I began thinking about what we are willing to wait for. How many of us are willing to wait in outrageously long lines for the things we want? There can be day (or even week) long waits for things like movies releases, concert tickets, or events (people actually camp out in lines!). Hour upon hour long waits for amusement rides, autographs, or holiday sales. Somehow, we measure our "need" for these things to be more valuable than our time or comfort. And those are just things: here-today-gone-tomorrow things! We are willing to wake up at 2am, stand outside in odd weather, and almost get trampled to get our hands on the "gotta-have-it" toys/gifts. Why is it then that so few of us are willing to wait for God? We walk up to His "ticket-window", say "one miracle, please", and expect to walk away with it right then and there. If we don't get it immediately, we quickly resort to begging, negotiating, or worse. We can get angry, hurt and disgruntled so quickly and then it's "there must not be a God", or "He doesn't hear me" or "His answer must be 'no'". Then, we give up, walk away and resent God. But God doesn't work on our time. Over and over in the Bible, God required patience from those He was going to bless. Not always, but many times. Who among us is willing to "pitch a tent" in God's "line" to get what we want? Who would wake up at 2am and stand outside in the cold to get in on His powerful acts? My guess: not many. The Bible says time and time again to be patient and wait for the Lord (my favorite, Psalm 27:14, "Wait for the Lord, be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord".) There are also many references to persistently seeking out God if you want a response. (The parable of the Persistent Widow, Luke 18:1-8). (see also http://gracethrufaith.com/selah/parables/the-parable-of-the-persistent-widow/). As far as I can tell through reading the Bible, it seems God asks the following of us when we are making requests of Him. 1. To confess our sins and turn from them. 2. To ask Him persistently and diligently ("Pray without ceasing” 1 Thes. 5:17) 3. To wait patiently for God to show up and answer our request. We can't expect that sending up a 30 second prayer while sitting in a bar, telling dirty jokes and gossiping about the waitress will get any results. God is faithful and He does know where you are at in your faith so I don't believe He requires perfection, but I do believe he looks to see how you handle what He has already given you to determine what more He should give. (Luke 12:48). When we don't make any changes in our lives, when we expect God to work like a ticket-counter, or follow "black-Friday" rules, is it any wonder we don't get what we ask for? And who knows how often our rush to get an answer actually limits what God is going to do because we make rushed decisions?
To quote Casting Crowns: "What if His people prayed?"
All this is to say that I'm doing my very best to wait patiently for God while continuously asking Him for Samuel's health. I won't stop asking until I'm holding my precious and perfectly healthy son in my arms. Then my praising and asking can turn solely into praise! Only a few more weeks to go :) *OK, 8-10 weeks, but still...
There are examples in the Bible of times where people have actually convinced God to change His mind about things. The outcomes changes because people were willing to wait for God and fight for their cause. Here is an example (see: http://extraordinaryvisions.wordpress.com/2007/06/11/does-god-change-his-mind/):
1 In those days Hezekiah became ill and was at the point of death. The prophet Isaiah son of Amoz went to him and said, “This is what the LORD says: Put your house in order, because you are going to die; you will not recover.”
2 Hezekiah turned his face to the wall and prayed to the LORD, 3 “Remember, LORD, how I have walked before you faithfully and with wholehearted devotion and have done what is good in your eyes.” And Hezekiah wept bitterly.
and there is the story of Jonah:4 Then the word of the LORD came to Isaiah: 5 “Go and tell Hezekiah, ‘This is what the LORD, the God of your father David, says: I have heard your prayer and seen your tears; I will add fifteen years to your life. 6 And I will deliver you and this city from the hand of the king of Assyria. I will defend this city.” Isaiah 38:1-6
1 Then the word of the LORD came to Jonah a second time: 2 “Go to the great city of Nineveh and proclaim to it the message I give you.” (…)
4 …”Forty more days and Nineveh will be overturned.” Jonah 3:1-2, 4
How did the Ninevites respond?
5 The Ninevites believed God. They declared a fast, and all of them, from the greatest to the least, put on sackcloth.
6 When the news reached the king of Nineveh, he rose from his throne, took off his royal robes, covered himself with sackcloth and sat down in the dust. 7 Then he issued a proclamation in Nineveh:
”By the decree of the king and his nobles:
Do not let any man or beast, herd or flock, taste anything; do not let them eat or drink. 8 But let man and beast be covered with sackcloth. Let everyone call urgently on God. Let them give up their evil ways and their violence. 9 Who knows? God may yet relent and with compassion turn from his fierce anger so that we will not perish.”
How did God Respond?
10 When God saw what they did and how they turned from their evil ways, he had compassion and did not bring upon them the destruction he had threatened. Jonah 3:5-10