What endeared me most to my grandfather growing up was the way he always saw a little humour and a ray of sunshine in every situation. When my grandparents’ dream of buying a new home with the income from their taxi stand and diner was dashed by medical expenses and trips south to Toronto for Mama’s endless eye operations–leaving them to share the little one bedroom apartment with my mom while she grew up–he patiently endured it, spending the rest of his life caring for her in her blindness.
When I came along he was well seasoned by life’s hardships. “Hurry up and wait!” he’d tell me with a grin, instead of bemoaning something taking too long. I often think about my grandfather’s words when it seems like God is taking a long time to answer my prayers.
Like the time I needed to approach someone meekly about a situation. I’d prayed it through and gone with the best of intentions. As I turned off my ignition and stepped out onto the asphalt the lyrics for ‘The Best is Yet to Come’ flooded my soul, and I went in expectantly. I thought the ‘best’ would be waiting for me in the parking lot on my way out.
But my efforts were not well received and because of that, my life took a course I’d never planned on. Nearly a decade later–my prayers seemingly vanished into the unpredictability of it all–I’m still waiting.
I thought about them when a divorce I never wanted left me unable to keep my house and I was offered a chance to slip in somewhere on the sly—getting graciously bumped ahead of other equally needy families by well-meaning friends. As I prayed, God told me to wait. I still remember the time of release in worship I had when He gave me the assurance it was all taken care of–accommodations were coming right around the corner.
What followed were two gruelling years and a Red Sea experience. Illness made it impossible to keep working, and soaring housing prices made it impossible to find anything cheaper. I’d been on a waiting list for a local co-op, but they’d informed me there wouldn’t be an opening for months at the earliest. God told me to wait.
Within days the tables turned. People moved out of the co-op, others switched units, and those ahead of me declined their spots—we were in. My house sold at the peak of the market, giving me extra to sustain me through the worst. The best had, indeed, come—in God’s timing.
Like Joseph and Abraham, sometimes we feel like we’re hurrying up to follow God and He puts us on His celestial waiting list—our prayers seemingly slipping through His snoozing radar. Not so.
And another angel came and took his place at the altar, having a gold vessel for burning perfume; and there was given to him much perfume, so that he might put it with the prayers of all the saints on the gold altar which was before the high seat. Rev. 8:3.
Did you know that one of the most important steps in making perfume is letting it sit? The longer a scent base sits with the pure grain base, the stronger the perfume will be. God has not forgotten our prayers. Not one vapour of our hearts’ anguish soaking the altar of His affection has escaped His concern. Every petition is being painstakingly preserved and perfected for that precise moment when it will spill over our circumstances in a glorious and fragrant outpouring of answers we never imagined possible.
Hurry up and pray. The best is yet to come.
This morning, as I was hanging my laundry on the line in descending order of weight and size, I took my time to drape the last few articles—with stains—facing the sun. Nothing can disintegrate mustard spots and fade the vilest blotches of blood like a June morning’s piercing rays. Last week I hung a white tunic up with a mango mark that hadn’t come out in the wash, and hours later I reeled it back in without spot or wrinkle. Okay, it still had a few wrinkles—we’re at the mercy of the wind for that—but the yellow fleck had forever fled from the sun’s penetrating gaze.
That wasn’t the first time this morning I’d aired my dirty laundry, though.
I hauled my basket full of soiled cares and sullied concerns to my prayer place and washed them in the water of His Word. I let His mercy pour healing agents into the rinse as I scrubbed every anxiety over the washboard of His wisdom and commands. Ours is no quick-cycle chemical cleansing—prayer is a ‘roll up your sleeves’ kind of rewarding work.
Sometimes I get up from on my face before God fully cleansed and refreshed. Other times, like this morning, I find there are things that just don’t come out in the wash.
So I hung them up on my faith-line. I tethered them to mercy, and secured them with trust—carefully positioning each one before the Son’s face. He sees them, I know. They don’t stand a chance against His penetrating gaze.
Clouds might get in the way, this is true. But out there they will stay until He comes through.
I like to think that prayer is a little like doing my laundry. I have to keep up with it or I don’t have anything to wear. Sometimes a gentle rinse cycle is all I need. Some requests get put through the wringer. And some things just have to hang and dry.
… purify yourselves and change your clothes. Genesis 35:2
While everyone may have been thrilled about Goliath going down, not everyone was thrilled about who God chose to accomplish it, and his unyielding faith. David’s brothers despised him, and later Saul’s envy was so out of control David spent years in hiding and constant flight.
Are we willing for God’s deliverance to come through the faithful hand of someone else? Someone whose life might cast a shadow over our own–and might that shadow look a little like envy or contempt?
Then he took his staff in his hand, chose five smooth stones from the stream, put them in the pouch of his shepherd’s bag…
I go down to the valley
where Goliath begs to be felled;
from where he is a mite
scaling the footprint of God.
But he has become a giant,
and I find solace in the crowd;
comfort in the collective
cowardice. All of us
tethered to the same insecurities;
fastened by familiar fright.
United we stand
against our own success.
Pity the poor lad who dares
divide us asunder
with just a fist full of faith
and a pocket full of rocks.