Jesus is Lord. He is the Creator, Sovereign Master; the Shepherd and Savior of my soul. Those truths are foundational and non-negotiable elements of orthodoxy. I preach, teach, and do all I can to live in submission to those truths.
Well, mostly. I BELIEVE the facts but sometimes I am too short-sighted to SEE them in action. On this day, March 17th, I am reminded specifically about my short-sightedness regarding those truths in relation to answers to prayer.
It was on this day in 2014 the elders of the church I was pastoring at the time asked for my resignation. Never have I experienced so many facets of what we simply label as “pain”. The intensity was sharp, piercing, and deeper than I knew pain could go…and it was an answer to prayer.
Over the course of the many months prior, much of my prayer had been seeking God’s hand in my marriage, in my personal life, and in my ministry; grow my marriage, make me more like Jesus, bless my ministry. The events of March 17, 2014 challenged those areas of my life like few ever had. God knew exactly what I needed. My belief system told me that. My heart, though, said, “NO! This is NOT how you do this God!” My heart didn’t match my beliefs because my heart was more concerned with HOW God would answer rather than simply trusting that He would answer.
In my tiny mind and minuscule heart, losing my job/ministry, moving to my mom’s house in Arizona (seriously, what mom doesn’t long for their 49 year old son to move back home!), and working at an hourly job at Walmart wasn’t the definition of “blessing”, not by a long shot! I was all for Jesus being Lord as long as His Lordship functioned within the parameters I had set. Sadly, I was no better than the Jews of Jesus’ day who rejected Him as the Messiah because He didn’t fit their preconceived idea of what the Messiah would be like and what He would do for them.
In Psalm 5:1-3 David wrote,
Give ear to my words, O LORD;
consider my groaning.
Give attention to the sound of my cry,
my King and my God,
for to you do I pray.
O LORD, in the morning you hear my voice;
in the morning I prepare a sacrifice for you and watch.
David asked God to “give ear…consider…give attention”. He groaned, cried, prayed, and sacrificed.
I had done all of those; persistently, daily, emotionally. David did something though that I failed to do. He watched. He looked intently. He faithfully searched for God’s answer knowing indeed He would. He understood what it mean that God was King. What he didn’t do was what I unmistakably did. He didn’t draw a picture of what it would look like and wait only for that. “Watching” means I am to look intently with eyes of faith knowing God’s answer is coming and most likely coming in ways I cannot even fathom.
Isaiah wrote words which strike to the core of the way God answers prayer.
For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
neither are your ways my ways, declares the LORD.
For as the heavens are higher than the earth,
so are my ways higher than your ways
and my thoughts than your thoughts. (Isaiah 55:8-9)
God answers the prayers of my deepest longings not in convenient, comfortable fashion, rather, He answers with a means beyond me. That is good, because I am not. My ways are low as the lowest levels of earth, His are as high as the heavens.
Trusting the Lord’s sovereign shepherding of my life means I willingly, joyfully, and humbly submit to the way He chooses to answer my prayer. The deepest desire of my heart was for Raine and I to grow together like never before, for me to follow more closely to Jesus, and grow in my ability to serve Him.
Thankfully 3 years ago today He answered my prayer and still continues to do so.