Thursday, May 1, 2008

an inconvenient answer to prayer

I prayed one of those great prayers yesterday. It was completely sincere and now looking back I can just see God up in Heaven grinning as He says, "Sure thing kiddo!" Grinning because He knew that while sincere, I had no idea what I was actually asking.

Closing out our weekly staff meeting I prayed something to the effect of "Lord help us not to be so busy that we miss the open doors that you give us today to minister to others." Great prayer. Very Biblically based especially in light of having just discussed Colossians 4 and "redeeming the time".

Now to preface this let me say, when I'm working I don't necessarily do well with distraction. I don't tend to get a lot accomplished when I keep starting and stopping - I think this is true for most people but some of us it tends to frazzle a little more than others. I was also already a little frazzled since the printer/copier managed to break before I had even been at work for 10 minutes that morning.

So returning to my desk I began working on the normal to do list for the week when in came a lady with her granddaughter needing assistance. We talked and she shared what's going on in her life while our interim youth pastor went to retrieve a box of food (so my chiropractor won't give me a look like "I told you not to be lifting heavy things for a couple of weeks"). Very sweet lady in need. We helped her and I returned to my work.

At this point it was about lunch time and everyone left but me, as I was trying to actually accomplish something and was waiting on a friend to meet me, when two more ladies showed up needing assistance with food. It was a couple I knew that had been here before, but with no one to divert the situation to as to just how many times can we help someone, we talked and then ventured over to the food pantry. Well we didn't really talk. It was one of those "Just give us the food and let us go" type deals that always makes for a bit of awkwardness for me. All said though they left with the assistance they needed, food wise anyway.

To say that I was frazzled at this point might just be an understatement. I had left that point about an hour earlier actually and was now almost frustrated to the point of tears at my inability to accomplish my job. What is the deal? Why can't I get anything done?

My friend showed up for lunch to my exclamation of "Thank you Lord, get me out of here!!!"

I went to my computer to write a note for the door in case the copier guy came while I was at lunch and ....

Yes, you guessed it. Someone else arrived in need of help. She was really looking for one of the pastors but to her dismay (and mine), I was the only person herel. She had several questions, most of which I was about as helpful as a wet noodle but I tried.

My internal dialogue was more like this though: "Ok really Lord. I'm hungry. I'm getting nothing done. I'm frustrated. Can't you give me a break here???"

That was the moment. A very bright, high powered light bulb flashed to life in my mind - my prayer. The seemingly eloquent, beautiful prayer I had prayed hours earlier - God was just giving me what I had asked for.

Reflecting on it yesterday evening I realized that one reason I don't minister to as many people as I should, the reason I don't follow the promptings of that still small voice, the reason my Christian life is so dull and boring . . .

Ministry is inconvenient.
Ministry is uncomfortable - there are no formulaic answers to solve everyone's problems.
Ministry requires relying on the Holy Spirit instead of my own strength.

Oh but it's such a beautiful thing. I joked when the pastor's returned that I was never praying again because God was just too happy to answer my prayer. The truth is maybe I should pray that way more often. I might get less done that's on my neat, alphabetically ordered "to do" list but a few more people might have a life changing encounter with the truth - I think that sounds better.


Esther Joy said...

I love this story A.J. I think we should have your own sitcom TV show. Love you and can't wait to see you.