“What?” he asks. Only it’s not so much a question as a two-year-old’s bold reaction to just about everything.
“Wait for me.”
My kids did the “why” stage. This little guy is more a “could you repeat that, please” type,…and hurry it up while you’re at it.
“You need to wait until I get my coat on so I can go outside with you.”
“Ohhhhh.” It is an exasperated moan which rises like a little siren at the end. His arms drop like weights against his sides, and his knees bend almost to the floor. But not quite. Obviously my request is borderline intolerable.
My prayer life can sound like this. At least the silent ones, not the community group type. But the one in my bedroom only God hears, those prayers sound in my ears like a whiny child wanting my own way. At times, my desperate plea is really a disguised complaint.
There was a time when I felt like “I got this thing” called prayer. But that was B.C. Before our daughter Charity’s big health crisis, before a long long season of wrestling with God like Jacob, “I won’t let go until you bless me.”
My vision of Who hears my prayers expanded, exploded and richened, at the same time, my understanding of prayer became murky. In some regards I am prone to be like a child stiff-arming with impatience the interruption of yet another whaaaaat?
Maybe that is why in my Bible reading today Jesus spoke through one of those stories that seemed to me to have no point. 2 Kings 6:1-7 sits between big happenings, but Elisha and the axe head is stuck randomly in-between. It’s a big what?
Elisha and his prophet friends cut down some trees to build a place to live by the Jordan River. One of the prophets lost his borrowed axe head while he chopped a log. It fell into the Jordan.
Elisha cut off a stick and threw it in the water and the iron floated. Then the other prophet pulled it from the water and presumably they all went happily on chopping trees.
Why did God grant a supernatural miracle to save an axe head? I really don’t get it.
Yet, I have such a need for the little miracles of everyday.
As I pray, often I’m blocked by past seemingly unanswered prayers I begged for in the dark of a hospital or the need of the moment. They muddy the prayer water.
I confuse what God will do today with what He didn’t do then. And at times my puny arm holds Him off and a voice inside challenges, “What?”
But Elisha and the axe head convicted me of the sin of unbelief.
If God makes an axe head float while a seemingly deeper more significant request is denied, does it make Him unjust?
God chided Job, after losing all his possessions and his ten children. “Shall a faultfinder contend with the Almighty? He who argues with God, let him answer it.” Job 40:2 ESV
The accusatory pleading of desperation that implies, “You didn’t answer then, so you won’t now” is wrong. For my glimpse doesn’t reveal the whole rest of the picture still hidden.
In these last COVID years, there is so much grief. Sometimes it feels like the entire world is crying, and it is. So many pleas for Jesus to intervene, to step into the water, but sometimes the heavy “axe head” doesn’t float.
I cannot carry all the “no’s” of God in my heart. They chain me to what I see, and don’t enable me to see “yes’s.” They become a moan of selfishness. My Father does what is best and moves mountains to accomplish the impossible. Even when what I see is no.
I shrug on my coat and hold out my hand. I feel the hot skin of my grandson’s little hand submit and conform into mine. We head outside. The sun is bright. The air cold. His little body doesn’t even break the crusty covered snow. He slides on top like Peter walked on water.
The One who holds my hand is good, right and just. Today I’ll look for all the little requests, the axe head ones He has raised to life and used for His purposes. I will be thankful and remember. I will choose to dwell on His gracious goodness and faithfulness.
“Let’s walk here,” I point ahead to where a path is cleared.
“What?” he shouts.
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