Have you ever wondered if God is really there?
That’s a big question, the kind of query that philosophers and theologians have spent lifetimes debating. Yet, no matter our chosen vocation, educational background, abilities or limitations, it is a question that each of us must face.
All this is made harder by the fact that God doesn’t always make sense. If He would just always answer our prayers with a big heavenly “YES” and keep all believers from injury, illness, death, and taxes it would be easy to believe. But He has His own way of doing things.
It always amazes me though, how God will provide for our small struggling faith. That time I snapped impatiently at someone, but couldn’t leave my young children unattended to go and apologize. That prayer: “Lord, if I should address this, You make a way.” And the answer, the very person I’d been short with, standing in the lunch line right next to me. The free astro van that a friend of a friend provided only weeks after Scruffy was concerned that we needed something. I had balked and then shot an impatient prayer up to my Lord: “If Scruff’s right, then You’re just going to have to do something, Lord, because I don’t see how this is going to work.” There were bigger things, like the pony my parents never intended to buy me that I prayed about for a year. Out of the blue, someone gave Shortcake to our family, against my parents wishes. The time God sternly indicated that we should send our oldest to public school, even though I already had my home school curriculum all picked out. Then there are the hard things, answered prayers when my step dad was dying of cancer. Those prayers for healing, not the answer we wanted. But time after time my mom was given divine assistance that just didn’t make sense. That moment she couldn’t lift Dave and she prayed and someone just happened to knock on her door. Over and over the Lord showed His presence, yet in the end Dave still died, with God right there, showing Himself, walking beside my mom.
I have a story from this summer. A quiet miracle that could so easily be missed. It did not send a revival through camp, bring a lost soul to heaven’s gate, or change the course of nations. But it meant everything to me.
Scruffy is fabulous with connecting with campers and staff and old school buddies and random strangers who need help reaching something off the top shelf at the store. Me, not so much. Give me a blank Word document or a sheet of paper and I can communicate with the best of them, but present an actual living breathing human and I tend to not do as well.
Despite my inadequacies, a senior high camper friended me on facebook last year. Let’s call her…Cordelia. We had several meaningful exchanges. But then the terrible truth hit me like a semi truck barreling down Blewett Pass. I wouldn’t recognize Cordelia in real life! We’d made a connection and due to my deficiencies in recognizing actual human faces, I was bound to walk right past her if she came to camp again. I rushed to Scruffy and demanded that he describe this camper in detail. He did, but so many girls could fit that description. I peered at Cordelia’s tiny profile picture on facebook and scrolled through photo after photo on her feed. It was no use, I could not be certain that I would recognize her in real life. I was bound to hurt her feelings when next we met. Finally, as a last resort, after doing my best to memorize her photo, I prayed. “Lord, I do not want to hurt this girl after our chats on facebook. Please, help me to recognize her.”
Did God answer my prayer?
Not the way I expected, but yes, He did.
I did not recognize her. Cordelia walked right past me on Lake day. My inabilities in the people department remained. Nary a twinge of new face recognition powers. I was hopeless. God however, is not.
One of the camp staff walked up to me and said “Did you see Cordelia. She is right over there.” She pointed and described the individuals surrounding Cordelia whom she’d driven to the lake with and even the color of swimsuit that Cordelia was wearing.
What are the odds? God came through for me, though He did not give me new abilities. He chose to work through someone else with the talent to recognize not only faces but clothing and swimming companions as well. Then God marched that talented person right over to my beach blanket and had them spout off all the relevant info in time for me to go and say hi to Cordelia before she left.
God is there and yes, He is working, just not always in the way that You and I expect. You can trust Him, at the lake out in the beautiful sunshine and at the side of a loved one who is passing away despite the fact that your heart is breaking. I can’t explain Him. I don’t know what the heck He is doing or thinking or planning. But I know that He loves and He works and He is here. Ever working, ever present, ever God.
I Corinthians 15:10–“But by the grace of God I am what I am, and His grace to me was not without effect.”