Walking Our Faith: When you’ve tried everything but this
April 1, 2017
On Monday, Henry, Max, and I walked along the muddy road where islands of snow clung to the surface they'd recently covered.
On Tuesday, a snowstorm moved in and by evening, cars slid as they tried to gain purchase at the hairpin turn leading up Hoosier Pass. I only know that from a picture posted on Facebook, as I was tucked in at home watching a foot of new snow cover my muddy driveway, while I read "Upstream," a collection of essays by the poet, Mary Oliver. One sentence was so lovely I had to copy it into my journal, "So quickly, without a moment's warning, does the miraculous swerve and point to us, demanding that we be its willing servant."
And I was reminded that blessings have the same capricious quality as spring snow in the Rockies and epiphanies. We can pray and pray and pray for a thing without seeing a jot of movement. When out of the blue the answer arrives from a direction we never expected and changes everything. We had no hand in the miracle, we could not have predicted, or done anything to hurry its arrival. It is an unexpected outpouring of God's love.
Miracles make our walk of faith thrilling and maddening and scary at times. And in between these unpredictable moments of grace we live the paradox of faith: The confident assurance that something we want is going to happen … the certainty that what we hope for is waiting for us even though we cannot see it up ahead." (Hebrews 11:1)
Yes, we assure ourselves, we can trust God reminding ourselves of how he answered our needs in the past. But we might also fall into the temptation of trying to hurry God along, as if we could conjure another miracle with the right incantation of tearful prayers or demonstrations of our worthiness.
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No matter how many times we have been blessed, had a desperate prayer answered at just the right moment, when the next crisis arrives we begin to worry again. Yes, we assure ourselves, we can trust God reminding ourselves of how he answered our needs in the past. But we might also fall into the temptation of trying to hurry God along, as if we could conjure another miracle with the right incantation of tearful prayers or demonstrations of our worthiness. I have been guilty of this when remembering the last time God answered a prayer I had prayed a certain way. So, this time I invoke the same prayer and am dismayed and a bit angry when nothing happens.
But God is on to us and knows better than we do when and where our answer must come. He knows that we love him and trust him, but part of growing our faith is patience when we expect this answer to look the same as the last answer and discover it does not.
When we first come into a relationship with God, our prayers seem to be answered quickly and we feel as if God is always near. Our faith in God is strengthened when we must trust him because every effort we've made on our own behalf has failed. We grow in our faith when, during our unanswered prayer, we seek God earnestly to know his attributes as not only God the Creator, but also God our Father.
We will know that we are no longer spiritual children when we face uncertainty and still trust God. When we can say, "Thy will be done" without our fingers crossed behind our backs, without stating conditions. But say, "Thy will be done," knowing that God's will for us is better than anything we could imagine, because his love for us is greater than anything we've ever experienced.
That is where I want to be. That place of incredible trust in God, where I say, "Thy will be done" without reservation but expectant joy to see what God has planned. That courageous surrender is where I believe God sees us move from walking to running. And closer to the person we were created to become. This is where God has brought me.
In this surrendered space, where we detach our will from an outcome, is where miracles occur. As Mary Oliver wrote, "So quickly, without a moment's warning, does the miraculous swerve and point to us, demanding that we be its willing servant."
Suzanne Anderson is the author of "Love in a Time of War" and other books. You can reach her at Suzanne@suzanneelizabeths.com or facebook.com/suzanneelizabeths