Excerpt from chapter "Summit meetings with God" from Leona's forthcoming book.
On one occasion I visited Korea during winter. Korean Christians in the village area where my friends lived got up daily before dawn summoned by the ringing of church bells. They struggled in darkness through narrow, deserted streets in the bitter cold to their unheated church. They knelt on the cement floor and prayed to the same God I worship in my comfort zone sitting on a padded pew in a climate-controlled sanctuary.
A fervently praying people, Korean Christians often trek to mountain retreats to fast and pray for days as they sit or kneel on straw mats in unheated assembly halls bare of furniture. Some pray alone outdoors in rough-hewn closet-like shacks that resemble short telephone booths dug into the sides of “Prayer Mountain.” The shelters are only high enough for a person to kneel; a flimsy wooden door protects them from drifting snow and icy wind. A bare light bulb dangles from the ceiling for reading God's Word after dark. I took photos of those sanctuaries as a reminder to my lazy spirit.
I stayed overnight with hardy missionaries in the mountains of Japan where water froze in the glass at my bedside. I wore a ski cap to bed and plunged deep under five comforters with a heated brick at my feet to make it through the night in an unheated antique trailer. Nevertheless, their call to prayer came daily at 5 a.m. before breakfast for the whole missionary community to assemble, including children. I broke the ice in the porcelain basin to wash my face. My toothpaste didn't thaw until noon.
Lord, have mercy on my weak, slothful flesh. Waken my lazy, comfortable ear, bolster my will, and draw me into Your presence by the sheer power of Your love.
I confess that I have a sleepy ear. When it snuggles deep into my pillow, it is as if there were a sign on it: Do not disturb! I've never been a morning person. I'm convicted by this verse: “[The Lord God] wakens me morning by morning. He wakens my ear to hear as disciples—as those who are taught. The Lord God has opened my ear, and I have not been rebellious or turned backward” (Isaiah 50:4,5).
I'm aware that the immediate context was for Israel, but there are important transferable concepts that apply to me. God challenges me not to pull the covers over my head when Jesus whispers into the ears of my heart, “Get up. I've prepared breakfast for you. I'm here to eat with you” (Rev. 3:20; John 21:9,10). The Lord invites me to become alert and go to a summit meeting with Him to receive His agenda for today and the power to carry it out.
But one thing is for sure, my flesh is reluctant to cooperate. Literally, the older I get, the harder it is to get out of bed in the morning. My body acts paralyzed and my aches and pains are real. I feel as if I've become physically challenged! The doctor may diagnose it as “sacroiliac joint dysfunction,” but I know it has a spiritual dimension too. It's my choice whether to obey the Lord joyfully or ignore Him. The Lord offers a hand to help me up through the energizing of the Holy Spirit as I lean on Him.
It's a good thing I don't live back in the biblical times—Jesus might say, “Arise! Take up your bed and walk!” I would have a hard time hoisting my queen size bed and mattress on my back!