But I, through the abundance of your steadfast love will enter your house,
I will bow down toward your holy temple in awe of you.
Lead me, O LORD, in your righteousness,
because of my enemies;
make your way straight before me.
It’s sometimes unnerving how God’s timing works. I suppose we’ve all experienced it at one time or another. Some, I reckon, have chalked it up to coincidence, others to a “wow” experience, but truth of the matter is, it’s God’s little way of saying – see – I know what’s going on, I’m in charge, do you get the hint?
It was what seems like a hundred years ago. The place was Hereford, Texas. I was still in College, my final year, and pastoring Avenue Baptist Church full time. My wife Paula, was pregnant and there were a myriad of things going on in the church, at school, and in our personal lives. I was, in all candor, buckling under the weight. But there was no way I was going to show “weakness” to my wife, or anyone else for that matter.
One evening, we were watching an episode of Bonanza. Some of you reading this may not even know what that show is, but back in the 70’s it was a very popular weekly Western series. In this particular episode, (here goes the memory again) I think Pa Cartright was gravely ill or had been in an accident and near death. Hoss, the biggest and strongest of the three sons overcome with despair, took a walk in the woods near the ranch house, to be alone. At one point he stops, looks up at the sky and simply begins to cry and says, “God I don’t understand why” or something similar. Whatever he said, triggered the floodgates of my emotions and I sat in my chair and began to cry uncontrollably.
I could not believe what was happening in my life; in our life; why was all this going on? What had I done to bring this on?
As I’m writing this, it seems to me, that that period may have been the beginning of the “end” for me in some respects. That may have been the time when I started “fighting” instead of learning or growing.
Now you’ll probably think this is silly – but it took a movie we watched this weekend to wake me up to a certain reality. The movie was Evan Almighty, it’s the comedy about the guys who is told by “God” to build an ark. Well in that segment, Morgan Freeman (who plays god) has a scene where he explains some things to Evan’s wife. Things about how God works. It goes something like this:
“When you ask God for patience, does he give you patience, or does he give you situations where you need to exercise patience?”
“When you ask God for courage, does he give you courage, or does he give you situations where you need to be courageous?”
When watching that scene and hearing those words, the tears started to flow because I knew there were some pretty significant times in my life when I missed some opportunities to learn some things – as a direct answer to prayer but I expected a product not a process!
Oh my, no wonder I always thought the “cost was too high”. When you’re expecting the admission to be free, because of your own ignorance, you can’t blame the guy at the ticket booth when it comes time to pay for the ticket!
Simple truths could lead to profound changes.