"In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans."
In his book “It Worked For Me: In Life and Leadership” Colin Powell outlines some strategies and truths he learned in his storied career in the military and in Washington.
In chapter 26 titled “After Thirty Days, You Own the Sheets” he describes the three-envelope method. It says that you can blame everyone until day 31 and after that you have to take ownership. The outgoing commander puts together three envelopes for the new commander to open when disaster strikes.
And disaster will strike.
The first envelope simply says “Blame me.”
After the first doesn’t work any longer he opens the second and it says “Reorganize.”
When reorganizing and blaming no longer work, the new commander opens the third envelope which says “Prepare three envelopes!”
We don’t get three envelopes with our faith. We get something much better and more consistent (and not misleading). We get the Holy Spirit.
The author of Romans is reminding us that the Holy Spirit lifts us up in our weakness, at our worst, and when we need it the most. Even when we don’t have the words for what we need, Jesus is interceding for us, deciphering our cries and pains.
My sister recently lost her job and had to start the difficult process of finding another job.
She applied to jobs in North Dakota, here in La Junta, and even back in Maine. Days turned into weeks and weeks into months without any word. I prayed feverishly even though I didn’t know exactly what to pray for.
Do I pray for her just to get a job even if she doesn’t like it because she needs the money, or do I pray that God provides a job that will give her meaning and purpose even if it takes longer?
Finally, she got an interview for a job she didn’t quite want but would pay the bills. She was relieved. After waiting a week or two, she finally got a call back. They decided to offer the job to another person; a person who better fit the position with their talents and qualifications.
Wow, thanks for calling and telling me that, she thought. However, that wasn’t the only reason they were calling. They had been thinking about creating a position but didn’t quite know exactly they needed; until they met my sister.
They called to tell her that although they weren’t offering her the one position, they were creating a position and would like to offer it to her! God is good ALL the time! She will start this coming Monday and I am sure it will be an absolute blessing for her and my nephew.
Perhaps you are in challenges and wish you had three envelopes telling you what to do because you can’t even figure out where to begin or even what to pray for. Remember our scripture today that reminds us that Jesus “intercedes for us through our wordless groans.” I pray that you feel calm wash over your fears and anxieties as Jesus takes your struggles and turns them into blessings.
May it be so,
Rev. Lou Ward
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La Junta United Methodist Church
601 San Juan Ave
La Junta, CO 81050
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