By Shaun Nepstad
Tears streamed down my face while my body was folded up under my desk like origami. I had just preached my heart out that Sunday, and I was exhausted and overwhelmed. Earlier that week, I had been teaching boldly, and now I was hiding from the world, hoping no one would find me. I felt at the end of my rope, and that desperation had me crying out to God: “I can’t do this anymore! Find someone else. I’m done!”
Under that desk, I felt pressed into a corner. No way out. No hope. I was in a huge dip with what felt like a stagnant church, countless failed strategies, a long battle with my health, and detour after detour with our church location. I wanted so badly to quit. But I kept seeing the faces of the precious people in our congregation. Deep down, I knew there was still purpose for my life; I just wasn’t seeing it. At this particular moment, all I could see was the underside of my desk.
Have you been there? Are you there now? If you are, you’re not alone. I know things don’t look good now, but every person who has done anything great has had a season in a dip. But the dip is not your final destination. You may not be able to see a way out right now, and neither did I.
What do you do when you don’t know what to do? What do you do when the dream inside of you is not matching the reality that’s in front of you? It’s going to sound cliché and elementary, but oftentimes, we overcomplicate things. We’re willing to try the newest strategy, follow the latest teaching, hop on the trendiest spiritual bandwagon, but we roll our eyes at the basics. So, what did I do when my dream didn’t match the reality in front of me? We started a prayer meeting.
A simple prayer meeting was our plan, where a few people got together. I wish I could say it was amazing. It didn’t feel amazing at all. It felt awkward and a bit too late. At our first meeting, we had eight people total, and six were my family. They had to be there. We would gather once a week and we’d fumble through prayer. I banked on Scriptures like Jeremiah 33:3, where God said, “Call to me, and I will answer you; I will show you wonderful and marvelous things” (gnt). I told God, “I’m not seeing ‘wonderful and marvelous.’ I’m seeing mediocre at best. But I will take You at Your Word.”
In our prayer meetings, we would give praise to God. We’d spend time telling Him how much we love Him. We’d thank Him for what He’s already done. This part is huge. Thanking Him first changes your heart and how you approach Him. Remind yourself of everything He’s already given you. Grace. Mercy. Love. In our prayers, we’d tell Him what we needed help with. We’d make sure we were in line with what He wanted in the Bible, and then we’d thank Him in advance for coming through for us. I told God, “I can’t do this on my own! I need you. And I confess my dependence completely on you.”
Since that prayer meeting, God has shown us “wonderful and marvelous” things. And it was of that prayer meeting where God gave us strategy on how to build teams and opened up the right relationships to glean from. He healed my body, provided remarkable growth for the church and gave us a miracle building.
When you’re in the dip, praying will remind you that God is in control. He can walk with you through the dip. Where else are you going to turn when your child has walked away from you or God? What will help you hold on when you feel God has called you to a specific place, but it’s taking too long? What defense do you use when everyone around you is telling you it’s time to give up?
Prayer! Don’t hold it in. Don’t try to do it on your own. Prayer is just talking with God. So talk with Him. If you can talk, you can pray. He said He would answer and show you wonderful and marvelous things. Take Him at His Word.
Adapted from “Don’t Quit in the Dip” by Shaun Nepstad. Used with permission from Worthy Books, a division of Hachette Book Group, Inc.