Monday, June 20, 2011

"Unanswered" Prayers

Father's Day on Cannery Row.
Yesterday I had the wonderful blessing of being able to head north after church and spend Father's Day with my parents. For weeks I looked forward to a good, long cup of coffee at a special coffee shop on Cannery Row—sitting, catching up, just being together. As we headed up the Salinas Valley the fog bank ahead looked ominous, but when we got to the coffee shop I had requested the weather was beautiful, the ocean glittered in the sun, and someone had even left us two outside tables, pushed together, with an umbrella above them and six chairs arranged around them. Thanks, Lord!

When I went into the coffee shop to order while we waited for my folks to arrive I noticed on the top of the counter facing the door a few books on stands . . . a couple of titles by John Steinbeck, and my dad's pictorial history of the Monterey/Cannery Row waterfront and sardine industry, From Fisherman's Wharf to Steinbeck's Cannery Row. When he got there I had fun telling my dad that he was ranked up there side by side with Steinbeck!

Not bad company to be next to . . .
Later last night, as we sat around visiting at my parent's home, Dad reminded me of a time in the very early 1960s when he had bumped in to Steinbeck on the street up in San Francisco. All of a sudden, as he shared it, I thought of how, often, if we were told our future, we'd never believe it because it would be so out of our current frame of reference that we couldn't receive it. When my dad bumped in to John Steinbeck, at the time Steinbeck was a well known author . . . but my dad was not writing, I wasn't in the picture, and grand kids certainly weren't! It would have been, on that early 1960s day, mind-bending to be told that he would one day be a father of a son, a grandfather of two beautiful girls, an author of a book that would be shelved next to Steinbeck's, and spending a Father's day almost 50 years later with his wife, son, daughter-in-law and two granddaughters at a waterfront coffee shop at an elegant resort hotel in an area that, at that time, was marked old abandoned canneries with little tourist appeal.

As I reflected on that, I found myself thinking of how often we probably ask God for an answer to something and, while He knows it, He either can't give it to us, or we can't recognize it as from Him when He does (thinking, instead, we are just having weird thoughts or daydreams), because the answer is completely out of our frame of current reference because it involves situations and circumstances that we have yet to even know will happen. Sometimes, I believe, we must wait to get an answer from God because a person, or situation, or event involved in the answer is not even in place or in the picture yet, and there is no way for us to comprehend an answer that involves something or someone we are not even aware of yet.

As I look back at seasons of my life I realize how many places there are in it that if you had told me where I'd be five or ten or twenty years later I would have either laughed, called you crazy, or simply not been able to wrap myself around it (i.e. the college freshmen mocking a God he claims he doesn't believe in becoming a pastor, etc.). Certainly, if I had a thought about a future like that I would have dismissed it! And yet, when we pray and ask God a question about the future, how many times is that the same situation? We wouldn't recognize the answer if He gave it to us because it is so out of the current context of our life or situation. And so, in that period of waiting, we move ahead on faith—not believing God hasn't heard or doesn't care, but just trusting the love He showed us on the cross and knowing that, if we aren't seeming to get an answer from Him, we can trust His love and trust His character and goodness, and trust that there is a good reason for it—and that He has not left us, ceased to care for us, or stopped watching over us.

1 comment:

  1. I look forward to looking back and seeing where God lead me in an opposite way from what I prayed for. Thanks for the reminder.

    ~ Kierstyn


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