The Responder

I hadn’t planned it would be, but this time at Camp Nana has become sort of a reflecting post. In between visits from neighbors and family who are quite comfortable using Nana’s revolving door, I’ve had a few unplanned minutes here and there to absorb the impact of this major transition.

One of the things I keep coming back to (in what could easily appear a sea of wayward waves that has tossed my life to-and-fro) is that God has heard my prayers. Even some of the tangential thoughts that became prayers (that I only somehow remember) have elicited a response from God.

I’m a prayer person. I’ve fallen in love with communing with God — an idea that, when it was just an idea, frankly used to bore me to tears. But in the midst of some of my darkest moments, I found that the pastime which I’d relegated to little old ladies whose bodies couldn’t do the real work of God, was actually one I relished.

But even so, in the back of my mind, I wasn’t wholly convinced that God responded to those prayers. I migrated towards the little strokes I received from Him when it seemed the world around me couldn’t possibly understand me. That was the prayer I loved. But the requests–the heart-cries–felt a little more like releasing a helium balloon into space. A symbolic act with no repercussions, easily forgotten.

Just like with a lot of things, however, I kept doing it. Certainly there were more than a few moments when I felt an “unction” of sorts behind those prayers. And I had also seen results (exhibit A: the two little ones who have rocked my world). But a good percentage of my prayers felt like words, not vacant or vain, but slightly gratuitous.

I probably wouldn’t have even noticed that this was the case–it was buried so deep in my subconscious and hadn’t festered in such a way as to impact my actions–had it not been for the surprise I experienced as I looked at my past.

Standing here, now, looking back, my life is a strung-together series of God-responses to even my most flippant requests. From those naive prayers I prayed almost 10 years ago that I “would experience more of God”, to the weeks and months I was stuck in Proverbs 3 begging for supernatural wisdom to steer through life’s curve balls, to the one time I asked God for a child who was a cuddler, and the quick prayer I prayed in the car on the way to my father’s funeral that God would show Himself to me as Father … He’s responded.

I had no idea when I casually asked God to give me His heart for the poor, that I would land myself a path-to-motherhood on the dusty roads of Ethiopia–among corrugated steel shacks and parasite-stricken street children.

Nor did I comprehend, when I asked God to give me His eyes for my husband that I would have the ability, much less the desire, to radically shift the way I approached our marriage, and him.

When I asked for a bond with Caleb, I didn’t realize that kid would capture my heart.

Words matter to God.

And I’m surprised that my inventory of the past ten years is revealing that they haven’t been just a God-imposed plan for my life (that I insert my face into like a character cut-out at the fair), but instead, a beautiful collaboration that has become a series of elaborate story boards.

I can’t help but cry as I type this. He is so much better than I ever thought He was. He’s moved from dictator, in my mind — no, more like puppeteer — to cherished friend and Father.

I find myself standing at the doorstep of change, carrying a heart full of expectation. If even half-hearted petitions have invited this impact from a powerful God, than my requests are far too small. The glass ceiling I’ve constructed is being exposed.

I want more. Not in the way so many fear would be the “extreme” of believing in the power of God manifested through prayer. I want more of Him. I want all that I can have of Him while my feet walk this earth. I want to encounter, personally, the depths of His love. I want to travel the extent of His character. I want to explore His intellect. I want to carry His heart. All these responses to my prayers have made me more hungry for the Responder.

He loves to involve us in His work. And if it means more of Him, I’m all in.

I just finished reading (more like devouring) a friend’s early manuscript novel on sex trafficking that has both haunted my thoughts and re-directed my prayers. It opened my eyes to a world I’d like to pretend doesn’t exist. I have no grid for this kind of pain and extortion and no tangible way at the moment to respond other than pray.

I have to admit this is a bit awkward for me, with my newly discovered awareness of how I so often have treated prayer like vapor. I am praying for girls to be freed from slavery whose names I don’t know and faces I can’t picture. I am praying for justice in situations whose injustice I have not first-hand witnessed. And I’m asking my children (in very general ways, of course) to pray with me.

As I fumble my way through these prayers, a catalyst is that my life is beginning to represent a series of a prayers-come-to-fruition. I know He’s hearing me. And I think somewhere, somehow, a precious girl’s life is being impacted by my ignorant and many-times-too-timid prayers.

He loves to involve us in His work.