Prayers are a tricky thing. You have to be careful what you pray for, because you might just get it. Usually, it looks nothing like what you pictured when you were on your knees. I so often pray for grace, for wisdom. I pray for patience and peace, for understanding. For each character trait listed in Proverbs 31, which often seem so far out of my reach. Then slowly – these traits creep up on me. Well they don’t often creep up on me, but the opportunity for each attribute appears.
It blows softly, as a quiet breeze and gently whispers in my ear. My heart, in its refined wisdom feels the gentle tug of this opportunity and I know (sigh) as the sun casts threads of pink over the rolling waves, here is my chance to be patient, or wise, or gracious.
Or you could scratch that, and it could be a touch more realistic. Opportunities barrel at me like a freight train screeching to a halt but without the ability to brake. Chaos ensues and death looms in from of me. I have no choice but to gulp for air and hope I can wrestle my petrified body off the tracks, before the headlight becomes my white light. That’s how opportunities for grace actually come.
It’s in that chaos – if I can quiet my throbbing heart, I hear my Father say, “This is what you asked for. This is how you are changed.” The train stills, the screeches go silent, and the track, once vibrating with the sound of my oncoming slaughter, is now dead beneath my feet. In this moment in time, all freezes, and floats about me. I am able to see, by the power of the Spirit, that this train is exactly what I prayed for.
If I am present in this moment I will grow. If I am aware of my surroundings I will understand. If I see what He sees, if I hears what He hears, with His strength alone, I can put aside my anger, hurt and frustration and be everything that I am not. Patient, wise, understanding, pure of heart, sincere, gracious.
I know I can be present here and now because this train is not out of my Father’s control.
In fact it is exactly what I asked for. It’s certainly not how I pictured it, but let’s face it, who was I kidding? I can only welcome this railroad opportunity to grow merciful, or joyful, or fearful of our God, Or a hundred other pushes and pulls that make me who I want to be.
They are usually never pleasant, often I wish there was a gentler way. But, in the pain I find rest and remembrance. Through the ache I learn. Taking comfort in the fact that my prayers are being heard and answered. That I am loved and I am learning.
Better get going, I hear that train comin’. It’s rolling round the ben