The Answer is Hidden in the Command

If my people who are called by my name humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land. ~ 2 Chronicles 7:14

This landed heavily on my heart. I had been praying for quite some time for specific relief from God. I am called by His name. I was humble before Him and desperate for his favor. But day after day, and week after week, and month after month, and year after year the situation remained unchanged. I was left with one desperate prayer.

Fix this. Please.

Blind to my disobedience, I struggled to understand why God’s answer was slow to come. Why did it feel like He wasn’t answering at all?

Seeing myself in my child

My child ran to my side. “Mom, can I go outside?” He eagerly shifted his weight from foot to foot.

“Clean your room first.” I smiled to soften the gentle reminder that he had to complete his chores before he could reap the rewards of playing.

“Can I go outside?” he repeated a little louder.

“Clean your room,” I spoke in a firmer tone.

“MOM, I want to go outside!” He accentuated his frustration with flailing appendages.

“And I want you to clean your room.”

We cycled for quite some time. My frustration rose with each repeat. He wanted to know why I refused to answer him, and I wanted to know why he wasn’t listening to the answer I gave.

Bang. Just like that, I saw my sin.

I am just like my child

Clean the rooms in your

All those times I pleaded with the Lord for an answer, He WAS answering. It just wasn’t the answer I wanted.

Please, fix this.

Repent.

Please, God. I need you to fix this.

Turn from your wicked ways.

God, why aren’t you answering me?

Pray and seek my face.

Acknowledging my struggles and frustration while waiting for God’s perfect provision is not the same as repenting of my sin. It is not the same as being broken before the Lord and owning the nails I drove into His palms and owning my part in this present trial.

God does hear my prayers. He has told me what to do. Humble myself and pray. Seek His face. Turn from my wickedness. Then, He hears from heaven, forgives my sin and heals this land. He has told me to clean the rooms of my heart.

Lord, I have sinned greatly. You have called me to more than this. You have called me to be more than I am and promised it can be accompished by the power of your Spirit. I have, in many ways, hindered your work in my family by refusing to seek You in this hardship, by refusing to turn from my wickedness that contributes to this problem. Today that ends. Your loving kindness had led me to repentance.

The greatest obstacle to your working in my family is me. The greatest obstacle to your answering my prayers is my lack of obedience. I repent. By your power, I deliberately turn from this pattern of disobedience and choose to walk in a new direction toward new life in You. You are my God. I am your daughter.

 I understand you might not radically step in and change my circumstances. But as the pain in the moment comes, I will choose to believe that you are supernaturally working out your perfect plan for my family and me. I don’t know how it will come together, I don’t know when it will come together, but You are writing our story and You have already told me it ends in victory.

Mercy in Disguise

A few years back I started praying for my husband in a new way. I still prayed for his health, to feel fulfilled, for time management, and for his spiritual life, but there was also a new focus.

I prayed for God to stretch him. To challenge him. To give him an even greater desire for HIs Word. I prayed that God would shape him into a leader that glorifies God.

I prayed and watched, and watched and prayed. Every time Kevin said something about how God was working in him, a bolt of excitement zipped through me. God heard my prayers.

But then, He answered in a way I never expected.

I am ashamed to admit that I didn’t like where God was leading Kevin, who, in turn, was leading our family to follow. Negativity rushed through me.

I will not uproot our kids and move to another country.

I will not leave our wonderful church family.

I will not spend an entire year in constant transition.

I. Will. Not.

I am so ashamed.

I still remember the day I wrestled with God over submission. He so very clearly revealed His will. I cried. (Actually, I sobbed.) I voiced all my fears. I listed all the thing I loved about our current season of life, then one by one I gave them back to God.

I left that encounter both shattered and encouraged—forever changed.

And here we are, less than six months later, living in another country, having said good-bye to a wonderful church family, and in the midst of a year of transitions. All the fears I felt have dissipated and I see this season of life as a wonderful blessing.

How many people get four months off from the daily grind? Yes, I still have lunches to make, clothing to wash and meals to cook. But I have less house to maintain, none of our personal clutter distracting me, all three kids in school and entire days available to devote to knowing God better.

I left my habits at home and committed this time to learning new ways.

For example:

We are eating cleaner (I am constantly researching new recipes to aid this desire).

We are far more physically active now that the only schedule we need to work around is Kevin’s training schedule (I’m not working and the kids are not in various programs).

And most importantly, we are more focused on praising God and hearing from Him than ever before. I can feel God peeling back layers of restraint and releasing me into sweet times of worship. An increasing desire to be available and used by Him grows.

God made seemingly impossible things possible.

God blessed me through the very things I feared.

God worked in me, in spite of me, and is not only continuing to answer my prayer for Kevin, but is shaping and molding me into the woman He desires.

Thank you God for not giving up on me.

Thank you God for not allowing my stubborn heart to remain hard.

Thank you God.

What I saw as a trial, was Your mercy in disguise.