Retreats are awesome. The mere practice of getting out of a routine can be refreshing in itself; coupling the break with brothers and sisters seeking God practically quadruples the effect of getting away. And then on top of all that, receiving indirect lessons of the faith through the people around you is like, well, you get the idea. This weekend was an awesome weekend.
One man in particular really stood out to me. He might not like me writing exaggerated things about him (like the time he took on a whole biker gang with a single punch), but whatever. He’s cool and deserves the stories.
Riding up with Ethan was a learning experience in and of itself. I first learned that taxicab drivers make a lot of money in a single year. Sure there are a lot of hours spent sitting down and maybe a few too many drunks to deal with on a single night, but they seem to pay out. Ethan ended up buying into the business and now owns a good portion of Eugene’s cabs.
How he got there, though, is an amazing story; one that I don’t think I could fully cover in 100 blogs or even a 1,500-page text book. But I think it’d be cool to write like a three volume set about the guy and then translate it into as many languages as humanly possible because the guy has been to like 60 different countries (legends say within one month…). The first story I picked up on, though, was the story he carried with him everywhere he went: his habit of praying before making any decisions (and yes, I mean “any”; I overheard him whispering a prayer about what kind of gas to get before we hit the road).
When I now read Paul’s exhortation to the Thessalonians to “pray without ceasing,” I now think of Ethan. While he was talking about what he’s going to do next after owning Oregon’s Taxi (at least the vans), he said that he was praying about it. He’s got a few ideas with what he wants to do, so he definitely needs it. And given his history of praying and receiving an answer, which I learned from a mutual friend, Nathan, I think Ethan will be alright.
Instead of riding back with Ethan, I decided to mix things up and ride back with two girls I hardly ever talked to during Cross Training. Well, that and there were a lot of guys in Ethan’s van (3 of which were defensive linemen for Oregon). Even if all the guys showered that day, riding back in a girl’s car is much easier on the nostrils.
While riding back, I started talking to Nathan about how I now want to be a cab driver when I grow up and how I was inspired by Ethan. One of the first things Nathan mentioned about Ethan was how often the man prays – and gets a relatively quick answer. Nathan said that Ethan once prayed for land to buy over in eastern Oregon and within a span of two days received a random offer from someone he happened to run into. Whether or not that’s true; Ethan prays and God gives results.
One major thing I found lacking in my walk during the introspective moments that retreats usually provide was my prayer life. And what I mean by this isn’t merely the number of times I pray or even praying on a regular basis; I mean praying with the faith that my supplications are not only heard, but will be answered as well.
I usually pray at least once or twice a day (usually in my morning shower and the final five or six minutes before I go to bed). But rarely, at least recently, have I prayed with the childlike faith that what I ask for will be answered. For whatever reason, I roll through my mental-list of prayers and hop out of the shower or lay down in bed. It’s a terrible habit and I think on some level, it’s kept me from truly engaging God. I mean, I talk to Him, yes, but after saying all that I wanted to say, I’m not in the habit of listening for a response.
No, I don’t mean God literally speaking to me (although that would be helpful [and freaky] at times), but letting me know in some way that He has heard my prayer and has given or will give an answer. Right off the bat in Luke is a story about prayers being heard and answered (1:13). I know it’s not in an angel’s nature to drop by every day or even every once in a while to say that God has heard us and is in the process of answering (and I wonder if we’d really believe them if they did), but within this story is the implication that Luke was an avid and frequent and faithful pray-er.
God is a God who wants our trust, especially when we’re entering a foggy patch on the path of life. He wants us to trust Him that when we fall He’ll be there to catch us. Or when we have a thousand different ideas about what we’re going to do with our degrees or whom we’re going to marry, that He’ll give us some direction and guidance. He’s a loving and good Father who wants the best for us, no matter what. A girl named Melanie told me this weekend that what keeps her going is a little, repeated phrase, “God is faithful, God is faithful.”
I know; all of what I’ve written here can basically be summed up in Melanie’s personal phrase. But I think seeing God’s faithfulness working through Ethan (and particularly because of Ethan’s faithful prayers) was the lesson I needed to learn. Melanie delivered God’s thesis statement for the weekend and Ethan’s testimony gave the bulk of the essay culminating in a very persuasive and promising lesson.
Prayer’s power is unimaginable when it comes to faithfully directing those prayers to God. Barren wombs suddenly give birth, starving thousands suddenly receive their fill from a mere dozen loaves of bread, and the dead come to life by faithful and frequent, God-trusting prayers.
When I die, I want to be known like Ethan is known to me; a man of prayer.