Tuesday, May 5, 2009

"Would you like fries with that?" - God

Imagine for a moment, that you pull into your favorite fast food restaurant and order your favorite fast food meal. Your stomach growls with anticipation and hunger as you decide that you might just have to pull into a parking spot and have dinner in the car. Strangely, the cashier asks you to pull forward and tells you that she will bring your meal out to you in about 10 minutes. “Ten minutes!?”, you think to yourself with irritation. Isn't this supposed to be “fast” food? Reluctantly, you pull over, turn the car off and wait. Exactly 10 minutes later, you’re still waiting and hungrier than ever. Finally, 15 minutes later, your food arrives. Famished, you rip open the bag only to discover not the Quarter Pounder with cheese and large fries that you ordered, but a large chicken Caesar salad! The thought of storming into the restaurant and demanding satisfaction crosses your mind, but considering you are close to starvation at this point, you decide to accept what you have and dine. You take a deep breath, eat your "healthy" salad, and dream about how good that Quarter Pounder would have tasted! You finish eating, sit back, start the car and head for home for a bowl of Cap’n Crunch.

After the drive home, you realize something. You feel surprisingly good. In fact, you have more energy than you have had in days! The anger from your 15-minute wait seems to be gone and you realize that if you had been served that double cheeseburger in five minutes, and eaten it in two, at this moment you would be eating Rolaids like candy.

We live in a “fast food” culture. Everything that we want, we want NOW. We microwave our meals as well as our relationships. The faster the better and anything that we have to wait for, is just not worth it. In fact, we have grown to believe that good things DON’T come to those who wait, but to those who can intimidate others to get what they want immediately. Is it any wonder that our relationship with God reflects how we view our life in America?

Our prayer life is much like the above scenario, despite how ridiculous it may sound. Answers to prayer typically do not come quickly and they are usually not what we expect. How many times have you prayed about something and expected to hear an answer right at that very moment? We tend to look at God as the cashier behind the counter. “OK, God. I’ll have THIS, THAT, but not too much of THAT, and while your at it, through in some of THIS.” We wait. We listen. And usually, we hear nothing. Automatically we assume that God isn't listening, or we question if He is really there at all. Waiting on God is not something that comes easy for us as Westerners. We become discouraged and our faith becomes weak. But as the profit Isaiah said, “Blessed are all who wait for him!”. Even in dark times, He hears our cries. Jonah knew this well as he cried out, “In my distress I called to the Lord, and he answered me. From the depths of the grave I called for help and you listened to my cry.”

There are two things that you can be assured of: God always hears ALL of our prayers and He always answers our prayers according to His will. In 1 John 5:14, it says, “This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. And if we know that he hears us, whatever we ask, we know that we have what we asked of him.” Notice that this is not an unconditional guarantee because our prayers must be within the will of God.

We see examples of this throughout the Psalms. David prays, waits and seeks God’s will. He goes into great detail to describe his pain and anguish while approaching God. I believe that this shows that David spent a significant amount of time waiting for God. Not only did he wait, but because of his suffering, more than likely, David’s prayers were not answered the way in which he would have liked. Above all, we are assured that David knew that his prayers were being heard: “I waited patiently for the Lord; he turned to me and heard my cry.” David asked, he waited, he heard from God and He accepted God’s will as the best thing for him. He may have wanted the double cheeseburger, but God gave him the salad instead. And David not only “ate the salad”, but rejoiced and praised his Lord for hearing and answering his prayer.

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