Waiting for Warmer Weather

For a while it seemed like spring was never going to come.  This winter had been long and we just couldn’t seem to shake the cold weather.  Last week, however, we seemed to turn a corner and the daydreams of playing outside and walking to the park were finally becoming reality.

During one particularly warm day, I decided to load the boys up in our double stroller to go for a long walk…and Isaiah decided that the spring weather was a fantastic excuse to get ice-cream.  I did not argue.

We walked to our favorite ice-cream store, which seems so much farther away when walking to it…not to mention while pushing both boys in a stroller.  After enjoying our treat, we headed for home and I was surprised to be breaking a sweat.  Could spring finally be here?

As we walked, we talked about lots of things.  Though our 4 year old conversation seems to usually always come back to some kind of animal facts.  Isaiah had taken a break from his chatter and I could tell the little wheels of his mind were turning.  A few minutes later, he looked up at me and asked…

“Mom, I’ve been asking God to make it warmer outside for a long time.  Why did He make it warm today, but He didn’t answer before?”

A simple, logical question…with profound, deep theological meaning.

His big blue eyes waited patiently for my response, obviously completely naive to the gravity of his question.  It struck me that he would already ask this…considering I hadn’t really questioned God’s seemingly silence until I was an adult begging God for a baby.

Part of me was thrilled that he was talking to God on his own, as I had never heard him pray for warmer weather before.  The other part of me was intimidated by his question.  Realizing that even in something “trivial” like the weather, it could really be a deep-seeded question of God’s goodness…and whether or not He really hears.   

“Parents, if you love your children, do all that lies in your power to train them up to a habit of prayer.  Show them how to begin.  Tell them what to say. Encourage them to persevere…Let it not be your fault, at any rate, if they never call on the name of the Lord.”

– J.C. Ryle

In that moment I was again reminded that teaching my children to pray is a whole lot more than teaching them words to say.  I needed to teach him to persevere.  Needed to help him wrap his head around God’s sovereignty.  Needed to model to him what it looks like to sacrifice your own will for the will of our Father’s.

It feels a whole lot easier to just teach a “Now I lay me…” prayer.  But I never want it to be my fault that my boys aren’t passionate about communicating with their Creator…and able to humbly accept His response.

So I did my best to have a deep theological discussion with my 4 year old while his baby brother rode happily in front of him…completely unaware of the fact that he, that chubby-cheeked 12 month old boy, had been my “warmer weather” prayer.

We talked about the fact that we don’t always know what’s best, but God does.  That just because He doesn’t seem to answer right away doesn’t mean that He doesn’t love us or doesn’t care or isn’t good.  That His silence, in fact, may actually be proving just the opposite.

“…gospel stories always have suffering in them.  American Christianity has an allergic reaction to this part of the gospel.  We’d love to hear about God’s love for us, but suffering doesn’t mesh with our right to ‘the pursuit of happiness’.  So we pray to escape a gospel story, when that is the best gift the Father can give us.”

– Paul E. Miller

I tried my best to emphasize that just because God didn’t seem to answer right away, it didn’t mean that He didn’t hear or wasn’t listening.  That it was in that cold weather, perhaps, that God wanted to show us that he wasn’t a “magical prayer machine”, but rather an intimate Father who wants us to get to know Him.

“…when we persist in a spiritual vacuum, when we hang in there during ambiguity, we get to know God.  In fact, that is how intimacy grows in all closer relationships.”

– Paul E. Miller

Just a little over 24 hours after that memorable conversation with Isaiah, Adam and I had a date night.  We had gone out for dinner and then stopped by the mall.  While I was in a J.C. Penney fitting room, I heard my phone ring.  I yelled out to Adam to check and see who it was, thinking maybe it was the baby-sitter.

“It’s Steph, do you want me to answer?”

“No, it’s okay.  I’m sure she’ll leave a message.”

But my cell phone didn’t announce that it had received a voicemail.  Instead, Adam’s phone then began to ring.

“It’s Steph again.”

In the middle of trying on dresses, my heart stopped.  She was obviously a little more urgent than usual in her desire to get a hold of me.  And I knew that meant that either something was wrong…or that it was the phone call that we had been waiting almost 3 years to get.

So he answered…and quickly handed the phone into the fitting room to me.

“Meg, we got a phone call from the adoption agency today.  We got our referral for our little boy!”

Finally.

I wanted to scream right there in the middle of J.C. Penney’s.  In fact, I had to clench my teeth just so that I wouldn’t.

Almost exactly 3 years ago, I had received a different phone call from Steph.  After years of praying and asking for wisdom, they had decided to pursue adoption…and had been approved to adopt a baby boy from Ethiopia.  And we were thrilled.

But then almost 3 years passed.  We prayed.  We prayed hard.  But their journey at times felt like it had come to a screeching halt.

I witnessed their hurt and confusion and impatience.  There were times over those 3 years that the weather certainly felt cold and they were desperate for warmer days.

But I also saw their perseverance.  Their determination.  Their trust.  Their gratitude.

When we don’t receive what we pray for or desire, it doesn’t mean that God isn’t acting on our behalf.  Rather, He’s weaving His story.  Paul tells us to ‘continue steadfastly in prayer, being watchful in it with thanksgiving’ (Colossians 4:2).  Thanksgiving helps us to be grace-centered, seeing all of life as a gift.  It looks at how God’s past blessings impact of lives.  Watchfulness alerts us to the unfolding drama in the present.  It looks for God’s present working as it unfolds into future grace.”

– Paul E. Miller

My eyes are filling with tears as I type.  Remembering our desperate prayers for our dear friends to be allowed the privilege of becoming parents.  That they would soon be able to bring their boy home.  That God would graciously continue to develop their story – His story – in a way that would bring Him honor and praise.

My friend’s life today looks drastically different than she thought it would 3 years ago.  But even looking back over broken-hearts and waiting and failed plans and waiting and major life change and more waiting, I know she would say that it was worth it.

That God never forgot about her.

That He was always listening.

That His story for her life is better than what she ever could have dreamed.

That the winter was hard.  But that spring was coming.

This past weekend I was able to make the 6 hour trip to visit my friends.  I wanted to be able to look at Steph while she talked about God’s faithfulness, her refinement, God’s goodness, her excitement, God’s sovereignty, and her fears.

And I saw the picture of that sweet boy that, Lord willing, they’ll soon welcome home.  He’ll turn 2 next month.  And he’s beautiful.  A striking reminder of the beauty of their story…and of our God.

So, we will continue to pray.  Pray for his health.  For his heart.  For all of the little details that need to fall into place before he can come home and all of the challenges that will come after he does.

My conversation with Isaiah that day on the walk didn’t end with just a thankfulness for the warmer weather.  What did Isaiah decide he was going to be praying for now?

“Mom, I’m going to pray that Jesus gives me a cheetah in Heaven.”

And as I continue to teach Isaiah how to pray, I look forward to the day when Drew and Stephanie can tell their little boy how long they waited for him and how hard they prayed.  And as the story of his life unfolds, they can teach him to do the same.

“Prayer is the mightiest engine God has placed in our hands.  It is the best weapon to use in every difficulty, and the surest remedy in every trouble.  It is the key that unlocks the treasury of promises, and the hand that draws forth grace and help in time of need.  It is the silver trumpet God commands us to sound in all our necessity, and it is the cry He has promised always to attend to, even as a loving mother to the voice of her child

Reader, if you love your children, I charge you, do not let the seed-time of a prayerful habit pass away unimproved.  If you train your children to anything, train them, at last to a habit of prayer.”

– J.C. Ryle

If you would like to hear more of Drew and Stephanie’s story and follow their journey, you can read about it here.  Please join us in praying for them!ImageGratitude (Nichole Nordeman)

Send some rain, would You send some rain?
‘Cause the earth is dry and needs to drink again
And the sun is high and we are sinking in the shade
Would You send a cloud, thunder long and loud?
Let the sky grow black and send some mercy down
Surely You can see that we are thirsty and afraid
But maybe not, not today
Maybe You’ll provide in other ways
And if that’s the case . . .

We’ll give thanks to You
With gratitude
For lessons learned in how to thirst for You
How to bless the very sun that warms our face
If You never send us rain

Daily bread, give us daily bread
Bless our bodies, keep our children fed
Fill our cups, then fill them up again tonight
Wrap us up and warm us through
Tucked away beneath our sturdy roofs
Let us slumber safe from danger’s view this time
Or maybe not, not today
Maybe You’ll provide in other ways
And if that’s the case . . .

We’ll give thanks to You
With gratitude
A lesson learned to hunger after You
That a starry sky offers a better view if no roof is overhead And if we never taste that bread

Oh, the differences that often are between
What we want and what we really need

So grant us peace, Jesus, grant us peace
Move our hearts to hear a single beat
Between alibis and enemies tonight
Or maybe not, not today
Peace might be another world away
And if that’s the case . . .

We’ll give thanks to You

With gratitude
For lessons learned in how to trust in You
That we are blessed beyond what we could ever dream
In abundance or in need
And if You never grant us peace

But Jesus, would You please . . .

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One response

  1. Pingback: God Has Heard | Redefining "Good"

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