Last week for a couple of days, we talked about prayer. I want to go back to that for a bit. Because I want to talk about how prayer is really not a formal exercise, but simply an ongoing conversation. And I'm going to talk about this by sharing with you a story.
I've had an opportunity lately to consider an opportunity to bring some healing into my life. It was an opportunity that was more expensive than I wanted it to be, sounded incredibly uncomfortable, was difficult to find a professional for (not many, apparently, do it locally), and just all around a hassle. But if I could figure out all of the details, the results could have a dramatic impact on my quality of life.
Now, our natural inclination when faced with such a situation is to start praying to ask God to put all of the pieces together. What we want is for God to make a way for the finances to work out, for the discomfort to be minimal, to lead us to the right professional, to make the whole thing as easy and painless as possible. We want God to orchestrate everything, so we start telling Him what we're thinking and ask Him to open doors while we go around knocking.
There's nothing wrong with this, and it's an approach that I've taken for a number of things in my life. To be honest with you, though, I am usually disappointed in the results I get. I find that while God does provide, it never seems to be as easy as I thought He should have made it and by the time I get to the end of the journey, I realize all the work that I ended up doing that really just stressed me out.
This time, however, without my even really recognizing it, things went differently. And it's forever going to change the way that I pray.
I realized that the biggest question I had about this whole thing was not about the details. It was about the unknowns. I had absolutely no idea what this process was going to look like, no idea how something like this even worked. I tried researching on the internet to get some ideas, but there were so many options, so many different possible paths. It was impossible to figure out what my path would look like. So out of the ache of my own unknowing, I simply started a conversation with God.
I simply asked, "God, show me what this looks like."
And as we continued to talk about it and work through it (and through my anxieties about it) over the past couple of months, God began to paint for me a picture of my journey through this. Of what, ideally, it would look like. Of the best possible approach for me. He showed me with my own being in the images, with me being able to see myself in His vision for it. Once I had a grasp of how things should go, I started making some calls.
For one reason after another, I turned away from prospective professionals. The information I gathered over quick phone calls with them just didn't settle well in my heart, didn't seem to fit into the vision that God had given me of what this looked like. And then, I found a guy. A local guy, someone I knew from a previous experience, someone my heart just settled into. I was a little put off by the high consultation fee, but the vision was a match, so I went. If things didn't work out, all I was out was a consultation fee.
He and I talked through the procedure, through my options. He told me what he preferred to do, what he thought was the best possible outcome in my case. Then, he told me that because of the complexities of my personal case, he could only confidently give me a 50-50 chance at a good healing. That made him nervous, he admitted; he prefers to do things at 95% or higher. He does a lot of procedures that are 100% sure of success. To him, 50-50 were bad odds.
But God and I had been shaping this vision by this point for months, and what this professional said to me lined up exactly with what God had shown me this looked like for me. The professional asked if I wanted to take some time to think about it, especially since it was such a financial investment, but I didn't need any more time to think about it. I had been planning for it for so long already. My heart was completely at peace with his 50-50 because it matched 100% with what God had been showing me. Without hesitation, I said, "Let's do it."
Actually, I said, "How about this? You do a good job, and I'll heal it well." The professional laughed a little and agreed. Within an hour, we were underway and in under two hours, it was done. And the professional was surprised at how well it went (and really proud of the work he'd done.)
I looked at him and asked, "How do you feel about my 50-50 now?" And he chuckled again and said, "A LOT better."
See, the thing is that when you pray for God to get on board with your plans, you never really get the kind of certainty that I had that morning in this guy's office. You can't be sure whether God is really ordaining the moment or if you're ordaining it and hoping He shows up soon. But when you make your plans with God, when you let Him paint a picture for you of what something is supposed to look like, then you can be confident when you recognize it taking shape and you can step into it with trust, with faith, with confident assurance because this is what God's been trying to show you all along.
And there's something else, too. Something else that's really cool that I'll tell you about tomorrow.