I often pray for things, yet don’t fully know what I’m asking for. Case-in-point: When I was finishing up my final year of college, my walk with the Lord had been growing deeper and sweeter. As I was reflecting on my past, I felt deep regret that I had not used a very difficult time in my life to grow closer to the Lord, but had run headlong the other way. I developed a bizarre desire for a “re-do” so to speak, and felt that if trouble came my way at that point in my life, it would only drive me closer to my beloved Savior. Seriously though, what kind of crazy person prays for a hard time? Clearly, I do. I didn’t really know what I wanted or what God would give me, but I kind of wanted a trial. In my crazy way, I expected something that would be a little glamorous, you know? Like, some trials cause people watching to really admire you and say what a wonderful Christian you are, etc. etc. etc. Deep down, this is the type of trial I wanted. Well, God had other plans, which involved me working full time in fast food while I watched all my other classmates get jobs in our field. Let me tell you one thing. There is nothing glamorous or admirable about fast food. Nothing. So here I was, stuck with this crazy thing I prayed for, feeling miserable. The Lord was so gracious to me, though, and did draw me closer to Him through it all. He taught me reliance on Himself, and what it really means to trust in Him to be my provider. Would I ever want to go through eight months of rejection from potential employers again? No. Do I ever again want to serve people French fries full time? That would be a no as well, but I am SO thankful I went through that and wouldn’t trade those lessons for the world.
Fast-forward to today. My schedule has been so full for a very long time. Between working full time and taking call, youth retreats, Bible study, speaking at a youth conference, and more, I have been burning my candle at both ends. This week was especially difficult. It all started on Saturday when I spent my morning frantically trying to figure out if anyone was coming to a baby shower I was planning, the afternoon was spent having coffee with a friend trying to hammer down details for said shower, the evening held relatives galore over the house, and the night was topped off with being called in to work after sleeping for only about 20 minutes. I didn’t get home until after 4am, didn’t sleep until closer to 4:30, and then had three hours of nursery duty awaiting me at 9:30. After spending those three hours with a group of adorable and rambunctious two-year-olds, I had to rush over to a mother-daughter outing with my 7th grade small group. Once we finished there, I had some errands to run, food to cook, and things to prep for the upcoming week. Monday morning hit and I was exhausted and SICK. I had to work through the stuffy nose and sleepy eyes for a 9 hour shift before coming home and going to bed. I had commitments after work on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday, and was going to be spending Friday night frantically getting the food prepped and decorations up for the baby shower I mentioned before. Man, I’m tired just typing all this out! Anyways, at my Bible study on Thursday, my prayer request was for rest and peace. With all this busyness, I have been feeling distant from my Savior, unable to maintain the level of self-control I should, and just generally rundown and crummy. As I was praying for this rest and peace I wanted, I was thinking of the prayer being answered along the lines of an unexpected day off work or to miraculously not need down time and just feel happy and refreshed as I overdo it. Again, I don’t always really know what I’m praying for when I ask God for vague things like rest.
I woke up Friday morning at 8:36, leaving me only 24 minutes to get to work (which is about 20 minutes away) by 9am. As I was frantically putting on the first items of clothing my hands touched (and thank goodness I change into scrubs the moment I get to work because these items did not happen to match) I saw I had received a text message from my friend’s husband (the friend I was throwing the baby shower for) stating the baby had arrived that morning! I had no time to process this exciting information as I was flying around the house like the Tasmanian Devil. I began thinking through the happy dilemma of what to do about the baby shower the next day while I was in the car, but didn’t have enough mental capacity at that point to make any sensible decisions. Work was brutal and I hit the ground running and didn’t stop the entire day. Through all this, I was trying to get messages to various people to figure out what to do with the party. Through all this, I was thinking, “God! This is not the peace and rest I asked for!”
By the end of the day, we had decided to cancel the baby shower. Part of me was really disappointed. I really wanted to decorate the house in baby blue and white streamers, pompoms, and garland. I had been looking forward to decorating little onesie cookies, baking brownies, and setting up the food table. I desperately wanted to have a “Pinterest worthy” get together and have this perfect little world I created in my mind come to fruition. The Lord was gracious to me, as a Father is with his child, and said no. I asked for rest. He gave me the night off from baking, decorating, and stressing. He gave me the following day off from setting up, playing hostess, and cleaning up. He gave me time to watch some TV, write, and rest. I may still be disappointed, but I am also thankful that my loving Savior takes such good care of me and listens when I pray to Him. I may not know what I’m asking for when I pray, but I am blessed that God is not just a vending machine. He gives us more than what we ask for. He gives the best gifts possible, whether we expect them, ask for them, or deserve them. Praise the Lord.