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A week or so ago, my sweet hubby and I ran into The Family Christian Bookstore to pick up something I wanted.

With shutters on my eyes I walked past all the things that tempt me, went straight to the back desk and picked up what I was looking for.

I was feeling proud and a mite haughty walking to the check out counter with ONLY one book. I’m a book junkie and it’s hard for me to walk into this store and come out only with what I went to pick up.

But as I’m standing in line to pay, there in my peripheral vision stood the $5 shelf. Uh oh.

Temptation and weakness overtook me and I found myself picking up The Prayer Box~A Novel.

“These things I do, this melody of an ordinary day, keep the hours in order…Strange to think of that. The song of an ordinary life. Mine would be in these letters to You.”  

The book had me right there in two sentences. The story is beautiful and lyrical and full of treasure.

After Miss Iola Anne Poole passes away a young women goes to clean out her house and discovers boxes filled with letters to God. Prayer boxes. Miss Iola’s history was woven together through her many prayers over a span of 91 years, making for a beautiful story worthy of your time and if your like me, a highlighter or two.

Going back twenty years or more I too have kept a prayer journal. A place where I can pour out my soul to God. A place where I keep record of the still small whispers stirring in my soul. My favorite scriptures. My worries. My fears. My praises.

As I fill one up, I place it on a shelf. Chronological order, no less! (smile)

And I guess if someone ever wanted to weave together my story, you would find it in those journals.

Until you get to the empty space. A section of journals with empty pages.

Pen laid down.

My Bible placed in a drawer. Eventually packed away.

A time where I had no words. A time where I had closed up my pages to God. Shut off my heart. A time where I not only turned my back on Him, I also turned my face away.

In The Message, Jeremiah 32:33 says it like this, “They’ve turned their backs on me~won’t even look Me in the face.”

That’s where I was.

It was a dark time.

The pit.

It was five years before God turned my heart of stone into a heart of flesh. Five years before He breathed life back into my dry bones.

Five years before I sent my husband to the attic to dig out my favorite Bible.

Five years of empty pages before I picked up my pen again.

I want you to understand, God did not put me there. It was my own doing. My own anger and bitterness.

An accumulation of things I let pile up between me and Him.

Things I held tightly clenched in my hand.

A hurt so bad, instead of running into His Loving arms, I ran away.

There are lessons I learned from that five years hidden away from God.

When you run, He will come after you with a relentless pursuit.

He can and does clean up my ugly messes. Yours too.

When you allow Him to pull you out of the pit, He does it with such tenderness. Your heart will shatter into a thousand pieces all over again, for what you have missed.

He covers my empty spaces with His Grace.

And when He put me back together again, I was better for it. His light shining through the cracks and crevices of  all my broken places, beckoning to others. Drawing them to Him.

A knowing. A knowing of a place I never want to go again. A place where I can’t look My Father in His Face. A place mired down in mud. And slime. And sin.

If you are there. If you are in that place, I urge you to cry out to Him. Allow Him to tenderly cover you with His Grace.

His forgiveness.

His Mercy.

“I waited patiently for the Lord to help me,

and he turned to me and heard my cry.

He lifted me out of the pit of despair,

out of the mud and the mire.

He set my feet on solid ground

and steadied me as I walked along.

He has given me a new song to sing,

a hymn of praise to our God.

Many will see what he has done and be amazed. 

They will put their trust in the Lord.”

Psalm 40:1-3 nlt

Graced by God

Tammy Mashburn