Part if the vision of the Episcopal Diocese of Tennessee is that we are “Open… to the power of God. When we gather, we expect God to show up, and to do mighty things in our midst.” The same applies when we pray. We expect God to hear us and to respond when we pray in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. We believe in the miracles, and we believe in the power of prayer. That’s an amazing thing. To know that God is good and working in this world for the good plans he has for you.
BUT… I personally sometimes forget that the response to my prayers will be in God’s time and God’s way. I have learned to pray for peace and understanding rather than a specific outcome. I have learned to stop fighting God’s will, because his plan is always better than man. I just can’t seem to remember that doing all of that means I may be in for very different ride than the one I set out on. This year has been a compelling example of that.
I began this year with a plan, a plan to accomplish things at work, at home, and at church. I also began this year with a deep uneasiness in my soul. I knew I was not where God intended me to be, but I also didn’t know where that was or how to get there. Everything in my life was wonderful and yet not. Something didn’t fit, but I didn’t know what it was. It was like wearing an expensive, beautiful outfit that fits and everyone else loves, but in your gut, you just don’t like it, because it isn’t you.
As I approached Lent, I prayed and prayed for direction. I have always used Lent as a time to complete a service project or give something up that would help move me in a better direction in my life. It’s usually an obvious choice. But this year, everything was good. My life was in a good place and moving in a good direction. This year, I didn’t have a clue, so I prayed. Over and over again, I asked God to show me the way and give me the strength to follow it. Over and over again I prayed, “Whatever your will, can you help me find it.”
My answer came on Shrove Tuesday. God said, give up everything and follow me. So we did.
Thankfully, that didn’t include our four-legged family members, who are as much a part of the family as the two-legged members. But it did include a lot of things I had never expected to part with. Things like all my dresses. They all went to Goodwill, because there just isn’t room in our temporary home. Many of my books, all of our DVDs, pots, pans, clothes, coats, furniture. Stuff. Gone. Given up to follow the path God laid out before us.
Here we are in the weeks following Pentecost still praying for direction and courage to follow. Living in a temporary home still searching for a permanent one. I’m at a new church on an unknown path. I’m slowly seeing places to serve and to use my gifts for the Glory of God, but I won’t lie… It is a long and scary path, and I have no idea where we will end up. But I have faith, faith that God is good, and his plans for us are good. So we wait and we listen.
The morale of the story? Be careful what you pray for. God is listening. God hears you. If you ask, he will answer. If you pray, be prepared for what will follow. It may not be what you expect. It will be good as God is good, but it may take strength and courage to have faith during the journey. Be careful that you’re prepared for your prayers to be answered in God’s way and in God’s time.