When you pray, do you only have one answer that you will accept? Or do you leave open the idea that God may have another way to answer your prayer?
Two perspectives have led me to see God’s plan meet my deep desires. It struck me one Sunday morning as I walked into worship. God answered my prayer, but not in the way that I expected. Thankfully, I had a pen and notebook with me and I immediately began to write. Here’s what I wrote.
I recently heard Frances Chan share a story of how a young, Christian friend was not disappointed when a prayer was not answered as they had expected. Chan was surprised by such a mature response from a young believer. The woman’s response was, “God is the Creator and He has 100 ways to answer my prayer, so I’m sure He has a better plan.”
I, also, heard Dr. Derek Grier say in a sermon, “If Plan A doesn’t work, there are 25 other letters in the alphabet.” And, finally, I read this quote from author Stephen King: God is the only one who gets it right the first time.
So, with that as background, let me share a story from my life. A few years ago I made a run at becoming a church staff member and thought about going to seminary. Much earlier in my life I had been a campus minister and had applied to and was accepted at a major seminary. My path went a different route. Now, many years later, I see a different plan being worked out in me and for me. I’m a pastor-at-large through writing. Every day, I receive Biblical content and re-present it through writing in an effort to engage people in learning about God and getting to know God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. I am challenged to make sure the truth of Scripture is presented in a way that is winsome, interesting and helpful.
So, it is a sacred calling, which gives me joy, a sense of responsibility and peace. Thus, my writing is easy. That’s right; it’s easy. In the same way that Jesus invites us to take His burden and give Him ours, I feel as though I’ve been given Jesus’s “light” burden in exchange for my heavy burden of doubt and regret regarding whether I’m doing what God has called and gifted me to do. I believe we too often live with heaviness because we are putting worldly expectations on God instead of allowing His heavenly expectations to embody us, to fill and infuse us.
How do you infuse tea with fruit?
Steep your green tea with fresh fruit as another way to add a fruity flavor to the tea. When you steep green tea bags, add lemon wedges, strawberries, raspberries or peaches to the liquid. As the fruit soaks in the warm water, it will draw some of the flavor into the tea.
How to infuse medicine into your body?
Using an IV we allow a liquid to flow into a vein, as a way to get the medicine or liquid into our systems.
How does the Spirit infuse us with God’s being?
As we soak in God’s Word and open our hearts, we are infused with His perspective and principles. He also supernaturally puts His Spirit in our hearts so that our whole lives can be infused with guidance, peace and gifting.
So, as we open ourselves to God and worship Him and desire to bring ourselves fully (all the parts) to Him, He infuses purpose, talent and fruitfulness into our lives. As that infusing changes us, it allows God to lead us into the places and vocations He wants for us. In the process, God wants to build our faith in Him. That means we will go through times when we can choose to take our burden back or continue to carry the light burden. It’s an amazing, but difficult process. Some never learn it and carry a heavy burden of their own and other people’s expectations and regrets. Others learn it and carry Jesus’s light burden. It’s never too late to learn it and live it. On God’s timetable, we have a lifetime to learn and live and be conformed to the image of Jesus.
Therefore, I feel that I’m the beneficiary of one of the 100 other creative solutions to my desire and prayer to be a pastor or a spiritual director or a monk or a professor.
I am the most blessed person I know, because I have seen it from the inside out.