In speaking about why she married my grandfather, my grandmother used to say, “I married him because his feet were on the ground. What I didn’t realize was that they were stuck in the mud.” While my grandfather had some wonderful attributes- spontaneity, imagination, risk-taking are not the ones that come to mind.
The other day I heard a commentary on the radio about the way God answers prayers. I have always heard that the standard answers to prayer are “Yes”, “No” and “Wait”. On this morning, the person was saying that sometimes God doesn’t always respond the same way to a similar request. In essence, just because he answered one way to a situation, doesn’t mean that He will again answer that way. We have to be willing to accept God’s current answer and not assume that the answer will always be the same.
Take the problem of the Israelites crossing different bodies of water in their nomadic history. At different times in their history they had a water obstacle to traverse. Just because God answered their crossing prayers one way he didn’t answer the same way later in their story.
One of the first times we see them encounter a water obstacle is when the Israelites have to cross the Red Sea. They had left Egypt in a hurry and were walking in the direction of the sea. They get to a place where the sea is before them and the Egyptians behind. In the miracle of the Red Sea, God parted the Red Sea before the Israelites took a first step into it. It was dry land on which they traversed. (Exodus 14: 21, 22)
Later in the story of the Israelites’ journey to the Promised land, they had to cross the River Jordan. It was only after they put their feet into the water did the waters part. For them, the miracle didn’t begin immediately. They had to move into the water. In essence, they continued into unknown territory not knowing if God would show up if they kept walking into the water. They weren’t sure how far they needed to get in before He rescued them: Wet toes? Wet ankles? Wet knees? In this crossing, their miracle included wet feet. (Joshua 3: 11)
It got me thinking about the prayer requests I have for God. Do I have a preconceived idea of how He will answer? It goes beyond my requesting a specific outcome. Am I expecting the answer to be the same and answered in the same manner based on how He answered in the past or how He may have answered someone else in a similar situation?
Am I stuck in the mud unwilling to walk a few yards into the water? Do I remember how God did things in the past and expect, sometimes demand that He continue doing things in the same vein? Do I have the courage to let Him answer as He sees fit? Even if that means getting my feet wet?
I believe that God is faithful, consistent and the same today as He has always been and will always be. But, His ways are not my ways and He has a plan that may just shake things up.
When I turn over my hopes and dreams to God, do I truly turn them over? Every last detail and every last outcome? Do I allow Him to hold and manage those hopes and dreams even if that means mixing it up for me?
As I continue my writing journey, I am aware of colleagues who had different reactions to their writing: some have had immediate recognition, others struggle along. When I hear of the ones who have had “success”, I need to scale back my expectation that God will answer my prayer in the same way.
What about you? Have you ever had prayer requests that were similar but God responded in a different outcome? Were you able to go along with the change in plan and outcome? If not, why not?
Are you willing to get your feet a little wet if God asks you to? If you are struggling with an on-going prayer request, hang in there. God hears you. He might just be working things in your heart and mind so that you are ready to get unstuck.