Pray When You Are Hemmed In

Why did God curse Eve with loneliness and heartache, an emptiness that nothing would be able to fill? Wasn’t her life going to be hard enough out there in the world, banished from the Garden that was her true home, her only home, never able to return? It seems unkind. Cruel, even.

He did it to save her. For as we all know personally, something in Eve’s heart shifted at the Fall. Something sent its roots down deep into her soul — and ours — that mistrust of God’s heart, that resolution to find life on our own terms. So God has to thwart her. In love, He has to block her attempts until, wounded and aching, she turns to Him and Him alone for her rescue.

Therefore I will block her path with thornbushes; I will wall her in so she cannot find her way. She will chase after her lovers but not catch them; she will look for them but not find them. — Hosea 2:6-7

Jesus has to thwart us too — thwart our self-redemptive plans, our controlling and our hiding, thwart the ways we are seeking to fill the ache within us. Otherwise, we would never fully turn to Him for our rescue. Oh, we might turn to Him for our “salvation,” for a ticket to Heaven when we die. We might turn to Him even in the form of Christian service, regular church attendance, a moral life. But inside, our hearts remain broken and captive and far from the One who can help us.

And so you will see the gentle, firm hand of God in a woman’s life hemming her in. He’ll make what once was a great job miserable, if it was in her career that she found shelter. He’ll bring hardship into her marriage, even to the breaking point, if it was in marriage she sought her salvation. Wherever it is we have sought life apart from Him, He disrupts our plans, our “way of life” that is not life at all. Listen to Susan’s story:

Things at work have been hard. It caused me to go to my posture of defensiveness. I wanted to say, “You don’t understand — you don’t know my story. I have to defend myself because no one else will.” I grew up with an alcoholic father and a mother who suffers extreme emotional problems. At a very young age (8 or so) I became the one who when my father beat my mother would step in to defend her, and when my mother would berate my father I was the one who would step in to defend him. Up until I was 16 I took all the verbal abuse my mother had thrown at me, but there was this day that I decided not to take it anymore. My father told me I needed to go back in there and take it. This arrow pierced my heart so deeply that the walls of my heart became impenetrable. I’ve not allowed this wound to be touched for many, many years.

God has shown me that because of the defensiveness I buried my truly feminine heart which longs so deeply to be pursued and fought for, to be seen as beautiful, to be tender and kind, to feel deeply. He has shown me that by bringing this into my marriage, I have not allowed Dave the opportunity to fight for me. For this I am grieved. God asked me to repent of this to Dave and take the risk of being vulnerable once again. I stand now in this risky place of vulnerability, with a bleeding heart waiting and praying. Every day I must choose to lay down my defensiveness and allow the healing balm of Jesus to attend to my wound and allow Him to be my God, my Strength, and my Defender.

He told me that I didn’t need to defend myself anymore, that was His job, He is my Defender and Advocate. Would I let Him be that for me? I said yes. There was a huge weight lifted off that I can’t fully explain.

Turning from the Ways You’ve Sought to Save Yourself

Change a few of the details and you have my story — and yours. We construct a life of safety (I will not be vulnerable there) and find some place to get a taste of being enjoyed or at least of being “needed.” Our journey toward healing begins when we repent of those ways, lay them down, let them go. They’ve been a royal disaster anyway. As Frederick Buechner says,

To do for yourself the best that you have it in you to do — to grit your teeth and clench your fists in order to survive the world at its harshest and worst — is, by that very act, to be unable to let something be done for you and in you that is more wonderful still. The trouble with steeling yourself against the harshness of reality is that the same steel that secures your life against being destroyed secures your life also against being opened up and transformed. (The Sacred Journey)

God comes to us and asks, Will you let Me come for you? Not only does He thwart, but at the same time He calls to us as He did to our friend Susan, Set it down. Set it down. Turn from your ways to Me. I want to come for you.

Therefore I am now going to allure her; I will lead her into the desert and speak tenderly to her. — Hosea 2:14

To enter the journey toward the healing of your feminine heart, all it requires is a, Yes. Okay. A simple turning in the heart. Like the Prodigal we wake one day to see that the life we’ve constructed is no life at all. We let desire speak to us again; we let our hearts have a voice, and what the voice usually says is, This isn’t working. My life is a disaster. Jesus — I’m sorry. Forgive me. Please come for me.

So begin here, pray just this:

Jesus, I give myself to You. I give my life to you. I surrender me — totally and completely. Forgive all my sins, my hurtful ways. Forgive all my self-protecting and all of my chasing after other comforters. Come for me now, dear Lord. Come and be my Savior, my Healer, my Love.

Excerpted with permission from Captivating by John and Stasi Eldredge, copyright John Eldredge and Stasi Eldredge.

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Your Turn

Will you pray that prayer against self-protecting and chasing after other comforts with us today? If you are hemmed in, it’s for a beautiful reason… Jesus loves you! Come share your thoughts with us on our blog. We want to hear from you!

Stasi Eldredge

A teacher and conference speaker, Stasi Eldredge leads the women’s ministry of Ransomed Heart, a ministry devoted to helping people discover the heart of God. She is the coauthor of Captivating and Love & War with her husband, John. Her books have sold nearly 3 million copies. Stasi loves the joy and freedom that come from knowing Jesus and longs to see others come to know him more deeply. She also loves getting lost in a good novel; walking in the woods near her home in Colorado Springs; and sharing life with her family, her friends, and her God.

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