I awoke this morning with a vague sense of futility. I’ve got a full schedule today, more on my mind than my energy can handle. What does it matter? So what if I work hard, get the urgent things off my plate, talk to a few more people about their messed up lives? I’ll go to bed tonight with more work ahead of me, more urgent things to take care of, more troubled people who want to talk tomorrow.


Life sometimes seems like nothing more than work, pressure, and problems that never really go away. Nothing changes, not really. What does anything I do matter? What does anything matter? In the thick gray cloud that enveloped me this morning, I prayed. It seemed the right thing to do. A transcript of the words that ran through my head would look pretty close to this:


Why do I have to feel this way? I hate it. Am I mishandling my life that badly? Am I that far from you, God? I know I’ll feel better after coffee, but God, I want to make it because of you. Why won’t you meet me? Why can’t you make yourself known to me in a way that gets me going more than caffeine?


I lay there for half an hour. I thought of Scripture. Okay, that’s where God speaks. Let me listen for his voice in his Word. I sent my mind as best I could through each book of the Old Testament, then the New, searching for a phrase, a sentence, a story, a thought that would prime the pump. Up to Ezekiel, nothing.

Then I remembered a phrase from one of Ezekiel’s later chapters: “Where the river flows, everything will live.”


I could feel something move within me, a passion rising from hidden depths. Then the cloud grew suddenly darker. The flow stopped. I got up. I looked at the clock.


It was 4:30. Rachael was still sleeping. I was careful not to wake her, though I longed for her company. I stumbled toward the bathroom in the dark.


A few minutes later, I was back in our bedroom, standing by our bed wondering whether to crawl back in or to get dressed and get going. Coffee, the Denver Post, a Bible passage, then phone calls, correspondence, work. I’ll be fine.


I felt entitled to another hour of warmth beneath the covers, but afraid at the same time. Would my mind just spin? Would I sink to those familiar depths of desperate frustration? Or would I meet God?


I was afraid I wouldn’t, but I knew I wouldn’t if I grabbed coffee and raced headlong into my day. I’d make it, but not because of God. So I climbed in, lay face up on the pillow, and stared. Sometimes I kneel when I pray. More often I stare at the ceiling. My conversation with God resumed. It was still one way:


God, I can’t stand it. So many distractions, so much to do, so little energy. And immobilizing confusion. That gray-haired old man I saw yesterday as I was driving, the slouched-over guy— must have been past 80—with a white cane feeling his way across the street. God, he reminded me of my father in his last year. What’s it all about? I hate it when I hear a pro football player say it’s all about winning. That old man can’t win. Does he know you? And if he does, what difference are you making in his life?