|This is a picture of my beautiful niece, Rachel, |
after she learned to catch a chicken.
As anyone who lives in East Texas can tell you, a working air conditioner in one's vehicle is a very high priority, especially for anyone who commutes any distance to work each day. About a year ago, the air conditioner in my car, or rather the fan that makes the air from the air conditioner (or ever so rarely, the heater) blow out of the vents, and into the atmosphere of my vehicle, began to falter. It took on a temperamental maybe-i-will-and-maybe-i-won't kind of attitude, which i found extremely frustrating.
Even more frustrating, was the strange fact that my husband could get in the car, put his hand on the vent (i'm am so not making this up), say, "come on, baby," to the car, and the fan would begin to blow. every. time. For me? It would do nothing. I took on the strategy of never turning the fan down from "high," thinking that if i didn't mess with the controls, it might not remember i was there, and it would keep blowing.
At some point after the car stopped succumbing to my husband's gentle wooing, we accidentally figured out that traveling hard and fast over certain speed bumps would often convince the fan to blow. (This may or may not have something to do with why my struts need to be replaced.) But eventually, even the speed bump method became undependable.
One day during this past unusually long and cold winter (for us, ok?), i was nearly in tears by the time i got to work in the morning. I hadn't worn a big enough coat, and the heat in my car had refused to blow on me, no matter how much i begged. That afternoon, when it was time to go home, the temperature was still very cold, and i still had no decent coat. Anticipating a tearfully cold trip home, i am not exaggerating when i tell you, i prayed fervently to the Lord to make my heater blow on me. And then, i followed my prayers up with action by getting a good and long head start and speeding fast over the speed bump at the entrance to the parking garage. IT WORKED! God answered my prayer, and the heater kept me warm all the way home. I was tearfully thankful instead of tearfully cold. I knew that God had heard me and answered my prayer.
But it didn't last, and i was sad when summer started to come, and no amount of prayer or sweating or abusing my car seemed to have any valuable effect on the comfort level inside my car.
Then one day, finally, i remembered that i wanted to google my car problem and see if there might be an easy fix. And i remembered to actually do it. You know what? There is! It turns out that my blower motor needs to be replaced. The blower motor being the thingy doodle behind and below my glove box, that makes ye ole conditioned air blow through the vents in my dash. You know what else? Now that i know where it's located, i figured out that i can hit that area with my umbrella to make the fan kick on. You know, until i actually replace the motor (the new part is in my living room being very useful). With a little effort on my part, i learned how to resolve my situation, instead of crying about it and begging for help.
I know this is long, but keep reading.
When babies are babies, they can pretty much breathe with a funny tone, and their mother or father or whomever caretaker, is closely inspecting them and attending to their every need. But what would you think if you saw a mother attending so closely to the needs of a healthy....let's say, eight year-old? It's ok. You can answer. You'd think that that was a pretty terrible parent, wouldn't you? Even worse, if you see a parent catering to the every whim of their spoiled, snarl-faced teenager. Isn't that right?
But for some reason, as people attempting to follow after God, there is this tendency for us to believe that if God isn't answering our prayers, we must be doing something wrong. Well, let me rephrase that. If God isn't doing everything we tell Him to do, the way we tell Him to do it, when we tell Him it should be done, then there's something wrong with our spirituality. Our faith must be weak.
And sometimes we think this because we remember a day when it seemed like every time we just had a though of a desire, God was answering that for us. Delighting us by teaching us that He is actually listening to our hearts. And we think that the present delayed gratification, the requests that are not instantaneously granted, are some kind of sign of lost faith.
But that isn't the case. God is a parent. Better than that, He's a good parent. So, if you would see spoiling a teenager, instead of teaching them responsibility, accountability, and skills, as bad parenting..................then why would we expect God to cooperate with a parenting plan, created by us, the children, in which He simply does everything we want Him to do, protects us from every possible disappointment, and never teaches us to grow and mature?
Good question, isn't it?
Because life on earth is not this thing we have to endure until we can finally die and go to heaven, where we'll never have to think again, or do anything again. We're not going to just be a bunch of diapered babies, being spoiled for eternity, by a nanny god, in a big cloudy nursery in the sky, called Heaven. This life is preparing us for eternity. An eternity, i admit i don't understand, but that i do understand our hearts are being conditioned for. Heaven is called a kingdom. Not a nursery. You know, the "Kingdom of Heaven." Jesus used that term, Kingdom of Heaven, only about 25 times per minute while He was on earth. Maybe it means something. Please excuse me. My sarcasm is showing. :)
You may have often heard it said, as I have, that it is not God's will that we should be sick, or in pain. And I absolutely, one hundred gobillion percent, believe that. In exactly the same way, but much more benevolently, as you, as a parent, cannot stand to see your child experience disappointment, or pain, or sadness, or grief, God the Father hates to see His children hurt. It grieves His heart. It causes Him pain. And yet, the condition of our souls, the value of our character, being so infinitely more important than the comfort of our bodies, in His wisdom and foresight, He will absolutely definitely, use the extremely painful and seemingly unbearable discomforts of this life to shape our souls into His image. So that we are ready to be citizens of the Kingdom of Heaven, when the time comes.
It is our job to ask Him for what we need and want. It is His job to give the right answer. Can you have enough faith to trust Him when the answers are hard to find? When they don't look like the same answer that other guy got? When they don't conform to what we imagine?
I'm not saying not to ask for healing and miracles. God absolutely does healing and miracles. He absolutely wants us to ask for them, and He absolutely wants to teach us how to see the circumstances of this life, from another dimension, like the spoon in the matrix. He wants to bring us to the place of spiritual authority where we we tell the circumstances the will of God, and they obey. But He's not training up magicians. He's training up His children into spiritual soldiers, armed and ready and skillful. And there is training. The training is hard. And the transformation is miraculous and beautiful.
Many times in the Bible, God is compared to a potter, and we are compared to His clay. I once saw a potter give a demonstration, with physical clay, illuminating the details of the metaphor of our lives. It was really beautiful. One of the things she said was that sometimes, the clay is tough, and it refuses to conform to the shape the potter is trying to get. When this happens, as i understand it, the potter will take the clay off of the wheel, and beat it and work it, to make it more malleable, and then start the process again. In this metaphor, i'm just guessing that being beaten into malleability is probably painful. But the persistence of the potter is so loving. How much easier it would be to just throw away the clay and begin again with more ideal clay. But instead He tries again and again. Breaking His own heart, as He allows His child to endure pain, so that a better end, a beautiful and useful vessel, can be formed, in His merciful, all-knowing hands.
Praise Him. For His mercy endures forever.