You know the old adage, “Be careful what you ask for, because you just might get it?” Well, as I’ve discovered, the same philosophy can apply to prayer. I often hear Christians joking about never praying for patience again. They know God will answer, just not typically in some fairy tale sort of way,
You need patience, precious one? Well, here you go! You’ll never struggle in this area again and will live happily patient ever after.
Nah…doesn’t typically happen that way. Usually, we’re thrust into an area that allows us to develop patience the hard way…by learning how to be patient…whether we want to or not.
For those of you who have been reading my posts on Out of Deep Waters for awhile know a good bit about my story. For those of you who might have been at a speaking event of mine have probably heard even more. I don’t share it all in this space, as it’s honestly tough to tell in written words. I’d much rather sit down over a cup of tea or coffee and talk face-to-face. However, I also know God gave me this story for the vital purpose of sharing it, as someone else (or several someones) just might need to hear it. It ain’t pretty though. And, I like pretty. I would much rather wrap up my story in some beautiful package and tie a gorgeous bow on top of it before giving it to you. However, in all honesty, it’ll come wrapped in dirty burlap with gaping holes.
My story begins with my earliest childhood memory and will be ongoing until the day the Lord calls me home. It’s a story that’s been exposed to childhood abuse, divorce, addiction, poverty, abandonment, solo parenting, suicide, widowhood (twice!), foster parenting, adoption, tragedy, deceit, physical pain, secondary infertility, and I could go on (yes…really!). One day, I asked the Lord why He couldn’t just “spread the wealth”. I wanted to know why I (as one person) had to be relatable to so many groups of people. Couldn’t I just be “the expert” in one or two of these categories and let others tackle the rest? Yes – I really did pray this (sad, but true). And, He answered me so quickly and so vividly just three months ago when I uttered this prayer out loud…
Oh Leah, my precious daughter, do you remember that prayer you prayed in 2003? The one where you asked Me to ‘enlarge your ministry territory’? I’ve done that for you dear one!
Oh boy. There it was. Yes…I do remember that prayer. But, I honestly had forgotten about it in recent years. Do you remember when the Prayer of Jabez was a big thing back in the early 2000’s (see 1 Chronicles 4:10)? Books were written on it, people talked about it all over the place, and I prayed it! Specifically, just as God reminded me that day I was whining to Him. I honestly did want God to enlarge my territory of ministry, but I never meant this way! And, there it was, “be careful what you pray for…”
I’ve had to come to terms with this realization in the months since God opened my eyes to what He was doing. Much of the junk I’ve experienced in life happened to me. I didn’t cause it. But, there was some other “stuff” that resulted in my own sin. I couldn’t blame that on anyone but me. That’s the harder to swallow stuff. But…I also know this…God isn’t wasting one single bit of it! Not. One. Bit.
He promises in Romans that “all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” I love Him, and I’ve been called according to His purpose, therefore I’m claiming this promise that He will work all these things for good! My story continues, and I can now thank Him for “enlarging my territory”. To Him be all the glory!