For years I almost missed the faithfulness of God because I expected it to look a certain way. I wanted a swift answer to my every prayer, and always in the affirmative.
Make the baby stop crying, Lord. Pleeeease, I am begging You for sleep. Make my husband understand me.
Make my kids love one another.
Make my life fruitful for Your kingdom. Pretty please.
But there I always was, alone and changing another diaper, wiping up another mess, totally losing it, and sleep deprived at that. Where was the faithfulness of God to me? If He was near, why did He feel so far?
Then, seven years ago, I began to carve out time to meet with God. It hit me like a freight train in late February of 2010, that my life literally depended on it. As I poured out my heart to God and studied His words, the transformation process began to accelerate in my life.
Psalm 139: 23–24 says, “Search me, O, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. Point out anything in me that offends you, and lead me along the path of everlasting life.”
The result of this was not smooth sailing down a lazy river, but a tumultuous ride through rough waters. True to His Word, God began to show me more of the sin in my heart and lead me down the path of everlasting life—a path that begins now, on this side of heaven. He didn’t zap all of my problems and make them disappear. He did something I should have known He would do from the start. He began to change me.
Slowly but surely, day after day, an increasing peace and awareness of God’s intentionality began to emerge through each conflict, trial, and disappointment. I began to internalize a truth that has changed my life. It shattered the paradigm through which I used to view the Bible and my own life. The truth is this:
God is completely other than me.
In other words, God’s ways are not my ways. He knows best, not me. He values what is right and holds unswervingly to what is true because He cannot lie. He is not frazzled or worried and He’s never in a rush. His pace is much slower than mine—He is patience epitomized, His long- suffering unfathomable. He is faithful to His Word for my good and His glory, always. When He seems to ignore, or flat out deny my pleas, I must remember an answer delayed is not necessarily an answer denied.
Let me give you an example.
For the past four years or so, I have prayed for companionship for myself and for my children. My plea sounded something like this:
Please, Lord, send me a friend just like me who can provide friendship for me and also has kids to provide friendship for my kiddos.
I kept looking for a woman “my type” with kids that would match up perfectly with all of mine in both age and gender. Ha! Year after year, the answer to my prayers failed to appear. In my mind, I thought I knew what was best for my family. I didn’t see how it could be loving for God to let me linger in solitude.
But then God began to change my perspective as I asked Him to give me His eyes for my situation. All along, I had been praying that God would increase my faith and make my life and the lives of my children fruitful for His kingdom, but mostly that prayer flew off my radar the second I said, “Amen”. It was the “magic friend” prayer that I was fixated on.
While I waited for my “magic friend” to appear, in true God fashion, He began to lead me down a different path. This detour included many surprising people who I never would have known apart from the Lord. One of the people I met, was a 60-year-old Korean woman, (I’ll call her Kitty), who is the nanny for a boy across the street from us.
She is not “my type” in any way. In fact, we can barely understand each other. One day, the little boy in her care (we’ll call him, Charlie), ran away from her and began to follow my family down the street as we were walking to our church small group.
Charlie raced down the sidewalk with determination—there wasn’t anything that was going to stop him! To make a long story short, Charlie and Kitty ended up joining us at our cookout that night, despite my reservations. I remember being open to what God might be doing, but also completely weirded out by this foreign woman who kept asking to hold my baby so I could eat.
Over time, Kitty’s sacrificial love and generosity have proven genuine and she has become a dear friend in our lives. We even discovered that she is a believer and attends a Korean church in town. She comes over with Charlie several times a week and is eternally grateful to have playmates for the only child. She thanks us incessantly for receiving her and Charlie into our lives, but I wonder if she knows that I am the one who is grateful to have her in ours. Kitty is a rare witness to the monotony of my days. She sees me in the midst of ordinary and reminds me that it is in fact extraordinary—the very place where God does so much of His work.
We have begun to know Charlie’s parents and grandparents, as well, all of them unbelievers. His grandparents are first generation immigrants from Japan and so genuinely intrigued by our family; most notably, the involvement of my husband in our lives and my presence in the home. Their reaction to us reminds me of the value of my calling as a wife and a mother. Living out these basic roles elicits wonder in them.
Recently, I came across an old scripture memory card in my recipe box from when my oldest, (now ten), was three years old. Written in Sharpie, with crayon scribbled about, it reads, “Let your light so shine before men that they may see your good works and glorify your Father which is in heaven.” (Matthew 5:16)
God has been bringing this verse to fruition in our lives over the past decade and I didn’t even realize it. Since moving to the neighborhood, I have prayed for God’s Spirit to hover over our street and stir the hearts of our neighbors to seek Him. But as the years passed, I began to doubt that God would move. My own sin and discouragement tried to crowd out my prayers on behalf of others. But God does not forget, nor does He slumber, as He patiently works in the hearts of men. He continues to teach me that there is rich purpose in every day if I simply attune myself to what He is doing.
The part of the story that leaves me in awe, is that my kids LOVE Charlie and Kitty. From my oldest straight down to the youngest, excitement and a sense of purpose fills their little souls every time they see them bounding across the street. I have noticed a peace that settles in among my children when Charlie and Kitty are around.
Last week, it was pouring down rain and Kitty and Charlie were sitting under the front porch waiting for the rain to stop. One of my sons, of his own accord, grabbed an umbrella and asked if he could go across the street to escort them to our garage to play. Romans 12:10, another of those verses we had memorized years earlier, flashed through my mind. “Be devoted to one another in brotherly love, honor one another above yourselves.
Yes, God is faithful. I probably still only understand about 50% of what Kitty says, but it does not matter. God has filled a part of my heart with her. I love her.
James 2:1 says, “My dear brothers and sisters, how can you claim to have faith in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ if you favor some people over others?”
Kitty is not who I would have chosen to fill up a bit of the longing in my heart and the hearts of my children. But God’s ways are not my ways. Right before my eyes the faithfulness of God is playing out in my life. I encourage you to erase the picture of what you think God’s faithfulness should look like and dive headlong into the unmatched, unanticipated, true measure of God’s faithfulness to you. He hears you. He is for you. And His Word will not return void in your life. It is an impossibility.
“For as the rain comes down, and the snow from heaven,
And do not return there,
But water the earth,
And make it bring forth and bud…
So shall My word be that goes forth from My mouth;
It shall not return to Me void,
But it shall accomplish what I please,
And it shall prosper in the thing for which I sent it.”