When The Answer Is No

Earlier in the week I met with a group of friends when the conversation turned to prayer.  We began to discuss various aspects of prayer, especially requests to God that did not get answered according to what we asked.  We’ve all experienced those moments in life when we desire something so strongly that we beg God to make it happen.

There are those who will bargain with God, promising never to ask for another thing if just this one request will be met.  Of course, that’s assuming that we are troubling and annoying God with our pleas.  Our loving heavenly Father loves it when we come to Him with those things that concern us.  We don’t have to make a promise of never bothering Him again.  We are always welcome to come to Him.

Then there will be those who turn away from God altogether when what they ask  for does not come to them.  Their anger and disappointment pushes them away from the One who only answers out of His vast love.  As a Father, there will be times when He says “yes” to what we ask.  He knows that receiving what we ask will indeed bring about great joy.  Equally, there will be times when He says “no.”  He knows that receiving what we ask will bring trouble our way or that what we ask will not bring about the greatest joy.  At other times He will answer “wait.”  Waiting is rarely an easy thing for any of  us.  It’s like a child waiting for Christmas, hoping  that what they have desired will indeed be under the tree.  Even so, there are times when He will answer “wait” because receiving at a later time will bring about the greatest joy.

Our Heavenly Father is vastly concerned with your happiness.  Jesus begins His famous Sermon On The Mount with instruction on how to be happy.  Of course, in the Beatitudes or the Happy-tudes, He is addressing things in our spiritual worlds, but being spiritually happy spills over into our physical worlds and brings contentment in all things — the good and the difficult.

When we pay attention to our spiritual health, we then find that our emotional strength is stronger, our peace is unshattered, and our faith in our Father’s ways is secure.  When we pay attention to our spiritual self, asking the Holy Spirit to speak into our hearts, then we are ready for His answers to our prayers.  We will have a growing love and trust in our own hearts that allows Him to do as He sees best with our lives.  To live in such a manner is out of this world.  Ponder the following, a prayer of Jesus to His Father, concerning us:

“”I’m not asking You to take them out of the world, but to keep them safe from the evil one.  They do not belong to this world anymore than I do.  Make them holy by Your truth; teach them Your Word, which is truth.  Just as You sent me into the world,  I am sending them into the world.  And I give Myself as a sacrifice for them so they can be made holy by Your truth.”  John 17:15-19

 

Feeding Donkeys

Across the United States this has been a wild weather week of freezing temps, ice and snow in places not usually found.  It has snowed in Florida and in Alabama this morning it was 19F/-6C!  A true winter wonderland of ice!

I have a welcome assignment this week – feeding donkeys.  I talked my elderly neighbor into letting me, on these exceptionally cold winter mornings, be the one to go into the field and feed the donkeys.  I take a hammer with me to break the ice in their water trough.  Doing this is a great pleasure to me.

I have a usual time to feed the donkeys but once in a while I’m delayed just a bit.  Even so, the donkeys are waiting for me.  In the afternoons I have a time that I feed them slices of apple for an extra treat.  They know the time I’m usually there, but if I’m late, I still find them waiting at the gate.

Blackie our cat waits for me, too, no matter if I’m delayed.  Every evening I take special treats for Blackie around 7:00pm.  The other night it was 9:00pm when I gasped as I realized I had forgotten Blackie’s treats!  I grabbled the bag of his tasty morsels and opened the door.  There was our sweet cat, waiting calmly on top of his house, showing no distress that I was late.

I am warmed to the depths of my heart by these donkeys and our cat who obviously trust  that I will come through for them.  They trust that I will be there no matter the delay.  It’s amazing to me.    Once again, nature has reminded me of something so important: the beauty of trust.

Last week I wrestled with some feelings of stress and frustration, all because of having to wait on something.  This something, I know, is of God.  He is arranging something there is no doubt, but it’s not coming to pass within my desired time frame.  He is waiting!  Why?  I have no earthly idea but that’s not the point, is it?  My time is filled with possible mistake, while God’s timing is always perfect.  He is never too early and never too late.

This morning as I walked over the road to meet with my donkey friends, I smiled as I felt the slightest warmth of the sun’s rays streaking across the frozen ground, shining over the donkeys and over me.  I poured the grain onto their feed  trays and broke the water in the trough for them to drink.  It comfortingly occurred to me that these donkeys don’t know the exact moment I’m coming on the scene — but they know I’m coming, so they trust and they wait.

This may be the first morning I ever prayed, “Lord, help me to be more like a donkey.”

“I am confident I will see the Lord’s goodness while I am here in the land of the living.  Wait patiently for the Lord.  Be brave and courageous.  Yes,wait patiently for the Lord.”  Psalm 27: 13-14

 

The Beauty Of The Wait

The whole world seems to operate in a “hurry up” mode! When we know we want something, we want it now! It’s not just today’s world. Impatience has always been a part of human nature. There’s nothing wrong with the anticipation that comes from wanting something so badly that you can barely stand it. That’s the excitement! Remember when you were a kid thinking about Christmas? The wait was agonizing, but when the morning arrived, oh was it worth it! If your parents had gone ahead and given you your presents in November, Christmas morning wouldn’t have been nearly as much fun. We mustn’t forget the joy that comes with the waiting.

It’s the same in our spiritual world. We tell ourselves that we trust God’s timing, but would He please hurry up? It’s impossible to imagine the mess that we’d all be in if we got things immediately when we wanted them. Refusing to wait could even be a dangerous thing.

As an example, think of babies being born. Proud parents make ready, getting bedding, cribs, clothing, and toys ready for their new arrival. At times they can hardly wait, but it’s most advantageous when the full nine months are passed before a baby is born. Premature babies have such a struggle. Some survive the early birth; sadly, others do not.

It’s best if the birth takes place at the appropriate time because very important things are taking place during the wait. In week 7, the baby’s eyelids are forming. By week 9, the baby has ear lobes and his or her own set of fingerprints! In 5 months, the baby can hear, taste, smell, feel, and see shades of light. After 6 months the baby develops lungs. If birth begins to take place in the middle of any of the above, there are difficult, and often, grieving consequences.

It’s the same in the birthing of God’s plans for our lives. We humans want to either rush things we hope for, or we want to delay things that make us afraid. We have a natural fear of the unknown, but never forget that God’s ways are always, without exception, planned with our own good in His mind.

Are you waiting for something? Remember this loving promise from God’s Word: “Therefore will the Lord wait that He may be gracious to you.” Isaiah 30:18