Often, the Lord blesses me miraculously by leading me to the passages I am looking for, even when I am not sure where they are. Sometimes I feel that this is a sort of game we play together, God and I: I pray and ask Him to help me find some verses, and He answers and leads me to them.
Yesterday, He took me on a detour along the way, which I am writing about on Seeking Wisdom, Craving Grace (please check it out; it's a another really great story).
But eventually I did find the verses I was looking for:
The assurance I was looking for was right there in verse 1: We should always pray and not give up. That's what I was looking for, and there it was. Encouragement to persevere in prayer. Even when it seems like nothing is happening, like nothing is going to happen, like nothing could possibly happen, we should still always pray and not give up. Nothing is impossible for God.
Then Jesus told his disciples a parable to show them that they should always pray and not give up.
He said: “In a certain town there was a judge who neither feared God nor cared what people thought. And there was a widow in that town who kept coming to him with the plea, ‘Grant me justice against my adversary.’
“For some time he refused. But finally he said to himself, ‘Even though I don’t fear God or care what people think, yet because this widow keeps bothering me, I will see that she gets justice, so that she won’t eventually come and attack me!’”
And the Lord said, “Listen to what the unjust judge says. And will not God bring about justice for his chosen ones, who cry out to him day and night? Will he keep putting them off?"
~Luke 18:1-7 (NIV)
The rest of the passage reminded me that God loves His children and graciously gives good gifts to those who ask. I thought of the place where Jesus says, "Which of you, if your son asks for a fish, will give him a snake?" So I went looking for that.
Guess where it was?
Luke 11:11. 11:11. (Please click on that link if you don't already know about the significance 11:11 has for me.) This discovery was a love letter from God to me, a special kiss. Dark chocolate and diamonds.
“Which of you fathers, if your son asks for a fish, will give him a snake instead? Or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion? If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!” ~Luke 11:11-13 (NIV)I hope this means that the Lord will also give the Holy Spirit, somehow, to those we intercede for, who are too blinded and bound to ask for themselves. Hope itself is from God; He is the source of all hope, and the power of His Holy Spirit fills us with overflowing hope (and joy and peace, Romans 15:13).
God is in the business of rescuing and restoring. That is who He is and what He does. He cares for the lost. He seeks wandering sheep. He came for the sick, not the healthy. He died for sinners.
I know all these things, and yet I still find myself doubting and despairing. So He reaches into my world, takes a verse that encourages me to pray with hope in His goodness, and He connects it to a number He has already made meaningful to me. Obviously, He didn't just do it last night. He set it up before the foundation of the world, amongst every other detail of His plans for the Universe, knowing (imagine this) that I would discover this particular connection on that particular night and be comforted by His unfailing love for me. The thought boggles my mind. How can I doubt a God like this? How can I despair, when He is in control?
Then, Shawn was on another trip this past week. He was supposed to be coming home today, flying from Pittsburgh to Newark to Chicago, and then finally to here. He was supposed to get home late in the afternoon. The morning began with snow in Pennsylvania.
Last night, I steeled myself for the worst. I told myself, "It's okay. There might be weather and delays. I will just be thankful if he gets home by Saturday." And then I had a talk with God (being home alone all week, I had lots of talks with God). I said, "Please bring him home safe. You know, even if there is snow on the east coast, maybe you could cancel his flight to Newark and let him go straight to Chicago." Then I remembered that it doesn't generally go well for me when I make suggestions to God about what He could do, so I gave myself a small, mental swat and got on to other things.
Guess what? This morning I got a text from Shawn saying that they had canceled his flight to Newark and booked him straight through to Chicago, and he would be getting in three hours early. None of his flights were late. They were all on time. He is here now, working from home in his study.
This is my God, the one who hears my prayers and rejoices to give me good things. I can trust Him. He loves me.
Give me a sign of your goodness, that my enemies may see it and be put to shame, for you, Lord, have helped me and comforted me. ~Psalm 86:17 (NIV)Our enemies are not people. "Our enemies" are the devil. He will surely be put to shame, while justice, mercy and love will prevail. Hallelujah.
(disclaimer: I am having trouble getting things written in a timely fashion due to computer access issues. This did not happen "yesterday." It happened