Recently I’ve been praying that God would do something amazing in me, through me or around me each day. This heart prayer has spawned from a desire to live out of anticipation or expectation that God’s wonders probably show up more frequently than I am seeing or taking the opportunity to embrace. I have wanted to change that and live more in the awareness of the amazing.
Now to temper this thought, I’ve also been reading a book by Ravi Zacharias called “Recapture the Wonder” where he states, “But God, in His infinite wisdom, has shown us that life was never meant to be that way [pursuing the thrill of wonder], no more than salt is intended to be eaten by itself…”¹ And later he asks, “How then, does one retain a sense of wonder without being permanently entranced?”
So this is the tension I am trying to live in: praying for the amazing but fully aware that many days may contain merely the mundane. Will I still see the wonder of God on the days where normal is the norm?
Some of my amazing moments have been great conversations that challenged how I looked at life and relationships. Those conversations didn’t leave me feeling particularly hopeful, but they did open my eyes further.
One conversation last week challenged me to take a risk and share from a place of vulnerability with someone who said something that hurt me. All day I wrestled with whether to say something. I finally got up the guts. And the conversation didn’t go as I hoped with further focus on my own shortcomings.
It sent me reeling for a day and a half. Now how can I consider that amazing when I felt down and discouraged, and for the whole day forgot to pray for God to do something significant around me? I felt like it was a mistake to take the risk. I have long wrestled with what the pay-off of relational intimacy is…and this conversation didn’t help see the effort in that direction was worth it.
Two days after the difficult conversation I put a finger on why I was feeling down. I felt like I wasn’t worth much. The risky conversation left me feeling like I wasn’t worth the effort of the part of the other to try and change their phrasing so I could take in the feedback more constructively. I did not feel valuable or worth the fight. And I was intensely sad as a result.
We all know what it is like walking around in a funk for days…overwhelmed and not very happy. I’d been walking around like that for three days since my risk-taking conversation. But I was coming back around to seeing how these self-analyzing thought rabbit trails were points of growth for me…and therefore kind of amazing in their own regard. But I was still feeling pretty worthless.
That is when salad dressing changed the whole story.
I went to a meeting right after work on Monday with no time to grab dinner beforehand. As I was leaving the meeting, I saw someone I work with who asked how I was doing. I said simply, “Wrestling with some stuff but doing ok.”
I jumped into my car and headed to Trader Joe’s to grab a salad for my 8:30 p.m. dinner. When I got back into my car I ripped open the salad discovering there was no dressing in the container. How can I possibly eat salad without dressing? A little perturbed, I headed back in to get a replacement only to find they did not have any more of “that” salad. So I got in line for a refund. I noticed the same gentleman who asked how I was doing at my meeting. Hmmm.
As I sat in my car mixing up my second choice for salad (I had in fact bought two at checkout), this same co-worker came and knocked on my window. Hmmm. He asked me, “How can I be praying for you regarding what you are wrestling with.” I was touched by someone’s care enough to go out of their way and show concern for me. I shared a few things, and then he prayed for me right there.
I was truly appreciative of this initiative. But what said as he prayed floored me. He prayed for me to understand how God loves me way more than I can possibly know.
Why did this floor me? I was wrestling with feeling worthless, and underneath that not feeling very lovable. Not worth the fight. Deeply worthless. Funk-level worthless. And here this guy comes out of the blue to pray for me…and later tell me that it helps him to acknowledge “God loves him way more than he can possibly know.” I sat in stupor.
How could God possibly know that is exactly what I needed? I needed to know how much God loves me. I deeply needed those exact words. “I love you.” “I treasure you.” “You are worth the fight.”
Amazing moment plopped right into my lap.
Think about all the things that needed to line up just so I could hear those words. Running late. Not able to get dinner before. See dude at my meeting. He asks question. I give answer. He knows there is more behind my answer. I go to store, buy “this exact” salad, no dressing, try to get another, no replacement, stand in line for refund, see dude in line, parked two cars away, he comes and initiates more. And says the words I desperately needed to hear.
Sometimes I wonder whether God cares about all the details of my life. Then something like this happens. How can I question now? He orchestrated all that just to speak life-giving words to my funk-filled soul. Unbelievable, yet it just happened. I sat in quiet reflection at how intricate His care is toward me. How absolutely perfect and lavish.
Earlier I heard a song for the first time where the lyrics smacked me around as I sat in my doubt and worthless self-reeling. From Barlow Girl’s song “I Believe in Love” these words stuck in my head:
How long will my prayer seem unanswered?
Is there still faith in me to reach the end?
I’m feeling doubt, I’m losing faith
But giving up would cost me everythingSo I’ll stand in the pain and the silence
And I’ll speak to the dark nightI believe in the sun even when it’s not shining
I believe in love even when I don’t feel it
And I believe in God even when He is silent
And I, I believeThough I can’t see my stories ending
That doesn’t mean the dark night has no end
It’s only here that I find faith
And learn to trust the One who writes my days
“It is only here that I find faith” the song says. I have to trust the Father has everything fully in control when I see how He orchestrates things just so I will know His love. And that is not just for me, but for all you reading. Even in the darkest moments, somehow God is lining things up behind the scenes to say just what you need to know. “You are loved.” “I treasure you.” “You are worth the fight.”
Our hard work is believing it when we can’t see it. But if He can use salad dressing to send the message that I am loved, He certainly can do something amazing and perfectly catered to you to say what you need to hear. Just keep an eye for the amazing every day. You never know how it will happen for you.
¹ Recapture the Wonder, Ravi Zacharias, Introduction, Page xiii