Thursday, June 16, 2011

When God says No

I tend to pray. A Lot.  I pray every night with Beth before she goes to bed. I try to pray while I'm lying in bed, before I go to sleep. And all day long, I'm offering "breath" prayers, about things both mundane and glorious.  For example, today, we had a sun break, so I thanked God for seeing the blue sky again. 

"This is the day which the Lord has made; 
we will be full of joy and delight in it." - Psalm 118:24

Lately, I've been praying for something big.  I try to stay away from "I want" prayers, but they always creep in, and this is one of them.  I believe that it's aligned with God's will, and will give me a chance to sow his seeds more widely.  Having said that, I'm pretty self aware, and part of this prayer is selfish and in answer to some of my own pain.  And for this particular prayer, it sure seems like God is saying "No".  

Over the years, I've had lots of misguided "big" prayers, and when I heard God saying "No", I railed against Him.  Much like Jacob, I wrestled with God, but the funny thing is, I never really lost the battle.  However, I was always humbled, and His will was ALWAYS done...

So Jacob was left alone, and a man wrestled with him till daybreak. 
When the man saw that he could not overpower him, 
he touched the socket of Jacob's hip 
so that his hip was wrenched as he wrestled with the man. 
Then the man said, "Let me go, for it is daybreak." 
But Jacob replied, "I will not let you go unless you bless me." 
The man asked him, "What is your name?" 
"Jacob," he answered. 
Then the man said, 
"Your name will no longer be Jacob, but Israel, because you have struggled with
 God and with men and have overcome." 
Jacob said, "Please tell me your name." 
But he replied, "Why do you ask my name?" 
Then he blessed him there. 
So Jacob called the place Peniel, saying, "It is because I saw God face to face, 
and yet my life was spared." The sun rose above him as he passed Peniel, and he was limping because of his hip. (Genesis 32:24-31) 

Like Jacob, I'd wrestle with God, often not realizing who it was that I wrestled with, but I have always come out of if blessed, but rarely in the way I expected.  

I've come to realize that I thought I heard God saying "No", when what he was really saying was "Patience, son, I have something better."  Every one of these misguided prayers was answered, and every one was better in the light of God's will, both for me, and for everyone involved.

One by one He took them from me,
All the things I valued most,
Until I was empty-handed;
Every glistening toy was lost.

And I walked earth’s highway, grieving,
In my rags and poverty.
Till I heard His voice inviting,
“Lift those empty hands to Me!”

So I held my hands toward Heaven,
And He filled them with a store
Of His transcendent riches
Till they could contain no more.

And at last I comprehended
With my stupid mind and dull,
That God COULD not pour His riches
Into hands already full.

Martha Snell Nicholson, “Treasures,” Ivory Palaces 
(Wilmington, Calif: Martha Snell Nicholson, 1946), 67

It's hard to remember, in the midst of pain, that God always has a better plan for us.  I've never been good with patience, but I must find a way to cheerfully endure until His plan is revealed and unfolds.

My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing. (James 1:2-4)

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