When I touch base with somebody who I’ve earnestly prayed for, or have been praying for his/her specific situation, I tend to have high expectations. I expect to hear that they are flourishing. When I learn otherwise, that is, more challenges and unexplained struggles have arisen, I may not express my instant reaction but I feel disappointed. Immediately, I start questioning God. “What’s going on here, Lord, am I not praying hard enough? You can move mountains if you want to…I’ve asked you to!” What I forget and, due to my dogged nature, what I need reminded of, is that it’s not about me. The reasons for unanswered petitions, or for circumstances to continue on without a royal ironing out, that is, chaos is still reigning for an individual for who I’ve invested prayer, could be numerous. What I’ve noticed is that when God moves, it doesn’t just affect one person or situation. Rather, numerous are affected on multiple levels. Could be a timing issue, could be a variation in an intended path. Might be a spiritual blockage like an unaddressed grudge, could be that somebody else unforeseen needs to come into the fold and be touched through the condition. James 5:16 tells us, “Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.”
As I, feeling deflated, dwelled on these considerations, I decided I needed some fresh air. Determined to take a walk, I opened the door to sudden bad weather. “Wha? When did this storm move in? It was nice just thirty minutes ago!” Then I felt the Holy Spirit nudge me, saying to my spirit along the lines of, “What I give you when I give it is sufficient to weather the storm. I am your GPS. I am your weather app. But you cannot control the storm. I do.”
Gulp. Fair enough. Yes, I tend to want to control situations. And yes, I am a human with huge error, relentlessly stubborn, forgetful, and often weak. I needed the recap: God is sovereign. So, when things transpire differently than what I personally desire, I am reminded that prayer is a tool and a precious gift. It’s also a form of obedience. That’s right, I don’t control diddly-squat. And right now, I’m relieved. Right now, I’d hate to think how things would indeed turn out if I had the control, with my shortsightedness…can you imagine? *cringe*
God is sovereign. Hurrah for that!
A terrible ice storm hit Tennessee, blanketing everything with frost, uprooting trees, downing power lines. Many of us went without power for days. Roads became ice skating rinks with cars and people ill-equipped to glide with ease. Over 20 people died as a result of auto accidents and hypothermia while trapped in the unbearable cold…in some places -10. Temperatures not experienced before, not even close. House pipes froze, heaters fizzled, yet the flu epidemic was alive and well. Not a good combination for anybody. Even the deer and other wildlife ventured beyond their usual edge-of-woods curiosity to the backdoor as if asking, “Help us out…?” I think many would agree that it’s been a treacherous period here in Tennessee where I live, a part of the nation declared a level III State of Emergency. Schools had closed for an entire week (and then some). Nonetheless, each time I peered out the window, smacking my arms for the heat of friction, frozen puffs of breath escaping my mouth, I’d gasp at the splendor outside. I’d never seen anything so spectacular. The ice-covered trees sparkled like an endless ballroom of crystal. And although the gusts of wind had proved dangerous, it made the branches and limbs glimmer and wink even more. Everything else seemed frozen in time. The scene possessed greater magic than any epic fantasy novel. Glorious in beauty, how can something so hazardous and destructive be also thrilling and inimitably divine?
Storms have caused such commotion of late that I’ve developed the habit of muttering, “Something wicked this way comes....” whenever I see a dark blanket in the sky threatening encroachment.
This morning, I had a different experience. I cranked the music of Richard Smallwood with Vision and watched a storm enact. All of a sudden, the situation turned from one of total anxiety to total praise. The elements gave the appearance of being conducted, as if they listened. Trees swayed, clouds wisped, rain shifted, lightning danced. My love of music restored my love of storms. Yes, it was a tempestuous morning. “Something glorious that way goes....”