praying about unanswered prayers

Personally, it's been a rough month. The day my last post went online, the one about forgiveness, I wrote it earlier in the week and scheduled it to post later, my son was hit by a reckless driver with a suspended license. Although the truck ran over and killed our dog, it sent my son air borne so that he landed in the grass. His injuries are minimal, not what his doctors expected from such an accident. He is still recovering and healing physically. As a family, we are all still recovering emotionally. We miss our dog. We are looking for a replacement still.

After Blizzard Nemo left it's two feet of snow at my house, I spent many hours shoveling. The long repetitive exertion leads me an enjoyable mental zone: contemplative, meditative, in the moment, peace. There's something that occurs in the haze of exhaustion, something not accessible behind a snowblower. I started praying as I dug, lifted, and tossed the snow.

I was thankful for the miracle of my son's accident, for the guardian angels who protected him.
Dig. Lift. Toss.
But, Jesus, if you do such amazing things, and even more miraculous things in the gospels, why do some things I ask of you not ever happen?
Dig. Lift. Toss.
Why don't those around me who are mentally ill heal?
Dig. Lift. Toss.
Why do so many Christians, self included, fail to mature, and move away from selfishness to greater charity?
Dig. Lift. Toss.
Why do so many Christian leaders in the limelight behave so wickedly? Why are the so-called "fruits of the spirit"* so hard to find in the lives of these examples?
Dig. Lift. Toss.
Where is your power?
Dig. Lift. Toss.

I finally had my 1997 Crown Victoria dug out. It was time to start it up. But it refused. This car never has battery trouble. The minivan does, but not this time. In anticipation of the van having trouble, I had parked the two cars nose to nose before the storm. I connected the jumper cables and impatiently tried to start the Crown Vic a few times without success. My long suffering wife, who does exhibit fruits of the Holy Spirit, told me to give it more time.
I went back to shoveling.
Dig. Lift. Toss.
I told Jesus, "Speaking of power, could you get my car working too?" I imagine he was chuckling at this point.
Dig. Lift. Toss.
I got back in my car, turned the key, and the engine struggled to life. It was a moment that irritated me as much as it gratified me.
Jesus still hasn't answered my big questions. He answered that little prayer though.

I read books by Christian authors who live very different lives than mine. They jet around the world doing great deeds. They seize life by the horns and see God do amazing things. I'm not sure why these books are written. for encouragement or for discouragement. I feel more of the latter when I read them. As a dad of three kids, supporting my family, my life stays pretty much the same, Dig. Lift. Toss. I feel all the time the way I felt in my car that day, grateful and irritated.

Jesus, you've done so much, there's so much more to do.

One sentence of Jesus' in John's gospel has been my main source of spiritual stability in 2013 since just before the accident.
John 16:33b "...take heart; I have overcome the world."
I've been focused on the "take heart, I have overcome" part. But a friend reminded me of the rest of the verse. John 16:33 "I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world." The promise of trials is not comforting. Yet, the promise of his victory is supposed to give me courage and hope and peace.

This morning, I read through the 2nd half of Genesis. Every time, I'm struck by Jacob's summary of his life to Pharaoh. Genesis 47:9 And Jacob said to Pharaoh, "The days of the years of my sojourning are 130 years. Few and evil have been the days of the years of my life..." This is a guy surrounded by a multi-generational and disturbed family of 70, who regained the son he thought had died, who worked his entire life as a successful shepherd, and had these intense encounters with God once every other decade or so when he was given amazing promises from God.
I think he was grateful and irritated as well.
He was grateful that his family would survive the famine. He was irritated that God didn't make that happen in his homeland, Israel. I think he was pretty much the same rascal in his old age that he was when he conspired with his mother to steal his brother's inheritance. He hadn't matured much.
Nevertheless, God's involvement in his life made his life worth recording.

Life goes on.
Dig. Lift. Toss. Dig. Lift. Toss. Dig. Lift. Toss. Dig. Lift. Toss. Dig. Lift. Toss. Dig. Lift. Toss. Epiphany. Dig. Lift. Toss. Dig. Lift. Toss. Dig. Lift. Toss. Dig. Lift. Toss. Dig. Lift. Toss. Dig. Lift. Toss. Epiphany. Dig. Lift. Toss. Dig. Lift. Toss. Dig. Lift. Toss. Dig. Lift. Toss. Dig. Lift. Toss. Dig. Lift. Toss. Epiphany.
I'd like to only have epiphanies from God.
But someone has to move the snow.
Someone has to earn a paycheck.
Someone has to drive my son to the doctor's office.
My epiphany is that Jesus is involved in my life and I need to stop worrying about his degree of involvement in other's lives.

I don't expect any more epiphanies anytime soon. Another snow storm is forecast for Connecticut in a couple days. I need to get ready. I bought a couple new shovels, since I broke three last weekend. It's nearly time for another day of Dig. Lift. Toss.


*22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. 24 And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. 25 If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit. 26 Let us not become conceited, provoking one another, envying one another. Galatians 5

Comments

pretty clever.. nice read
Eric Stillman said…
Beautiful.

Isaiah 40:28-31 - Do you not know? Have you not heard? The LORD is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He will not grow tired or weary, and his understanding no one can fathom. 29 He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. 30 Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; 31 but those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.

The climax is not the soaring on wings like eagles or the mountaintop experiences doing amazing things all over the world. The climax of Isaiah 40 is that because of the Lord we will have the strength to walk and not be faint.

In other words, keep on digging, lifting, and tossing.
Joe Rudin said…
I'm so sorry to hear about your dog and glad to hear that your son is ok. God really was watching out for your family that day. I can empathize with your post today as well. There arer many days when I wonder why I have so much difficulty growing, maturing, becoming more Christlike. I see all of the great things that people are doing around me and wish that I could do something like that too. I have ideas for great things I'd like to do, most of them just aren't feasible for me yet. So, I suppose that God has given me these ideas to work on, to work towards. Perhaps He is trying to prepare me. Perhaps he is trying to teach me in the meantime. He spent 40 years molding and shaping Moses in the wilderness before He used him to free the Israelites out of Egpyt. He then spent another 40 years shaping and teaching Israel before letting them take the land that He promised. God spent three years teaching Paul before he became one of the greatest evangelists the world has ever known. Maybe he is taking the time to teach me as well. I think maybe he takes that time with all of us, to one degree or another. I don't have the slightest clue what He may be teaching you in your time of digging, lifting, and tossing, but take heart, because He does teach us.

Take care, brother.
-Joe

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