I just got back from Israel, and l am still jet-lagged. The kind that even that third cup of morning coffee can’t touch.
Usually, I hide away and wait until I get over it. But I want to share this life-changing moment with you before the New Year.
Ironically, this moment happened before we even landed.
At cruising altitude, I witnessed the power prayer has to overcome shame and multiply joy.
An (Un)orthodox Flight
On an eleven-hour flight to Israel, solitaire and movies can only get you so far.
Usually, I track the passage of time by the meals and drinks served and when they turn the lights down in the cabin.
(I always get this weird feeling that next, the flight attendant will come by with a blanket and a cot from my old preschool and tell me it’s nap time…)
It turns out there are other ways to mark the passage of time: prayer.
Seemingly in unison, many orthodox Jewish men began to stand up.
They flipped open small prayer books and began to pray (out loud!) right there in the middle of the plane.
Apparently, it was prayer time.
I am an introvert. On flights, I stick to myself. I don’t like to make a scene. The most I do is get up every once in a while to stretch my legs.
In short, this was WAY out of my comfort zone. I felt awkward for them.
Despite all the feelings and surprise, as I listened to their ancient prayers, biblical scenes came alive before me:
Daniel praying three times a day even if it would kill him.
Is this what his betrayers heard?
King David, cold and alone on a mountainside as the sunsets over his father’s sheep.
Is this what the psalms sounded like?
Fixing our Eyes On Jesus
They stood right in front of me, eyes to heaven, sideburns gently rocking to the rhythm of their chant.
These men literally stood for God, ignoring all the shame.
I had no idea what they were saying, but their prayers were like music: a story without words.
The meaning was clear. Do you want to overcome shame and pray with that boldness, Andy? Lift up your eyes!
Those men didn’t see me. They weren’t looking around to assess whether they were too much for the people around them.
They looked to heaven and saw that God was too much, too wonderful, too loving, too majestic, not to pray.
I can’t help but remember the scripture:
“Fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he
endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.”
The day Jesus was crucified, He fixed his eyes on the joy of being with His Father and redeeming His bride.
The shame was no match for the joy He had fixed His eyes on.
Remember, this is the day He was most broken: tormented and stripped naked, carrying his own cross.
There isn’t just beauty in the broken; there is a joy that overcomes shame.
Who we look upon determines our joy. The joy that comes from God is always stronger than shame.
In the coming new year, how do we fix our eyes on Jesus and overcome shame? There is no ten-step spiritual plan.
Simply let the eyes of our heart turn heavenward in prayer.