The statue caught my eye as I neared the end of the escalator. A marble figure with arm outstretched, gazing upward. This was that rare sculpture that seems so alive it makes you forget it is carved from marble. I watched this sculpture as I rode to the top of the escalator, memorizing as many details as possible, and trying to define the allure of this work of art.
Several months ago I prayed that God would help me to know and understand Him more. I admit that I carefully specified that I was not looking for experience in suffering, just in case. I’ve learned to be careful what I pray for. No, I was finally admitting to myself that God and I were on decent speaking terms, but not much more. I knew that God was there. Near enough to reach out and talk to, to call on Him when I needed help, or just wanted to thank Him. But so often, I just…didn’t. I’d struggle through on my own, ignoring the ache inside. This would have gone on for longer, but God started nudging me. A sister loaned me a book. A pastor preached a sermon that seemed to be written just for me. One day I turned to the Old Testament, and read the story of Jacob, who wrestled with God, not letting Him go until he blessed him. That is why he was given the name Israel, meaning one who has wrestled or struggled with God. There is a reason that we are commanded to seek the Lord with all our heart. Not halfheartedly. Not fearfully. But with everything we have. Sometimes this means wrestling with God, laying out our struggles and frustrations and hopes and dreams and anger and demanding an answer. Not giving up, not letting go, and waiting. For as long as it takes. For this is when God meets us. Later that week I read the story of Elijah, who fled to the mountains after Jezebel put a price on his head. He hid out, burnt out, angry, and alone. God send a whirlwind, an earthquake, and a fire, but did not speak through any of these. His answer to Elijah came in a gentle whisper that resounded in the sudden stillness after the fire had passed. I doubt Elijah would have heard God if He had simply spoken. His anger and self-pity had blinded him. Sometimes God uses the events of our lives to uproot us enough so that we can truly hear Him.
I started thanking God for the many blessings that I had already. I began to ask Him for the things that I needed each day, whether it was finding a language teacher, providing a home group, or simply getting to the tram stop on time. And He started answering. Sometimes immediately. Sometimes before I had finished praying. But always answering in a way that left no doubt that He had heard me. He has provided for us during each step in our move to Prague, and I know He will continue to do so. In Isaiah, God’s promise to His redeemed people is that He will no longer hide Himself, but that they will hear a voice beside them, saying ‘this is the way, walk in it’. I know now that God is indeed walking beside me, watching over me, guiding me, and reminding me each day that He will provide. He will keep nudging me to pray, to bring my concerns to Him first, whether that nudge come from a good friend or the sermon this morning that focused exclusively on the importance of daily prayer.
In 1978, eleven years before the end of communism, a Czech artist created a set of three statues: Faith, Hope, and Love. At a time when religion was suppressed and the era of communism seemed interminable, he chose to commemorate these three Christian virtues. One of those statues stands inside the Malostranska metro station. We pass it every Sunday morning on our way to church. The name of this statue is Hope.