Wednesday, February 17, 2016

But If Not

After a long day at school last week, I was driving home in the dark.  I wrote about this one other time, but I get a little anxious driving that road at nighttime.  There are a wooded areas and a lot of fields that I drive past-- the perfect combination to spot some form of wildlife crossing the road.

So I prayed these words, like I have so many other times:  

Father God,
Please protect me from any inattentive, unaware, distracted drivers on the way home, including myself.  Also, please protect me from any animals wanting to cross right now.  Thank you, in advance, for delivering me home safely.  Amen.

Much to my surprise a few minutes later, I was greeted by a doe leaping across the highway.  I slammed on my brakes to avoid hitting her.

                                       Photo by Amy Tuley

I missed hitting the deer.  I was safe.  She was safe.  No harm done.  But it got me to thinking...

Although I was surprised to see the deer, God did protect me.  That is the first time I have seen an animal in my path since I started praying that prayer.  But He did protect me.  I didn't hit it.  The timing was perfect.  If I had been five or ten seconds further down the road or going faster than I was, then I would have unavoidably made contact.  

But what if it turned out differently?  What if I had hit the deer?  

Would that mean God doesn't listen to my prayers?  Should I stop praying that prayer or for protection from other things that might go wrong?  Would it mean that God loved me any less than before I hit the deer?

No, no, no.  A resounding no to all of those questions.

I believe God hears our prayers, every single one.  I also believe He answers every single one.  I do not believe that His answer will always be "Yes."  There is a reason why He is God...and I am not.  Just because I pray for something fervently does not mean it is good for me.  Maybe God has something better planned for me that I cannot see yet.  Maybe the answer is "No" because my reason for wanting it is selfish or impure.

Is it selfish or impure to want to get home safely without incident?  I don't think it is.  God delivered me home safely that night and so many others....

But if not?  Maybe He would use me to witness to the auto mechanic fixing the van.   Or a doctor or nurse who might be taking care of any injuries I sustained.  I know that God works all things for good for those who are called according to His purpose.  Even if I cannot see the good works of His mighty hand, it doesn't mean He stopped doing them.

But if not?  Those three little words remind me of some big-time faith heroes in the Bible.  You know the ones.  When faced with the choice between worshipping a worldly statue or being condemned to death, they chose the hard choice, the godly choice.   Shadrach, Meschach, and Abednego would not bow to the idol; their faith made them stand strong.  They said God would protect them from the fiery furnace.  But if not?   They still wouldn't bow down.  Nothing would take them away from worshipping the one and only true God, not even death itself.

Dear God,

I pray that I might have faith like Shadrach, Meschach, and Abednego.  I pray that no matter what circumstances I face--whether it be a deer in the road or something more dire--that I would stand strong.

But if not?  I know You hear me and You love me.  Your love is unchanging.  You do protect me from obstacles I can see in front of me, but, more importantly, from the ones I cannot see.  You have a plan bigger than anything I can ever imagine, a plan that is far more-reaching than my own little viewpoint, a perfect plan.  Thank you for taking my fears and for giving me strength far greater than my own.  

In Jesus's name.  Amen.

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