One of my favorite books growing up, like many of my friends, and I’m confident countless other girls around the world was, “Are you there God? it’s me, Margaret,” by Judy Blume. It outlined the struggle of a pre-teen girl as she navigated the complexities of understanding God, as the product of a Christian mother and Jewish father. What was overwhelming evident to me however, was her struggle through the growing pains of the development of her body, and witnessing the development of bodies around her, particularly, what we might deem today as her “freenemies.” Curiously, I find myself more than 30+ years later, navigating struggle, further exploring faith and still seeking God, sometimes feeling the need to remind Him of who I am, you know, in case he’s forgot.
Funny thing is, God never forgets, but I sure am guilty of feeling like He has. When the struggle of life becomes overwhelmingly and apparently in the favor of someone else, in particular someone who has drawn a line in the sand in opposition to you, it feels necessary to remind God of the number of times you attended Sunday School; or how many ministries you’ve been a part of; the instances whereby you could have spoken up and shut a person down, but instead elected to chill; you get the point. To be sure, our laundry list may be true, and as we bring our historical evidence to the feet of God in true Hezekiah fashion, He may indeed add years of life, but it may be entangled with the continuance of navigating our personal trauma or even that of another.
Amidst a prolonged and difficult trial, I, Stephanie Margaret, must seek refuge in my Creator. That means that no matter what fiery darts are thrown my way, I am covered! And while I’m under His protection, the only way I can be spiritually and emotionally safe is to remain in constant communication with Him. In Luke 18:1, we are instructed to always pray. The character in the book, Margaret, had no problem with this, and neither should we. Prayer as I learned through the years may not look the same for everyone, but for me, the constant communication occurs in the traditional state that I learned as a child, on my knees, and as I matured, while I drive, throughout my day, in a difficult meeting, silently, through listening and on my face in those times that I need God like my next breath.
As a child, I found the challenges of development and change that Margaret navigated to be insurmountable. As an adult, I realize that God grants us challenges that He equips us to manage. At 11, it was my period, at 45, it was my hysterectomy. Different challenge, same God! Through it all, I am grateful that the Creator, is readily available at any time to listen to my rant, to love on me despite what is being said around me, or how I may have contributed to a problem, and hold me up through the trampling of others through their words and actions. Indeed, He is a very present help in the time of trouble!
One of my fondest memories during my childhood was when my Aunt Margaret, who I’m named after would come to visit from Kansas City. She was a tall and stout woman, with a booming voice. She was a combination of kind and sassy, and most importantly for me, she loved God! In the morning, she would sing praises to Him. She had a robust voice and in our apartment, it resembled that of Mahalia Jackson. There was no doubt that when she opened her mouth, and sang from the pit of her belly, she told God who He was. You see, as I have matured through trial, I have come to the realization that it is so much more paramount that I spend my time and energy reminding God of who He is rather than myself. Forget what I’ve done, how many times I’ve bridled my tongue, how many times I’ve ministered in dance, how many times I was generous or kind to those who were heaping coals of hate in my face, or whatever I did despite someone else’s bitterness, envy, jealously, unaddressed historical issues. Who cares?! No, in the time of trouble, I choose to use my voice to remind God of who He is! Are you there God? It’s me, Stephanie Margaret! I want to remind you that you said in your Word, that you sent your son so that I may have life, and that more abundantly (John 10:10); you said that as I delight myself in you, you would give me the desires of my heart (Psalm 37:4); you said though an host should encamp against me, my heart shall not fear: though war should rise against me, in this will I be confident (Psalm 27:3); you said be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the LORD your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you (Deuteronomy 31:6); you said Cast your cares on the LORD and he will sustain you; he will never let the righteous be shaken (Psalm 55:22). Tell God who He is and watch Him work! That’s why we are told in Exodus 14:13, “And Moses said unto the people, Fear ye not, stand still, and see the salvation of the LORD, which he will shew to you to day: for the Egyptians whom ye have seen to day, ye shall see them again no more for ever! No matter what “it” is, God will take you out with a high hand! And He does so, because that is who He has promised himself to be. God responds to His Word, not ours. Big trials? Big God! As long as we are on this earth, we will be stretched through development and challenge. And guess what? We’ve got what it takes.
Are you there God? It’s me Stephanie Margaret. I just want to tell you thank you! Peace to Judy Blume.