Article 36 : Letters from the desk of a Great-Grandfather
A Call For Today.
I'm sure we've all had some great answers to prayer in the last year. For us, there are a few that stand out. Firstly, we've been praying since June that the vaccine would be available by Christmas and that we'd get our injections by the year end. We persevered in spite of the regular statements from "experts" that it couldn't happen, that it would be Spring or Summer 2021 before the vaccine became available. We had our second injections in early January and see that as a wonderful gift from our Heavenly Father. In addition, we pray continually for the safety of our grandson working as a drilling engineer in Suriname. Last week he was caught up in a threatening situation with a very large, local and angry gentleman. This chap had run his motorbike into Ollie's stationary car, hoping for an insurance claim. He then attacked the car with a sizeable piece of wood. We thank God that Ollie was able to lock himself in the car, and was rescued by the site security team before any harm was done (to Ollie that is. The car is a mess!) Thank you Father.
I believe that every answered prayer is a gift from Father, as well as a joy to be thankful for, and a vindication of our faith. Each one acts as an encouragement to go on and widen our prayers. I must add however that there are more than Ruth and I praying about the vaccine!! Indeed there are Kingdom wide prayers going on around the world similar to our own. No one person or church can ever claim credit for answers like these.
The thing is though, not every prayer we offer up gets an immediate and positive answer. At least not straight away, And this can be hard to handle when we are dealing with really important family issues, or our health - such as my hip operation, delayed since September 2019. There was great rejoicing here when I finally got a date, January 25th, 2021, only for it to be postponed a week ago. It can lead us to repeat some of the unrecorded comments of the disciples when they were caught in the furious storm on the lake. "Where is God in this?" "Doesn't he realise what's happening?", or even to go on (temporarily, hopefully) to question God's love or ability. " Why doesn't He.......?
I have no intention of sitting here pontificating like an ultracrepidarian ( google it!) on such a deep philosophical and theological matter. God deliver us from such "armchair experts". The word expert, incidentally, comes from two Greek words: ex, meaning has been and spurt, which is a drip under pressure!!
Let me just mention a couple of things that I've picked up over my 60 plus years of following Jesus. Firstly, while I strongly believe that every prayer is heard, it isn't just pushed into a "pending tray" for when God has time to get round to it. He loves us, wants the best for us, and feels our pain. But ( and here's the big thing) his agenda and his timing are sometimes very different to ours. He has all the facts, knows all the connected situations and possible outcomes. There are times, I confess, when my prayer is not that his will be done, but that he approves of mine!
So what should we do? Follow the proverb which states "If at first you don't succeed, give up?!" Give up on prayer? Give up on God? Some do. Life can knock us hard, knock us backward, and demotivate us to carry on. But as Rocky Balboa said, "The winner is the one who gets up again and is standing at the end!"
So we have to go on praying even more, even harder.
"Be joyful always; pray CONTINUALLY; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus".(1 Thess.5vv15,16) These verses were described by one of my heroes, John Wesley,as being at the heart of discipleship. Incidentally I read only this week that, when well into his eighties, he confessed to oversleeping sometimes and not getting into his daily prayer until as late as 5.30 am. That's an encouragement .......I think!
Pray and keep on praying. How hard is that? Don't look at the situation, look at God. "Turn your eyes upon Jesus, look full in his wonderful face". We will see great things. The Kingdom will be demonstrated and extended and our God will be honoured and thanked. For it all comes from him - everything worthwhile that is.
So keep praying. Pray big. Pray small. Don't give up. And don't worry if people think you are talking to yourself. You're not!
Stay safe. Stick to the rules. Stay distanced. Stay on your knees.