Whenever the rain comes down hard enough to start bouncing on the pavement, I remember what it felt like to live in a flood zone; holding my breath that the pummeling rain wouldn't turn into a cresting river.
This morning as the rain poured out the side of our gutters creating a waterfall feature, I was realizing again how many life lessons and analogies I have from my time in a bizarre old farmhouse. (If you want to read more about the events of 911 Hampton Rd...read here.) One of the lessons I learned was how God thoroughly and completely answers prayer. We had prayed for Him to provide a way for us to remodel our 1936 farmhouse. He did. Thoroughly and completely. He didn't just "send a check in the mail" so we could have our dream. He used a Ford Explorer crashing through the kitchen, a flood, and fantastic insurance. He used our remodel to teach us to trust Him as our True foundation. We learned to run to Him with our fears, that our earthly dreams can be broken in a moment and only things built in Christ will last. Ultimately the things we learned in process were more valuable than if we
had been handed the keys to an end product.But oh, it hurt! My favorite teacup shattered along with our computer and a favorite desk in the 'hit'. All the sheetrock we worked so hard on had to be ripped down along with my freshly painted rooms. For months I cringed when I heard a car driving fast next to any house. Clean up after the flood was so overwhelming that we procrastinated for months. The cost was high, but our remodel was thorough and complete. Done any other way would have only scraped the surface.
This past year God has answered my prayers in the same fashion: unexpectedly and painfully. For example, for years I prayed that S. would take wise leadership in our finances.
Hooray- God has been answering!
Argh- He's done it by bringing us to nothing and then convicting S. to prudence and leadership. In the process He hasn't forgotten what I need to learn; dependance on Him, relinquishing control, that it won't kill us to eat cheap meat for awhile.
As I whine I am reminded, "Thoroughly and completely. The Lord is answering thoroughly and completely."
Most of my prayers in the past year have been answered with a brutal "thoroughly and completely" or with a "no". I know without doubt I will look back at this season and see God's big faithful handprint on it. However, in the midst I've felt like "God's going to do what He's going to do. I don't even want to ask." Then I resort to cowering under my gold 'quiet time' chair instead of sitting, praying boldly, on it. Somewhere along the way I didn't even want to pray anymore. When I did, it was only words like "help...be gracious...mercy!" that emerged.
Last week I read Isaiah 37 and 38. They are about the king of Judah, Hezekiah, and two separate requests he makes of the Lord. Specifically, the one that spoke straight into my soul was as Hezekiah was on his death bed and begged the Lord to let him live. The Lord had already told him through Isaiah that his life was ending. The Lord answers "yes" and adds fifteen years to Hezekiah's life. He then leads Hezekiah through a process of acknowledging his own sin and inability to save himself- bringing God glory and showing to the nations that the God of Judah is the God able to save. Thoroughly and completely.
Even though I already know God answers prayer and even though I've experienced these things... I had fresh eyes after cowering in exhaustion. The relief in Hezekiah's prayer: going from desperation to the amazement that God was about to restore him somehow became my relief. It is my relief that God does answer thoroughly and completely. It is my relief that God "has heard my prayer and seen my tears" (Isaiah 38:5). It energizes me to know that He has changed course because of the prayers of His own.
I've been expectantly waiting for the Lord to bring me to this place. Foolishly I thought He would accomplish a turning in my heart by turning my circumstances. Instead, He used His Word- piercing me in a way that words, unfortunately, can't do justice. You'd think my thick head would wrap around the fact that He doesn't merely work in circumstances or skim the surface...He works thoroughly and completely.