If I knew that God was listening, that He truly hears me, that He is ready to answer, then Lord, do I have a list for You! That's the way most of us think. At least, that's the way most of us think when we're burdened by the brokenness of the world and feeling our own helplessness. It's the way we feel when we're burdened by the brokenness of our own lives, and we have all of these grand ideas about how we would fix them if we had all the power in the world. And, well, our God has all the power in the world, doesn't He?
But then that moment comes when God answers you, when God shows Himself and reveals His love and does something good and wonderful and glorious in response to a prayer that you have prayed - often, a prayer that wasn't even on your prayer list; it was just a crying out from a weary soul - and all that brave talk, all that bravado we have about a list of our wants goes right out the window.
Because when God answers you, it stills you.
It settles something in your soul. It calms the raging seas within you. It satisfies you. And I know that seems strange because even when God answers one prayer, we're all still looking at so many things in our lives and in our world that we want to fix, things that seem like they are more deserving of the fixing than whatever God just gave us, and yet...something in our souls is satisfied. Like we recognize, finally, just how much God really is in control.
It makes us stop and rethink all of those things we want to ask for. It makes us aware of our own limitations, of the ways in which we don't understand even those things that we think we understand. Hey, we realize we don't even understand God or healing, and both are things that we literally just experienced in our last breath. How could we ever understand anything else?
We all have our list of wants, but poised right on the edge of getting them, we start to wonder if that's really what we want at all. Do we even know what we're asking for? We start to think about the goodness of God, and this makes us realize the smallness of our own definition of "good."
All of a sudden, what I want isn't what I thought I wanted. What I want is to have more moments like this one, more moments when God is so near that I can smell Him. When I can hear His voice. When I know without a doubt how much He loves me. What I want is to know that God is listening, that He hears me.
And it's hard, in a moment like that, to ask for anything else. It's hard to start laying out a prayer list. It's hard to pray for the things I thought I wanted five seconds ago because now, now I just want God to be this good. Now, I just want God to do His thing. Now, I just want more of Him.
And that's the trouble. We all think that we know what we want, but the truth is that we know very little about what God wants...or why. We want to say that we want healing for everyone, but what if God's plan isn't to heal everyone? What if God's glory is something else entirely? We say we want peace, but what if God is doing something in the turmoil? We say we want satisfaction, but there's this weird way that our souls can be satisfied while our spirit still hungers. While we can still hear our bellies growling. The only thing we want...is God. And ironically, we realize this most acutely in the very moment when we already have Him. When He is already so near.
It changes the way we pray, for sure. At least, it changes the way that I pray. It changes the way that I live and breathe, if I'm being honest. Because every time I find myself in a situation in which I knew so well my brokenness and now know without a doubt that He has healed me, I can't help but be thankful and to know that God is still near.
Just like He's always been.
And, well, I can't wait to see what He does next.