This train of thought has been brewing with me for a while now. I want to talk with you about unanswered prayer.
Broaching this topic is a bit risky. It’s like saying, “I want to teach you about God.” Hah! And so now you know. I know precious little about answers and the lack of them except what I’ve experienced. But, that being the point, we come into greater understanding by putting little bits together. Sometimes the pieces fit, right? And sometimes we set them aside, and go looking for a piece of blue sky for our puzzle.
But it is a puzzle indeed.
Only you know what life has handed you, and what questions remain unanswered. I’ll never be able to hand you the puzzle piece to fit that gaping hole you are staring at. I know this though, so many times we stare and stare at that gaping hole — that ache or longing for something or someone — and we think we know why it’s empty.
For so many years I thought my prayers had remained unanswered because I had done something wrong. Or that I failed God in some way, or hadn’t had enough faith, or hadn’t prayed right, or sacrificed enough. For real. I have repented, fasted, declared, obeyed, sinned, run the gamut of emotions, and flip-flopped all over the place trying to understand.
I wonder if you’ll hear me when I say this: It’s never, ever been Father God’s intention that you would beat yourself up over this thing.
He’s a super great communicator. If you had done something wrong He would have let you know and once you dealt with that situation, it would be over; i.e., it’s never His intent to punish forever. He’s not mad at you, and holding something over you for what you did in 1985.
He’s a super great communicator. If He wanted you to do something in terms of obeying Him in an area, He would let you know, and that step of obedience would become important to you. I tell you it would. That’s His nature. Scripture says, “… for it is God who works within you both to will and to work for His good pleasure.” We are so wired! to be in relationship with Him. Don’t go chasing after legalistic things you think you should be doing in order to find your answers.
He’s a super great communicator but just like any loving relationship worth having, He gently tugs us out of our navel-gazing, and sometimes victimized thinking. At times He gently cajoles us, pulls on our sleeve a bit. Sometimes we’re looking for a direct answer and He just wants to talk. Period. Instead of giving me answers He’ll say to me, “Watch this…” and He’ll show me something or someone that interests Him. Other times He’ll play Hide N’ Seek. We’re after our answers like a heat-seeking missile and He’s dodging behind doors and peeking at us to see if we’ll chase! Why? Because He loves us, and He loves being in relationship with us. Father God gets a great kick out of telling me riddles. Oftentimes I know its the Lord speaking because my next step will be in the form of a riddle. Remember this … no matter how He communicates with you, what He shares with you will always reflect His character and His nature. You’ll see His character and His nature reflected in Scripture. Get to know His ways with you.
My greatest treasure in life is to have had some unanswered questions over the course of perhaps 20 years. There is grace that accompanies any suffering, any lack, and there is an enormous blessing in every affliction. It’s up to you to find it.
Most of the time, with unanswered prayer, you’re not ever going to know why or when or how long or who but you have a wonderful opportunity to know the Holder of the ‘Why’, and He wants to hold you. In the midst of your heartache, He wants to hold you; He wants you to let the “holding it all together” go, even if its for a few minutes. You get so exhausted doing that … holding it all together.
Just let Him carry it for a few minutes. Let Him carry you.
Last night, as I was driving home I was pondering some things with God. I looked over to a billboard – one of those that is digital and changes constantly – and I saw the word PlayBook. Having no idea that Blackberry is launching the next iPad and calling it a Playbook, the word had no connotations but still stood out to me. I asked the Lord the most obvious question…”What’s in Your playbook, Lord? What are your strategies for the coming months that involve me?”
Googling the word a little bit made things more interesting. First off I learned about Blackberry’s new launch. Cool. I’m most familiar with the word from basketball or football where each of the plays is outlined and is used on the game floor or in the locker room as a refresher. Now, what I find to be the most interesting definition is that the first definition is most often like the Oxford English Dictionary’s:
A book containing the text of a play or plays.
I have two deadlines coming up, one is a piece for my Writing Lives class. The other is a documentary, part of which will be written next week during a speed-writing competition for screenplays.
So, I find it interesting that a random sign leads me to ask the Lord what is on His heart, and both the billboard sign and it’s deeper definition point me neatly toward my writing project at hand. But let’s look a little deeper…a playbook contains the text of a play or in some cases strategies for winning the game. I’m definitely a person that likes to know what comes next. I think I’ve worn the Lord out asking Him that question. So, how is this going to go? Got a plan here, Stan? Ya don’t need to be coy, Roy. You just listen to me. …Okay, okay. Enough of the Simon & Garfunkel quotes.
After asking the Lord so many times for a plan I think that I’ve finally satisfied myself by being near Him, by resting the whole of my life on His heart. Sometimes He tells me the secrets of His heart … who in my world needs a hug, or a financial gift or needs help with a chore. And sometimes, like a good parent, He lets me figure it out on my own. Even better, we learn to become content with the process. I still chafe. I want a plan, and I want to know when and how this is all going to work. I like cards on the table, thank you very much. I don’t want to risk and I don’t want to get hurt. But sometimes Father hides the playbook, and we have to write the script as we go.
I guess that’s another reason the sign made me smile. Father loves to play hide-n-seek, and I felt like He was indulging Himself in a bit of a game with me. Good-hearted and loving, never a bully –that’s just not His nature — He gave me the mult-faceted word just to make me smile. He’s like that, you know.