Unintentional Eavesdropping

Cornelius stared at him in fear. “What is it, Lord?” he asked. The angel answered, “Your prayers and gifts to the poor have come up as a memorial offering before God.” Acts 10:4

As I flipped the pages of the gold dotted pages I noted how pretty this shiny spring Bible study book is. It is mostly black with a pop of gold. Faith and Fire are melded together and this study is pretty, but to my sometimes struggling self it is hard. I’ve noted questions I have, written plenty in the margins, and find myself repeatedly having to take a break, walk away and ponder for a hot minute, or ten

I’d written this statement, “Elijah means ‘Yahweh is God,’ what are people saying about you in your absence?” as one I’d been pondering.

I think about this a lot and in the days of late I’ve really been pondering it. 

I was at work and doing just that when I heard a conversation. I tried not to listen and made an attempt to walk away. A little feeling of panic welled up within me, I don’t like to hear people talk about other people. I feel responsible if I’m hearing it and do nothing. I looked around for a way of escape, afraid I would hear something I shouldn’t. I was trapped. I had a time-sensitive task before me. I wondered if I could shove cotton balls in my ears. I looked side to side, no cotton balls. Nothing with which to dull my sense of hearing. My panic was escalating and was manifested in irrationality. I’d have to sit, quickly finish the task, and hope I didn’t hear anything I would be responsible for.

“You know her. Annie. Annie Persons.” I continued with my calculations, head bent. I thought to myself. Nope. I don’t.

“Yeah I do but I hadn’t seen her in a while.”

“Well you know Annie Persons is old, she kinda real old. You remember? She used to just stand in a corner over there or somewhere and pray. She’d be praying all the time. “

The conversation turned from the Annie Persons person but I was stuck, struck really. There are many ways one can be remembered in life. Epitaphs as numerous as the souls to whom they are attached, but here I’d just heard an epitaph like I’d never heard. An epitaph that I ain’t even gonna lie, I was a little jealous of.

The conversation turned from the Annie Persons person but I was stuck, struck really. There are many ways one can be remembered in life. Epitaphs as numerous as the souls to whom they are attached, but here I’d just heard an epitaph like I’d never heard. An epitaph that I ain’t even gonna lie, I was a little jealous of.

She stands and prays. “She’d be praying all the time.” I didn’t know Annie Persons from Adam’s House-cat but I knew this about her, she prayed. And evidently she prayed without ceasing. She was truly known for her prayer life.  The shiny spring Bible study book question, came back to me, 

“What are people saying about you in your absence?” 

Truth is I figure they’re talking about how I look or what I make, maybe my circumstances or my family. Most likely they’re talking about what I wear or if I’ve got it all together or not, the state of my housekeeping, the state of my finances, if I’m funny or not so much. I figure they’re saying I’m alright, nice, or I serve or write or I’m married to a weatherman, but I can guarantee you I’ve never once thought they were talking about my prayer life. Based on my choices and behavior one would think folks spend an infinite amount of time studying my outward appearance, where I am gonna each lunch, or the study habits of my offspring. I have neglected to remember and to behave in such a way that serves as a reminder that I am called to be set apart and in essence marked by that very thing, a life of prayer.

Here I was overhearing a conversation about a person marked by prayer and it had never crossed my mind that in my absence that is what I want to be known for. It was those slight pangs of jealousy that made me realize that.

I was glad that there were no cotton balls to be found and that in the end my proximity and preoccupations forced me to sit and to listen, to overhear what was being said in the absence of another and to reevaluate exactly what it is I want people to remember and to talk about in my absence.

Pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people. Ephesians 6:18

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