I love the idea behind Harry Potter’s “Marauder’s Map.” Do you remember? It allowed him to see, at any time, who was where at Hogwart’s:
The ability to have an omniscient perspective and see things that usually cannot be seen is incredibly exciting.
I remember how my mind lit up the first time I explored geocaches in my area. I’d heard about friends “going geocaching” together, but when I opened a geocaching app and saw dozens of caches within a five-mile radius of my home, I felt like an entire world had opened to me.
A similar thing happened when I flew to Texas for a professional conference. Frustrated with the expense of the taxis and the long waits involved with the hotel shuttle, I tentatively downloaded the Uber app for the first time. Within minutes, I could see four drivers within a few minutes of my location.
In an instant, I realized I never had to stress about finding a ride again.
As I thought more deeply about the concept of seeing beyond our normal vision, I realized that this applies beautifully to something else that is unseen, and so needed, and quite literally all around us.
Spiritual help. Angels. Power from above.
We might refer to this help by different names, but anyone who has personally experienced it will affirm that it is real, and I’d like to discuss how we can access it more quickly and more frequently.
I asked my children for their opinions on this one afternoon: “If we had an app that could show us exactly where on the map spiritual help could be accessed, what do you think we would see?”
My 12-year-old son, Ethan, sweetly replied, “Mom, I think it would be everywhere. The entire map would be covered.”
If we could really see where spiritual power is available to us, I think we would be overwhelmed by how much is within our reach. The problem is that when we are in the middle of challenging moments, we too often forget.
Like last month…. It had been a long day–one where I had battled some very personal problems that turned my stomach into knots. I knelt by my bed that night and explained to God how hard everything had been. “And then this happened, and then that happened, and, oh my goodness, it was so difficult. I’m grateful I made it through, but I don’t know how I can keep doing this.”
Then a very simple question came into my mind: “Why didn’t you ask Me for help?”
I sat still–no idea how to respond. Was it because I simply forgot? Was it because I didn’t think help was available? I’ve been thinking about this for weeks now, and here are four things that I am convinced I could do better. (If this is helpful to you, I’d love for you to join me!)
One fall afternoon, about 13 years ago when we were living in Boston, I was out on a drive by myself–talking with God and explaining a new assignment that felt overwhelming to me. I paused for a moment and heard this soft, comforting response: “Why are you scared when I am your Guide?”
I loved that. Of course we don’t need to be scared, but this only works if we believe that there is Someone guiding us.
The summer after I delivered our third child, a preemie of 10 weeks, our family moved to a little apartment in Los Angeles so my husband could complete an internship. With three preschoolers and no friends in the neighborhood, I was sinking fast from the exhaustion and stress. One morning, my internal dialogue sounded something like this, “I am so tired. I don’t think I can change another diaper. I need a break. I’m tired of having spit-up all over my shirt.”
At the same time, my then-three-year-old, Alia, wanted a Slurpee from the local 7-Eleven, and she kept whining, “Mommeeeeeeee, I want a Slurpeeeeeeeeeee.” (I’d told her earlier that we could get one that day.)
Finally, I turned around and impatiently said, “Alia, if there is something that you need or want, you don’t have to whine about it. All you have to do is ask.”
As soon as I said those words, I heard a voice in my mind say, “A-ha!”
I got the message (and did my best to stop whining).
Sometimes we’re hesitant to ask for help because we don’t see how an answer is just going to “fall from the sky.” But when we do all we can, we can see how God has the power to manage His miracles.
Years ago, my dad’s architectural firm was sued by a client for 17 million dollars. The client had changed their specifications multiple times during the project–and were then upset that it wasn’t completed on time.
With only 200,000 dollars of insurance coverage, my dad’s company was facing financial ruin, and he was assigned to find a lawyer and get everything settled. This put him into one of the most stressful situations of his life.
My dad prayed for help, and then he knew he needed to act, trusting God would help him. He started interviewing lawyers, and after meeting with the first lawyer, he thought, “Yes, I think this is a good choice.” He then went to the phone to cancel the appointment with the second lawyer, with whom he was to meet that afternoon.
“As I went to cancel, I had a feeling I should go and meet with him anyway,” my dad later told me. So he did.
“I sat waiting in his office, and when he walked in the door, I knew that he was the one to represent us.” (My dad still gets choked up at the thought of this). “We were able to settle the case out of court for $180,000, which was covered by our insurance.”
Effort, creativity, and time are often required of us before we receive the help we need, but those things lay the foundation for an amazing amount of grace.
My mother is in the last stages of Alzheimer’s, and she generally isn’t able to participate in conversations anymore. But one afternoon, my sister Laura and I were sitting by Mom’s bedside, discussing this concept of spiritual strength.
“Sometimes I look at what’s in front of me, and I think that there is no way I can do it. I don’t have the energy. I’m not up to the task,” I confided. “But then I step back for a moment and ask myself, ‘Has there ever been a time–even once–when the Lord has let me down?’ And the answer is, ‘Not once.’ He gives me so much more than I merit, and so when I start walking into what seems to be a long, dark, overwhelming time in my life, I only need to remember that I have help right there.”
Laura said, “Look at Mom. She’s listening. She’s here. She’s nodding her head.”
I turned to look at my mother, and though she didn’t have the words to say it, this is what I felt: “April, what you’re saying is true. The Lord is there for you. He’s there for me. Don’t give up. Never doubt Him. His mercy is a gift, and whenever you need Him–no matter what–He will take care of you.”
I feel such power when I keep these reminders close to my heart, and lately I have been trying to kneel more often–immediately when I need spiritual strength. Though I still have much to learn, the support I have needed has come every single time. I don’t know how it works, but it works.
I hope that each of us will not just see the hurt in our lives, but also see the help. I hope we won’t just run in circles, but that we will see how we can impact our circles of influence with power from above. I hope that we won’t simply dwell on what puts us in these “holes,” but that we will learn how God can help us to be whole.
I have no doubt that the spiritual help that each of us needs is much, much closer than we think. Let’s remind one another to take the steps each day to access it.
LEARN: Have you had an experience where you discovered that help was much closer than you originally thought?
DO (and BECOME): Consider the level of trust you currently have in a Higher Power. Is there something you could do this week to increase that trust and more fully access the help that is available to you?