I met Irene this weekend. I met her in Minnesota… unexpected of all places, amidst the business of the downtown Minneapolis corporate universe. I went up there for a conference with my dad over the last few days. She was there attending the conference too. I first ran into her at the conference cafe outside of the bookstore. Needless to say, it was love at first sight. She took my breath away… she sent my world spinning, she immediately gave me hope that I hadn’t felt in a long time. I want to tell you about how “beautiful” she was, but I fear that to say that she is beautiful would be to fail to give her justice, like trying to say the ocean is big. Ever since that first encounter, I couldn’t stop thinking about her. It seemed like no matter where I went, she was all over the place…I’d run into her while walking from our hotel across the Skyways to the convention center, I’d see her sitting near us during the main sessions. We even found ourselves in the same elevator one time. Irene had a demeanor about her, where even though everyone else seemed to be hurrying to their skyscrapers and jobs, or rushing toward the next session, she had a stroll that spoke contentment, comfort, fulfillment, and freedom…I noticed it immediately.
Its funny how you meet someone when you least expect it. The conference was all about prayer. I’d been listening as one of the speakers told stories about answered prayer and the adventure of what a life of dependancy on God looks like. I’d been listening to stories about Robert Murray McCheyne, a Scottish preacher who died at the age of 29 but whose legacy lives and inspires today… how he’d spend 4 hours a day pouring himself out in prayer before God. I read a book in my hotel room by E. M. Bounds about how our lives and our leadership is completely devoid of any kind of power unless we are constantly on our knees before God. While being barraged with the message that I am absolutely, totally dependent on God… that’s where I met her.
I’d even been praying myself. A lot. About raw stuff… not prayers filled with programmed phrases, nor prayers about things that don’t matter, but prayers about depression, pain, loneliness, isolation, and anger. I prayed prayers of repentance from sinful fixations I’ve allowed to dominate my life. I prayed my pain to God, my fears to God, my insecurities to God, my frustrations to God, and my failures to God. I prayed small prayers… that I would win the iPad at the drawing (I didn’t), that there would be a Caribou coffee around the next corner (there was). I prayed big prayers… send-people-into-the-harvest, raise up a generation of leaders kind of prayers.
Irene, “eirene” is the Greek word for “peace.” “Present your requests to God… and the PEACE of God which transcends all understanding will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.” The promise of the New Testament is that when you pray God gives you peace. I’m not sure when or why it happened, but sometime in the last few days I have sensed a huge weight being lifted from my shoulders. I feel peace, for the first time in a long time. I feel contentment and rest that I can’t explain apart from God answering my prayers for healing and hope. I’m energized and reminded that there is something unexplainable about prayer … that its God’s way of unleashing his power, healing, and peace in a person’s life.
Do you know Irene?
Can’t wait to introduce you to her.