Eli lost his gameboy a week ago.
If you know us, you know this is traumatic. He loves that thing. I do think it is a blessing, for the time being - even as I do hope for his sake we find it.
The painful part was his prayer tonight.
"Dear God, Please Please please help me find my gameboy. Please help me find it right away in the morning, when I first wake up. I have asked you every night for three nights to please please help me find it.
You can do it. You have all the power. I don't know why you don't want to? It's sort of confusing to me. But please help me find it. In Jesus name, Amen."
He walked away, blew his nose ( Allergy season!) and as he threw his tissue away, he began to pray again.
"God, thank you for mom and dad and Julia. Thanks for this day too. Amen"
He looked at me and said;
"You know mom, every time I go to pray, all I can think about is my gameboy. But I know those other things are important and God wants to hear about them too."
I remember somewhere along the way learning not to pray such things. Much like the disciples told the children not to approach Jesus. Jesus taught them otherwise. I'm once again learning to pray for help to find my keys when they're lost. :-) Eli's already got the lesson learned from the persistent widow in practice...:-)
Bigger than that though, is the process of learning that God isn't Santa Claus. He's better. And I would say that my pain is because it is hard for a 6 year old to comprehend that, but in reality, his prayer is so touching because it is so honestly where we all have been at one point or another, even as adults.
I prayed the same words when I desperately wanted to be free of panic attacks, & anxiety. I've prayed it over lesser wants. I prayed it when our daughter was dying.
There is something painful about the process of comprehending just how great God's power is, and then understanding it's not always "up for grabs" in the manner that we ask just because we ask for it.
Some experience that, and upon learning it, walk away. I did, for a while.
The temptation comes when we perceive a "no", or at least a delay in God's response to us. We begin to tell ourselves that maybe He doesn't really exist, or maybe He's not so powerful. Or maybe we're not worthy. And then our anger is directed to God for making us this way and then not accepting us.... the lies all take different forms, but they are all pretty powerful.
In my case, I tried to talk myself into being an atheist. I wasn't successful in the depths of my heart, in spite genuine effort and motivation at the time. His presence and existence are just undeniable, and was so even in my anger. So I settled for believing in Him, but refusing to worship a God that would allow such things to happen and refuse to answer such simple prayers.
What a common spiritual battle... God battles for us to really know Him. Satan battles for us to shallowly believe we already do.
I'm thankful for the story of the prodigal son. And Peter. And the sinful woman. I'm thankful I had precedence to come back after such actions.
Somewhere along the way we begin to limit our image of God to our own sense of justice and logic. No wonder we would quickly tire of worshipping Him. If He didn't call us to a greater understanding of Himself outside the perimeters of ourselves, we would most likely end up worshipping the mirror... being impressed with all the good things we could call God into action for.
But His "No's", and His delays... His permission for pain to enter our life; they all make us take a second glance at who we think He is. The doubts bring about right questions... and if hang in there and we really grapple with them, we get deeper, better, answers than the superficial ones we often satisfied ourselves with previously.
No doubt, this is a risk.
Some walk away, for a time. Some walk away forever.
But for those that grapple with it - for those that begin to understand their place in relation to Him instead of His power in relation to them...they win. He gains worshippers who truly serve Him and not an image of Him in their own mind, and they find what they had always hoped was there...
Presence and working in every situation.
Promises and Trust.
Even when the gameboy stays lost and the daughter remains in the grave. (For now....)
I grew up learning of God. I thought I knew God was powerful. I thought I understood His love and goodness.
But in His refusal to instantly gratify some of my wants, in His willingness to tell me no, I began to understand a depth of His power and the intensity of
His love that far superseded my imagination.
And the peace I rest in daily because of that assurance is more satisfying than any artificial peace I would have created by having every whim my limited imagination could dream up answered and put into place.
God has said yes to things I never even dared to pray out of embarrassment. He has said no to things I desperately pleaded for.
And I have learned He is worthy of every last bit of praise I have to offer... everytime.