Tuesday, August 26, 2014

But Really, What's the Answer

Have you ever gotten an answer to a question but refused to accept it?

Have you ever asked a question over and over again, hoping the answer would change? (I've run into this technique as a teacher.)

I think we do this with God all the time. (Well, maybe I do this all the time. I'll just speak for myself.)

I pray and pray. God gives me an answer. But I keep praying about the same thing.

Why do Christians do this? Maybe we want the answer to change - we don't like the one we got so if we keep praying it will change. We don't want to do (or stop doing) what we've heard so we keep praying, thinking if we pretend we don't understand, we will get a different answer.

Sometimes we keep praying because we want to make sure it's the answer and not just our wishful thinking. It's good to verify whatever we think we hear, but to just keep asking to avoid action isn't good.

I think about Gideon. He asked God for a sign. (See Judges 6:36-40) He put out a wool fleece and asked God to make the fleece wet with dew and the ground around it dry. If God did that, Gideon would know that God wanted to use him to deliver Israel from the Midianites. God did what Gideon asked. Then Gideon said, "If you really want me to do this, make the ground wet and the fleece dry." God did that the next night.

I don't know if Gideon doubted his call or was just reluctant to do it. (Judges 6:16 does show some reluctance when God first came to him.) But Gideon asked and God answered. God kept telling Gideon to go. At last he did.

Sometimes it's not about doubting or reluctance. Sometimes, I think we don't recognize that the answer is the answer. We're expecting an answer that is completely different from what comes.

I've been praying a version of "God please show me what you want me to do" for the past couple of months. Last week I had hit a few snags in following what I felt were appropriate leads. I prayed that prayer again. "Show me what you want me to do."

Within a couple of hours of voicing that prayer, my phone rang. An editor called to offer me another writing opportunity. More of God's provision is what I was thinking.

Then a new thought appeared as I hung up the phone. "Why do you ignore the answer you keep getting?"

I pondered this. In several different instances, after I had prayed my "Show me what to do" prayer, I had received an email or call about a writing job. Since I wasn't looking for that to be the answer to my prayer, I kept missing it. Or maybe didn't want to accept it since I had a different answer in mind.

I read recently on a blog* that, when God seems silent and you are waiting, do the last thing that you clearly remember Him telling you to do. Every time I pray specifically about a teaching job, I feel that God is saying to wait. When I pray more generally ("show me what to do"), writing is the answer. Every time. So, how many fleeces must be wet or dry before I get/accept the answer?

So I'm praying something different now. "Keep me faithful in this task. And keep my ears open for whatever other paths You are leading me to travel."

And isn't that what I should have been praying all along? Keep me faithful to what You are doing now. And make me ready and willing for what is to come.

*I don't remember where I read this. If it's your blog or you know where I saw it, please let me know and I'll add a link and credit.

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