Job 22:21-22 Submit to God and be at peace with him; in this way prosperity will come to you. Accept instruction from his mouth and lay up his words in your heart.” NIV
A very long time ago, I got down on my knees in my naive, new wife, new mother way and prayed that God would give me patience. He gave me 6 children and a military husband who was gone half the year. What a sense of humor He has!!!! I never, ever prayed for patience again. I always warned my girlfriends against praying for patience as well. In my opinion, you must leave nothing to chance when asking God for things. You must lay out your prayers very carefully, with thoughtfulness and foresight. Asking for random things, especially things that you could very well accomplish yourself, will just lead you to find out just how literal your Father will take your requests!
There are many times in my life when I have become lazy and self important. I would go to God in prayer, but only to let Him know how I was going to do things and ask Him if He would please pre-approve things. In my first half, I was all about telling God how it was going to be. He would let me skip merrily through my days, thinking I was all that, and then WHAM! I would find out just how much of a spoiled child I was being! I can’t tell you how many times I would tell everyone just what I thought of their sinful ways and their really bad ideas. After all, I was so sure that I knew just what they needed to fix their problems. I often wondered why I had no friends, why I was never invited to play dates with other mothers and their children, why I was never asked to teach the Sunday School class. But I would tell myself it was because I was so wonderful, they didn’t want to be reminded about how bad things were for them by being around someone as perfect as me! You laugh! I am serious! I was,by all accounts, a self centered, self righteous, pain in the you know what!
I made many errors in judgement that have taken years to make right. I didn’t go to my oldest daughter’s wedding because I was sure she was making a mistake. She wouldn’t listen to any of my advice. She has now been married over 10 years and has three of our awesome grandchildren and an amazing husband who adores her. So much for my advice. I put work ahead of family and missed out on many many never to be replaced moments in my children’s lives. When I found myself alone again, for the third time, I had tons of money in the bank but nothing in the savings account of my soul. I had a wildly successful business but not one friend I could turn to in a time of need.
I remember clearly the day I turned my life over to God. It wasn’t the big step I took last year, but it was a small step towards making things right. I stopped putting customers ahead of children. I listened instead of talked. I made a friend who has been my shoulder through many many times of joy and sadness. That friendship started when I stopped working every day and started sitting on some bleachers watching our daughters cheer for basketball players who considered us a nuisance instead of an asset! It was just one small step. But then there was another and another and another until I was running towards God. It took me another five years to get it right. Five years of falling on my face, time after time. Bruised and battered, alone and afraid, I finally asked God to forgive my arrogance, forgive my selfishness, and forgive my wasted years. And do you know what He did? He wiped my face, brushed off the dirt, and pushed me back into the chaos that is my life!
Somewhere along the line I must have prayed an open ended prayer again. Because He certainly has to be laughing at me…. again! I think I remember a couple of months ago, begging Him to help me get over my worry about my son being in Afghanistan. As a matter of fact I am SURE that was the prayer that started this whole mess. Because now, thanks to that prayer, I don’t have a moment to THINK about my son and the war that goes on over there! It’s all I can do to remember to get a box out to him and a letter in the mail. I was so proud of myself right after he left. I was mailing 2 boxes a week, writing letters to him, his sisters, and all my family every Sunday, greeting at church, cooking for volunteers, and writing a blog on top of that! Now here I was, thinking I was all that again! Thanks to that open ended prayer I now have a daughter who has blessed us with a beautiful grand baby and a son who needs full time care and a business that is bursting at the seams. Throw in my speaking schedule and my book I am trying to write, youngest daughter’s homeschooling, and sweethearts wild and wacky schedule and you have the true definition of insanity!
But do you know what the coolest thing of all is? This time, I have friends who pray with me, for me, and on behalf of me. I have a best friend who hears me with her heart. I have a sweetheart who looks past the stress and the grey hair and loves the woman underneath. I have a dr who was able to diagnose that I was having plain old anxiety attacks instead of the heart attack I swore I was having daily! I have amazing children who love and forgive their selfish mother. I have beautiful grandchildren who make my every moment a more precious one. I have a church full of broken people who are just like me who don’t judge or make me feel like I can’t measure up. I have absolutely the best job in the world with clients who are friends and who understand that my family comes first and are willing to let me cancel at the last minute without getting mad. I have a warm snug home that makes me feel refreshed and rejuvinated. I have a boss/friend who lets me do what my heart longs to do and speak/represent her company at trade shows. And most of all I have a God who listens, loves, watches, and walks with me every step of the way. Guiding, teaching, making me a better person than I ever was before. But I Know that He is still my Father. Because while He loves to smile down on me, He gets so much more pleasure at laughing at the surprised look on my face when He answers another prayer in His way and not mine!