This One Last Thing
November 19, 2019
“Hear my prayer, O Lord; listen to my cry for mercy” (Psalm 86:6, NIV 1984).
This was a weekend off-duty, so I had time to visit a few patients as a friend, not a professional. I had just prayed with two for healing in very difficult situations and was traveling between hospitals. My thoughts drifted to personal needs. A child of mine desperately needs a work of great power. “Dear Father, everything else is okay in my life. Just give me this one thing, and I can manage the rest.”
It didn’t take me long to realize that “Everything else is okay” only because God has been answering my requests for many different “one things” throughout my life. The only reason I think I am able to “manage the rest” is because God has answered prayer after prayer already, prayers that I cease to remember.
And it also became clear to me, before I reached my next patient visit, that asking for “this one thing” would never be the end of my requests.
Why do we often think that the greatest needs in our life can be met if we just climb over one last hill…as if Pike’s Peak, once conquered, might provide a gentle slope to the ocean, rather than a view of mountain after mountain between us and the sea?
Why does God put up with listening to each last request, only to hear the next and the next and the next? Praise God that He does.
This world is a difficult place. God knows this…He watched us make it happen in the Garden of Eden. Ever since, He has been pulling us out of fire after fire in order to bring us home, even as we continue to expect peace and joy to pave our road this side of heaven. Many of us do have extended periods of joy in this life; but, for most of us, there will be difficulties much greater than we can handle alone somewhere down the road.
In The Problem of Pain, C.S. Lewis put it this way: “The settled happiness and security which we all desire, God withholds from us by the very nature of the world…The security we crave would teach us to rest our hearts in this world and oppose an obstacle to our return to God…a few moments of happy love, a landscape, a symphony, a merry meeting with our friends, a bath or a football match, have no such tendency. Our Father refreshes us on the journey with some pleasant inns but will not encourage us to mistake them for home.”
And so, we do right to beg God for our present great need and to thank Him when His grace provides. And we should enjoy the good times He gives us in this life…and learn to walk with Him through each trial on the road that takes us home.
Thank you that you listen in love, each time.