the point where I imagine I can get by with a surface level prayer life.
The fact is, a surface level prayer life is never going to cut it, because no matter how the pie is sliced a relationship with God without the vital element of prayer firmly in place is always going to fall short what God intended for us. Boy, do I have a lot to learn in this area. I have seen some amazing things in regards to prayer in my time, but still, there is so much I'm lacking. I was challenged last night to make the next month a time of serious, life changing prayer, and I am taking that challenge. Over the next month, I am asking God to show me things about prayer that will transform my understanding of it in a way that will take me deeper than the surface level, out of complacentcy and into power.