Tuesday, July 26, 2011

A Vase of Answered Prayers

In December our family started a Prayer Vase. It was simple really; a clear glass vase, cute in shape and modest in design. The looks of the vase: unimportant. The contents of the vase: life changing.
My husband and I sat down with slips of white paper; him with his medium black pen and me with my fine point blue one…each writing our worries, concerns, wishes, and prayers on the slips of paper to return to our clear glass vase. We were to write what we couldn’t handle. Put pen to paper to things that we just had to give to Jesus because it was driving us crazy to worry about it. It didn’t matter how much we wrote…or how little. What mattered was knowing that once we wrote it out and put it into the vase… it was no longer ours to be concerned about. It was our promise to each other and to Him that we were going to trust Him with everything we put into the vase and walk away; literally.
That vase has been in the front foyer of our home since the day the idea was conceived. The reason we wanted it clear was so that each time we walked passed it, we would be reminded of all that Jesus was working on for us…and there was quite a bit. Neither of us knew what the other wrote but we had to step out and have faith in Him no matter what the slips of paper read.
“Faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.” Hebrews 11:1
Easier said than done…. Which is why we needed to “see” the slips of paper to at least remind us of ALL that we had given Him.
As I have mentioned in earlier posts….we are moving to Nineveh (aka Oklahoma). With moving comes the fun task of packing, cleaning, organizing, downsizing, and painting fresh walls or trim for the new tenant. When I got to the foyer this week to remove pictures, hooks, and other décor; I came to the Prayer Vase. It had to be packed in the most ginger of ways but curiosity got the best of me. I felt giddy as I knew all of the things Jesus has done for us the last six months since beginning to fill it up. I have dusted the vase and cleaned it. I have moved it from one side to the other…but I have NOT opened any of the slips of paper to remove any worries that were once so prevalent to us….until YESTERDAY.

I didn’t open the slips without my handwriting, because only Robbe could know for sure if his were no longer necessary. I was shocked to read some of the things I had given to Jesus because EVERY single one has not only been addressed…but answered.
The top of my pile simply said “Robbe Unemployed.” This is where it gets interesting.
It was a prayer I gave to him on Christmas Eve. I remember vividly as I wrote that slip of paper just minutes after Robbe got the phone call from his contract house that his position was no longer needed after the holiday. We prayed for a job…any job to support our family, to pay our bills, to put food on our table. Jesus didn’t just give him a J – O – B. He offered him an opportunity of a lifetime…in aerospace. It was a contract position for the first three months but then went direct; taking away the worry for “what happens when this one ends.”
But just as we ask for Him to answer prayers….we don’t get to tell, ask, or even suggest how they will be answered. He went above and beyond but he had to get us to Nineveh to do it. I was sad about leaving all that I had come to know in Him and where, and with whom I had come to know it….but this is His gift to us. Who in their right mind would turn away a gift in the form of answered prayer from JESUS??
The next slip of paper I unfolded from the vase said: “Alyssa issues: Not speaking and her upcoming wedding.”
At the time, Alyssa and I were going on two years of not speaking. I tried to send emails without response and just hoping she was reading them but was afraid to push too hard. I wanted it to be her decision and it had to be her time as well….or His as the case may be. She found my blog and began reading it. Soon after that, she responded to one of my emails and the rest is history. We talked via email, then texted, then called. We now speak nearly every day and she and her fiancé are coming to visit this weekend before we move.
Which brings me to my second bullet of this slip; her wedding. I prayed for her often when it came to her wedding plans. At first being selfish that I wasn’t going but then realizing it had NOTHING to do with me. I turned my prayers to her worries; people not being excited for them, coming up with the money to have the wedding she dreamed of, trying to get people to help in planning the wedding, and looking forward to being married to her best friend of three years.
In true Jesus…. “It’s no big deal, I’ll take care of this one too” fashion. He did. He was beside her as they made the decision to put it off a year and helped her to be at peace with her decision. I was able to send her wedding planning books and since we have been chatting, the wedding is definitely something we like to share; planning centerpieces, talking about the dress, colors, reception or anything weddings. Even though there are miles between us…there is no longer the chasm there was just six months ago before asking Him to get involved.
The next slips of paper said: “Emotional stress with Baby. Tense relationship.”  And “Baby moving back to California….Jesus be with her.”
You guessed it. Handled. Our tense relationship was even more tense when she decided to move but within a few months she was coming to rely on me and my advice and wanted me there for support in any way I could give it. She moved to California but by April was on a plane home…Jesus with his backpack in the seat beside her. Now we have a great relationship (although having tense moments) but I always know it gets taken care of when I let him do the caring.
Anja was the topic of the next slip: “Roommate trouble. Money drama. Partying too much.”
Not sure how to sum up this one…other than to say it is a work in progress. But having seen the answered prayers on slips of paper before and after this one…I know it is one He is working on and I don’t get to put a time constraint on it. She no longer has the roommate drama; moving to a new place with new people this weekend, but the money issues and the concern I have about her partying too much still weigh heavily on my mind. Not as heavily as they would if He weren’t in the picture but they are still daily prayers I give to him and know that he smiles and says “I got this. Just give me the time and I will give you the results you are looking for.”
When I pulled the last two slips of paper, the hair on my arms tickled and a tear escaped me because He answered them but not in the way I had hoped or even “planned” as I scribbled them. “She Speaks conference” and “Show me the purpose you have for me….where you lead me, I will go.”
I was excited to begin planning for the She Speaks conference with Lynnette in July. We were writing, blogging, sharing, and planning outfits months in advance. Talking about the weekend at length and just how much we were going to get out of it… not to mention all that we could accomplish when we returned. Hence….the second slip of paper. I wanted him to guide me to She Speaks and then show me his purpose with information received there….leading me with tools, resources, and friendships gotten from the conference I just KNEW He wanted me to attend.
He answered this prayer but definitely NOT in the way I had secretly hoped or even alluded to when writing them down. The She Speaks conference happened just this past weekend….with Lynnette going and me at home. She was filled to overflowing and I prayed for her each time she came into my thoughts; which was often. Jesus knew that it was a field trip He wanted to take with just her this time.

(He and I have one planned in the way of a road trip to Nineveh next week but this was hers.)

He will get me to She Speaks next year…I just know it. But He let me have a little taste of it this year in just preparing for the conference by writing and sharing with Lynnette. Jesus is showing the purpose he has for me and, as promised, is leading me somewhere I have to follow. Not to North Carolina as I was hoping and just for a weekend….but to Nineveh….and permanently.
It is amazing to see these prayers answered no matter how He answered them. The worries I gave to him in the last six months have been effortless and just proof that no matter what I give to him….he can handle; doing a much better job of it than I ever could.
I haven’t written a blog in a month. Truthfully…. I haven’t been opening my bible as much as I need to either just because it has been hard to hear what He has to say lately. I am moving away from everything I thought He wanted for me; a great church, a best friend, a cozy cottage. But, just like he did for Jonah… I am moving forward and doing exactly what He wants me to do to the people He wants me to do it for. In my Life Application Study Bible that I had to unpack from a box in the garage to write this blog…  it says:
“Although the prophet Jonah tried to run away from God, God was in control. By controlling the stormy seas and great fish, God displayed his absolute, yet loving guidance.”
See? That is WHY I was “running away” by not reading my bible much. God was in control. God displayed his absolute, yet loving guidance.
But it goes on to say….
“Rather than running from God, trust him with your past, present, and future. Saying no to God quickly leads to disaster. Saying yes brings new understanding of God and his purpose to the world.”
Guess, just like Anja’s slips of paper…my last slip is also a work in progress. I am now saying yes to moving to Nineveh. Not just the “being obedient” yes but the Yes He has been wanting to hear. I trust him with my past, present, and future and know that moving to Nineveh was part of His plan all along and it was never supposed to stop in Plymouth, Michigan where I got so comfortable.
“Then the word of the Lord came to Jonah a second time. “Go to the great city of Nineveh and proclaim to it the message I give to you. Jonah obeyed the word of the Lord and went to Nineveh.” Jonah 3:1-3