Monday, February 2, 2015

Pondering The Mystery

Here's a picture of a beautiful sunset over the Chesapeake Bay this weekend--taken by my OCC regional director Leigh Fisher at our region's area coordinators' retreat.

It's a sight I didn't get to see because I wasn't there.

For weeks I prayed for this retreat, and most of my prayers centered around two requests--that God would have His way with all of us there and that the weather would allow all of us to travel safely there and back.

I was set to leave on Friday morning at 7:00 am for the drive south to pick up another area coordinator two hours away and then drive another hour and a half to meet another couple so we could caravan to the retreat.

I woke up to a world of white on Friday (snow on top of Thursday's ice) with winter weather advisories posted for the entire day.  Often when the weather is bad in our county you can drive just a bit south and ride right out of it.  The phone rang at 6:15 am.  The area coordinator I was driving to pick up was calling to tell me that those southern areas were experiencing icy conditions also.  She and her husband thought it best to cancel the trip.  I hung up the phone and conferred with my husband who also thought I should stay home.

So, I did.

And I've been second guessing that decision for three days now.  The couple we were to meet a few hours south of us were able to make the trip just fine.  And, as far as I know, all the other area coordinators who were scheduled to attend did also.  And they made it home on Sunday before another storm hit our region.

Which leaves me wondering if I displayed a lack of faith by not jumping in the car on Friday morning and pushing through.

And it also has me pondering the mystery of prayer.  James 5:16 says, "The effective prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much." (NASB)  But lately I've been wondering if my prayers are effective.

I believe God hears and answers all my prayers.  Of course He isn't bound to answer them the way I want them answered.  I also believe He is good and will do the most loving thing for the most people in every situation.

So why am I so bothered by the fact that I'm not "getting my way" in prayer lately?  Why am I wondering if my prayers are really effective?

I suppose part of it is that I'm just so short-sighted.  I see only my own perspective while our omniscient God in His sovereignty sees it all.  And I am prone to forget all His benefits as I concentrate on the requests that seem to have been denied.

Take the weekend retreat, for example.  Many reports indicate that God did have His way there and that area coordinators were blessed.  And God did allow them to get there safely and to return home safely.   I didn't get the clear roads I thought I was praying for--or maybe I just didn't have the faith to drive into the snow and let Him clear them for me.   No matter--most of my prayers were still answered in the affirmative.

Still, I tend to perseverate on those that are not.

Ironically, one of the activities at this retreat was to ponder choosing a 'word' for our Operation Christmas Child team to focus on during 2015.

I did a lot of thinking about this for my personal life as we walked into this new year.  I decided my word would be 'positivity' because I wanted to change my longstanding habit of focusing on the negative.  The problem is...ever since I chose that word I feel like I've been more negative than ever.  I'm not even positive that 'positivity' is a word.

Maybe my feelings that my prayers aren't effective aren't such a mystery after all.

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