It’s been way too long since I’ve written anything on here. It’s not that I haven’t wanted to… Life has been so busy. Today after work, I stopped at Menards to get a snow shovel and some Christmas ornaments, I dropped things off at UPS, I stopped at the post office, and then I mowed and edged the lawn. It seems owning your own house and living on your own keep you very busy! I have a lot of different topics rolling through my head, but today I more wanted to talk about seasons of life, where I’m at, and what I’ve been learning.
What do we do when God answers our prayers in a way we didn’t expect?
I think that is something that actually happens quite a lot. It’s also something that is rarely addressed. So how do we respond? What do we do?
This is something I’ve experienced deeply and really struggled with recently. I’ve talked about this with friends and family over the past few years but never really voiced it here. It seems in the last 4 years, 80% of the things I’ve prayed for and felt the Lord leading/guiding/answering have gone in a way I didn’t expect.
My sophomore year of college is when my prayer life really changed. I began to pray boldly and expect God to work miraculously.. after all, He is the God of miracles. Since that day, it seems that repeatedly things that I really prayed for, things I specifically heard the Lord speak and move in, turned out completely different from how I expected. This seemed to happen time after time. I began to wonder, am I actually hearing from the Lord? That’s a dangerous place to be and a dangerous thought to think. That’s right where the devil wants you. Doubting… confused… unsure… and vulnerable.
After the most recent situation didn’t go in the way I felt the Lord leading I became so confused and hurt and frustrated. There was a guy (typical girl’s start to a story right.. haha). Well let me back up. I’m not sure what inspired this, but back in high school, I began to pray for my future husband (I still do), and I would always pray that God would anoint our first meeting and that I’d just know. So, fast forward to my junior year of college and I was going away for the weekend with some friends. One of their boyfriends was coming and so he brought along a friend. When I first saw him walk out of the dorm, the weirdest thing happened. I just had a sense. I just knew. There was a small whisper.. he’s the one. What the heck?? I brushed that aside and continued on, but I definitely paid closer attention to get a feel for who he was and what he stood for.. (you see in high school, I had learned that while dating could be fun, it really wasn’t worth settling just to be in a relationship. So to anyone reading this who feels like they’ve settled, or they have to settle… DON’T. You are worth so much more than that. You are worth so much more than a guy just trying to conquer his next conquest. You deserve a man. A man who will fight for you and for your relationship. A man who will lead you to Christ every day and place Him first. ok.. I’m off my soapbox). Anyways, I was impressed by this guy. (I couldn’t remember the last time I had been impressed by a guy, a guy that I could actually see myself dating.)
So as the story unfolded, basically, I felt the Lord so clearly saying to me that this was who He had planned for me. It seemed crazy because we weren’t talking, I honestly didn’t know a ton about him, but I knew his heart and that he loved the Lord and loved others well. I knew he was a leader and worked hard, and the Lord just kept drawing me back and saying be patient, wait. He would send me little signs throughout the day and the week, and I was confident in Him and patient in His timing.
After a few years, we finally did end up going out a few times. Conversation was easy and time flew by. I felt like all of my waiting and patience was coming to fruition. That the Lord had prepared someone who fit so easily and who could be a leader. But after a few months, it became clear that although I had heard something so clearly from the Lord, he had not heard that same thing. (And that’s okay… but it’s hard).
More than anything, the situation left me wondering how God could have been orchestrating everything to end in the way that he did? You see I had gotten over this guy once before, but then he randomly came back into my life and started pursuing me only to leave me confused and hurt trying to figure out why God let him come back into my life. I heard so clearly and believed so deeply what the Lord was saying even when I thought it was ludicrous. I followed in faith and acted boldly in the Spirit, yet I was left with an incredibly different outcome. So what does that mean? Did I not hear from the Lord? Did I make it all up?
I share this story, because what I truly believe is that I did hear from the Lord. I believe those words were spoken to me, however I think I placed my own interpretations/expectations on the situation. I also think it’s possible that the guy didn’t hear the same things. That either he chose not to hear the Lord or the Lord didn’t speak to him in that way. Just because we hear a certain thing from the Lord doesn’t mean it’s going to turn out exactly how we dreamed it to be. God could have been leading me through that situation to teach me something completely different while I’m over here thinking this is how I’m meeting my possible future husband.
Because I felt closer to the Lord than ever before throughout this whole process. Because this situation was so tightly coupled with my walk with the Lord, my relationship with the Lord was left in confusion. I struggled to pray. I stopped listening. You see, apart from this situation, I’d prayed boldly for a few other family struggles we’d been going through, and they seemed to turn out the opposite of the way I had felt led to pray. I prayed for people to be healed. I boldly prayed and they died. In my mind, everything that I prayed for turned out the opposite way and I was scared to come boldly before the Lord. Psalm 37:4 says, “Delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart.” Were my desires not aligned with Gods? Was I not delighting myself in the Lord? No, I was, and I believe my desires were God’s desires. We live in a fallen world. We live in a world of free will. We live in a world where things do not always go according to plan…things will happen that are out of our control.
I share all this because I stopped praying for a little while. (I mean I prayed, but I didn’t really seek the Lord. I didn’t come before Him with my whole heart). I haven’t heard the Lord’s voice in awhile, and I’ve dwelled in the pain of loss, and the struggles, and the distress that’s been surrounding me and my family and my friends over the last year. I’ve realized that, but I haven’t realized how to get out of this rut I’ve come to. I stopped seeing the great things He’s done. (He blessed me with an awesome company and a job that’s allowed me to purchase an incredible home, with some great neighbors so I can live with my 2 amazing roommates. He’s given me some great friendships post college as well!) So, how did I stop trusting God. I know He’s good. I know He does good things, but for awhile I’ve struggled to believe He will do them for me/my family. BUT, last night I heard this song: Pray Something, by SEU Worship and this line hit me.
“I’m gonna pray something i’ve never prayed before because I wanna see something I’ve never seen.”
It was a challenge to my heart and I think a call from the Lord to come back, to seek His heart, to pray boldly yet again. Praying boldly can shatter you, but it can also take you place you’ve never been. I want to go to those places with the Lord.
I think we all go through seasons in our lives where we feel the Lord’s presence SO closely and seasons where we struggle to catch a glimpse. No matter how we feel He’s always right beside us. We go through seasons of waiting as well. Those don’t change. Once we receive one thing, we will be waiting for another. I’m currently in a place of waiting, and this song has been such a blessing in my life. The words are incredible. It’s called Seasons and it’s by Hillsong Worship. Go. Check it out. Pull up the words while you listen to it.
If you made it to the end of this, kudos to you. If you’re in a place where you feel that your prayers are falling on deaf ears, I just encourage you to keep praying. He hears. He’s listening. If you are questioning if you’re hearing from the Lord because a prayer wasn’t answered in the way you thought it would be, I challenge you.. rather than shutting off communication with God, pray all the more. Pray that He will open your eyes. Pray that He will reveal His heart and His plan. Rest in knowing the Lord is the King of Kings and yet He desires relationship from us. That’s what I’ll be doing, praying and trusting.