I feel like I live life on the tip of an iceberg.
Meaning, I live my life with the constant feeling that there is more to life than what I am experiencing.
Not too long ago, I journaled this, sitting beside the river one Sunday afternoon.
“Why does it feel at times like I am so alive and vibrantly living, then the next moment I can see, hear or feel nothing, like I am standing in front of a darkened glass, knocking and shouting and pleading for a glimpse into something I know is there, something deeper and fuller and richer than even the most fulfilled life in this world?”
I feel like my experience with prayer has been like this. Prayer, to me, is an iceberg that I sit on, where I am only scraping the top of all the power that exists beneath me.
And here is where I will be very honest. I have not experienced this power simply because I don’t utilize it like I should.
It’s there! But prayer is hard work. And a lazy or disorganized mind that says yes to too many things and doesn’t focus on what is truly important will not experience this power.
But there was a day that God showed his power through prayer in a very clear way.
A year ago, I came home from a mid-term exam at school. I got home, changed into comfortable clothes, and decided to pack up all my books and papers and head up the mountain to a lonely little coffee shop on Doi Pui to study and work on term projects. I got ready, notified my housemates where I was going headed out to the main road on my motorbike.
As I drove past the last house before the main road, I noticed several people standing outside, and something made my heart jump as I drove past. One of the men stared at me in the face with brilliant blue eyes, wide and staring, his red hair on end.
I felt shivers going down my spine without knowing why. Something was wrong and I had turned out onto the main road before I could gather my wits together. By the time I got to the next intersection, I concluded two things. He was not Thai, and something was wrong. On a whim, I turned my bike back and started back. I decided I would drive past once to calculate the situation again, and then if it looked like there was something I could do, like translate, I would stop. There were two reasons I did this. One because I truly wanted to help, and two because I was curious. Yet, deep in my heart, I was also terrified.
I drove past again and they were still there, so I turned my bike around, parked and climbed off. Immediately, the Thai people noticed and waved me over.
The man was high. He had no shoes. His hair was wild and his lips were dry and peeling. Spittle flew out of his mouth when he talked. His eyes were a bright staring blue and were nearly popping out of their sockets, although had he been in normal circumstances, I would have said he was young and good-looking. I kept on praying under my breath as I talked with him. He started off begging me to take him to the main road, about 100 meters away. At first thought I said I would and then decided against it telling him instead that he would have to let one of the Thai guys take him. The Thai guys said they had already contacted the police because the lady of the house had seen him run past the house and then come back, jumping on one of the bikes in the garage as if he was going to take off with it.
He moved in close to me. “I’m going to die. I’m going to die if you don’t go with me. They’ve got a gun! They’ve got a gun and they’re going to shoot me!”
“Who?” I asked.
“They,” he pointed down the road. “You have to take me to the road. Or I am going to die!”
I clutched my bike keys in my hand, scared he would grab them away.
“I’m sorry,” I insisted. “I can’t take you. If you want to go you have to go yourself. You can walk. It’s not far.”
He came up closer to me, his crazed eyes boring into mine. “No, no! You have to go with me!”
I would talk with him for a while and then talk with the Thai neighbors. As I talked with them, the man would walk around restlessly, as if he was leaving, and then come running back in fear.
“They’re going to shoot me! You just watch! If you don’t go with me, I’m going to die!” He began walking away, watching me and pointing his forefinger and thumb into a gun and pointing it at his own head. “I’m going to die! I’m going to die!”
I watched as he went, oddly wondering to myself if he really was going to die. He went for a bit and then came running back, begging me again to drive him to the road, angry that I refused.
During all this time, I felt a surprising lack of fear.
“What’s your name?” I asked. “Where are you from?”
He was from New Zealand. I can’t remember what his name was anymore.
It took ages for a cop to show up. By that time, the man was calmer than before. At first, he insisted I go with him to the station, but eventually he became calm enough for the policeman to lead him down the road to his car. By that time, I was exhausted and in no state to drive up the mountain.
I never heard what happened to him. I still wonder.
That evening was when the fear started for me. When I was in my late teens I had wrestled with deep-seated fear at nighttime, especially when sleeping by myself. There were times when I would be unable to sleep much of a night because of fear—fear of darkness, fear of evil, fear of fear. I had struggled with this through my teens and in my lower twenties had gradually found victory through prayer, singing, reading the Word and renouncing fear in the name of Jesus. I also had discovered through this that I was extremely sensitive to anything spiritually dark. I learned what kind of books I could read and what I couldn’t read.
But this evening I could again feel it coming on. Every time I closed my eyes, I would see his eyes, crazy, wide and blue, with blood vessels sketched on the whites, right in front of mine. Even his smell seemed to follow me. I knew that I was never going to be able to sleep that night unless something changed. The fear was tangible, like a shell that wrapped itself around me.
Before I went to bed, I shared with my housemates what I was feeling. Brit right away offered to pray for me.
And that’s when I felt it. As she prayed, the fear that wrapped itself around me literally fell away. It felt like something was stripping it off, and instead a peace reigned in my heart.
I went to bed and slept like a rock. No visions of red-haired, blue-eyed men ventured into my dreams.
So, I leave you with that—the power of a simple prayer. I know my imagination, and I know my sensitivity to darkness and evil. Because of that I also know that my fear does not magically fall away because of nothing.
My challenge to myself and to you today is to utilize prayer and its power.
I wanted to write this as a reminder to myself, as a way of driving a stake into the ground and saying, “I remember this. Let this be a memorial to answered prayer so that every time I come into a situation that demands prayer, I can look back at this and say, yes. It works.”
So here is that stake, that memorial.
On this blog.