For When Your Heart Needs Proof

scripture doodleWhat do you do when times are difficult? When you’ve trusted until you’re tired and you’ve endured until you’re empty? What’s your response when well meaning folks toss Romans 8:28 your way like it’s a magic cure all for whatever ails you? Or, better yet, when they send you a pretty picture of a waterfall with some catchy cliche.

Go with what you know.

Fake it til you feel it.

What’s a person to do when you don’t know what to do?

If you’re Zechariah, you say, “Prove it.”

And Zechariah said to the angel, “How shall I know this? For I am an old man, and my wife is advanced in years.” – Luke 1:18

Prove it. Because what you’re saying does not match up with what I’m seeing.

Oh, it’s easy enough to judge him. But who hasn’t, at some point, yearned for just a little tangible reassurance.

When you’re trying to pay your bills from an empty bank account. If you could just prove it, Lord.

When you’re sitting next to someone you love and they’re fading fast. If you could just prove it, Lord.

When you feel completely alone in the midst of a crowd. If you could just prove it, Lord.

Sometimes, God chooses to offer a little proof. He does not have to do that. He does not “owe it to us.” His love for and commitment to us was heart sugar cookiesettled on the cross and, if he never did another thing, we can never question his devotion. God loves us and his son has the scars to prove it.

Yet, sometimes, he takes pity on us doubting Thomases. He hears our cries for proof and he shows up and let’s us touch the scars (John 21:24-27.) A healing takes place. A check shows up in the mail. And we feel better – for the moment.

Then, another trial comes. A period of darkness comes upon us. Suddenly, we need proof again. And the time after that and the time after that. We begin to place our faith in the proof. That isn’t faith at all.

Jesus said to him, “Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.” – John 21:29

As much as our hearts may long for proof, that is not where the blessing is found. The blessing is found when we believe that our God is a promise keeper. The blessing is for those who knew that God would provide even before the check came in the mail. The blessing is for those who believe God is good even as t hey say good-bye to someone they love. The blessing is for those who believe what God says and not the lies of this world.

“Blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfillment of what was spoken to her from The Lord.” – Luke 1:45

I have been Thomas more often than I care to admit. Show me and, then, I’ll believe.

Zechariah and I would have gotten along really well. I hear what you’re saying, but I’m going to need some proof.

Who I long to be, however, is a woman who believed what the Lord has said. I long to be Mary, a young virgin girl told that she would give birth to the savior of the world who then says, “Alrighty then. So be it.” {That might be the Stacy paraphrase.} She didn’t doubt or question or demand proof that God could do what he said he was going to do. Scripture says that she was blessed because she believed the Lord was going to do what he said he would do.

Lord, let that be me. Some days, I’m just not there. But, mercy, how I want to be.

When God Resurrects an Old Dream (Luke 1)

rainy dayI’ve read a story on the internet several times about a group of farmers praying for rain. Drought conditions were killing their crops and the situation was desperate. They decided to all gather one morning for prayer and, so, they all showed up clad in their overalls. One farmer, however, showed up wearing his waders. Why? Because he didn’t want to walk home wet. The point being that, when we pray, our expectation should be that God is going to answer. Why else would we pray?

The gospel of Luke starts off with Zechariah performing his priestly duties in the temple. Zechariah and his wife were upright and blameless. They loved God and did all the right things. There he was in the temple – an opportunity that came along only once or twice in a lifetime. And, so, he prayed.

We are not told what he was praying in that moment. Zechariah and his wife, Elizabeth, did not have any children. She was barren and, now, they were both quite old. Many believe that he may have been praying about his lack of descendants. One commentator believed that, because of their age, Zechariah would not likely be praying for children at this point.

Either way, an angel appears to Zechariah in the temple and informs him that his prayer has been heard.

But the angel said to him, “Do not be afraid, Zechariah, for your prayer has been heard, and your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you shall call his name John.” – Luke 1:13

What must have gone through Zechariah’s mind? I’m tempted to agree with the commentator who doubted that, at that very moment, Zechariah was praying for a child. I think he had probably accepted that a child was not in God’s plan for them and was praying about something else. Most likely, he was praying for the coming of the Messiah which, oddly enough, would be intimately connected to the child he and Elizabeth would have.

What struck me in this passage was that God was resurrecting an old dream. He was breathing life back into a prayer that had, most likely, not been prayed in quite some time. What prayers have you and I given up on a little too soon?

Pray without ceasing. That is what Paul says. Do not give up. Do not grow weary. You may be just a moment away from something miraculous.

Pray without doubting. That is what James says. Pray with faith. Pray with expectation. If you’re praying for rain, for crying rainout loud, show up with your waders on. Like the psalmist, present your requests to God and wait expectantly!

Consistency in prayer has, in the past, been difficult for me. I tend to be consistently inconsistent in many areas of my life. Often, it’s just laziness on my part. In some instances, I just do not know what to pray. Other times, I’m afraid of being hurt or disappointed when a prayer is not answered in the way I had hoped or on my timetable. None of those things, by the way, are good excuses.

Whatever it is that you are currently praying for – don’t be afraid to get your hopes up. Wear your waders proudly or, at the very least, carry an umbrella.

You are loved.