The other day I was in my car praying as I drove. I wasn’t praying about driving, road conditions, or the truck in front of me. I was praying about a place to live and letting God know how frustrated I was. The house I’ve rented since August 2004 was now sold and had to be vacated in seven weeks. I didn’t see any reasonable options. I was at mile marker 89 on I-35 in Missouri when the Holy Spirit reminded me of an old story. You might remember this one:
There was once a man whose home was about to be flooded by a rising river. His neighbors urged him to pack up and get out. He said, “I am trusting God to rescue me” and refused to leave. A few hours later the Sheriff came by in a four-wheel drive and the water was up to the wheel hubs and he attempted to get the man to leave his house. But the man refused and reiterated his faith in God to save him from the flood.
Six hours later the man was now on the second floor of his house hanging out a window when the State Patrol came by in a motorboat. They pleaded with the homeowner to leave his house. The man definitely answered, “My God will rescue me” and rejected the offer of a boat ride.
The sun had set and darkness was just minutes away. The man was now sitting on the roof of his house surrounded by water when the National Guard helicopter hovered over him. The soldier’s voice shouted through the noise instructing the man to grab the rope ladder and climb to safety. But the homeowner rejected the offer and yelled back, “This is a test of my faith. Surely God will rescue me.”
The man drowned when his house was swept away in the flood.
Upon arriving in heaven, the man indignantly demanded an explanation from God as to why he wasn’t rescued. God replied, “I answered your prayer! I sent your neighbors, the Sheriff in a truck, the State Patrol in a motorboat, and the National Guard in a helicopter!”
Obviously, the man in the flooded house expected something different.
Ouch. That was exactly the situation I was in.
Here I was praying for God’s provision of a place to live but He had already provided.
I nearly missed the answer to my prayer because it wasn’t what I expected.
A year ago Joy and Tony bought some farm land that included a house. (We are calling it the Herrick house after the former owners who lived there for more than 50 years.) It’s located just six miles north of where my grandkids live and is actually closer to the nursing home where my Mom is a resident then where I now live. But it wasn’t what I expected. I don’t know exactly why, but I didn’t see the Herrick house as a solution. The only thing I could see was its rural location and run-down condition.
My hypocrisy was self-evident. I was praying for a house and telling God I would go anywhere and live anyplace but turning down the generosity of my family. I guess I was expecting God to provide some other way.
The rest of the drive home was a time for me to acknowledge before God that my willingness to be obedient turned out to be conditional. The next day Tony and I met with a contractor and work began immediately. The core of the house dates back to 1887 and its had at least four additions. But the structure is solid and its worth too much to just tear down.
There is a lot of work to be done: new roof, new wiring, new plumbing and new HVAC. There will be a totally new kitchen and bathroom. Pray for Travis Sines and his crew; they are determined to get things done so I can move in when I have to be out of my current house. Some mild weather is especially important so the new roof can be installed.
The scary part? I wonder how many answers to prayer I’ve missed because they didn’t fit into my preconceived idea of what the answer would look like.