Tuesday, October 26, 2010

I get the "message"!

I had big plans tonite. In fact, all day long, I've been looking forward to them, kinda like a kid looks forward to Christmas or a Florida Gator looks forward to the end of this football season (Ew. I did NOT mean for that to sound as harsh as it probably did).

In the shower this morning: "Just a few more hours!"
At class this afternoon: "As soon as these speeches end ...!"
In the gym after teaching: "It won't be long now! In fact, do I really NEED to run this next mile?!"

I was going about my day, getting ready for a nite spent ...

... home alone and digging in to Steven Furtick's Sun Stand Still: What Happens When You Dare to Ask God for the Impossible. It's a book about prayer (you might remember from a previous post that God's been teaching me a lot about prayer lately, so when my friend Erin recommended another book on the subject, I just had to pick it up. Plus, it was payday. I always like to buy myself a "payday prize," even though it generally means that I can't buy any other prizes until the NEXT payday, but still ...).

Go ahead. Laugh it up. Poke fun at the fact that I was so excited to stay in and read for the evening, but I tell you this: there are exactly two things I would rather do than stay in and read for the evening, and until I get a full-time teaching job, I can't afford to do either, so this evening in was definitely one that I was looking forward to.

But thennnnn ...

... as I headed - happily, hopefully, merrily - home from my last errand of the day, I listened to this voice mail message:

Let me ask you this: could YOU say no to that voice? Yeah. Neither could I. The precious implore of my seven-year-old niece is kryptonite to whatever plans I may have, however super they may be, and have I mentioned that I was SUPER excited to read this book? Didn't matter. In an instant, I was all "Steven Who?" and calling my sister to tell her I'd be by in 20 minutes to pick up Lizzie Gray. After all, you heard the girl! She said she "would like that" if we could "go on a date today," and isn't her wish my command? That's a trick question. Her wish is ABSOLUTELY my command, even if it involves buying a totally tacky Hello Kitty tracksuit that I would've wanted more than anything in the world when I was her age.

Apparently, I'm not the only one with this "problem." I recently came across the blog of Suzanne Barnette, a sweet girl from Mississippi. She once posted how she'd gone to bed, and after she did, her five-year-old (Mary Peyton) "asked her daddy (as usual) to take her 'ridin'' to get her to sleep." Well, turns out, her wish is his command. He took both her and the dog (Delta) out for a midnite ride. Suzanne later wrote that she asked her husband why he agreed to do this, and his response was "that's my baby and she asked me to..."

This story makes me think two things: 1) the Barnettes are good people (with a child named Mary Peyton and a dog named Delta, how could they be BAD?!), and 2) these little girls are loved. A lot. In fact, I can't think of a thing in the world that Lizzie Gray could do to make me love her any less. Well, she could go to the University of Louisville, but that'll never happen. We're raising her better than that.

Because I love Lizzie Gray so much, I was willing to instantly, without a single second thought, rearrange what I'd planned for the nite - a nite I'd REALLY been looking forward to. I did it, because I love to give her things that she "would like."

I realized something then. Even though I didn't get to do the reading I was so excited about, I'd still learned a lesson about prayer. Follow me here. Why did I give Lizzie Gray what she asked for? Because I love her - I absolutely bubble over with delight in this precious child (my FAVORITE of all the seven year olds in the whole wide world), and it delights me to make her happy.

The Bible says that God feels the same way about me - about you, too, if you're His child. He "delights in those who fear Him, who put their hope in His unfailing love." He, Who IS love, loves us. The book of Romans affirms that nothing we do - no bad behavior, no bad decisions, not even going to the University of Louisville (are you listening, Savannah?!) - can make Him love us any less.

And because of that great love, He wants to give us good things. Matthew 7:9-11 tells us so:

"If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your (or, in my case, 'your sister's') children, how much more will your Father in Heaven give good gifts to those who ask Him?"

So then, why don't we have these "good things"? Well, there's a verse for that, too. Simply put: "you do not have, because you do not ask God." Why did Lizzie Gray pre-empt my plans? She called and asked me out. Why did Mary Peyton get to take her midnite ride? Because, as her daddy said, "that's my baby, and she asked me to."

The older we get, though, the harder it is to ask. I think there are two reasons for that. First, we're supposed to be responsible, mature, to fend for ourselves. "We don't need no help from nobody, no how." A stranger on the street asks, "How are you, Ma'am?" "Fine, thanks." Subtext: step away and let me just get in my car. A guy at the grocery store offers, "May I help you with your bags?" "No need. I got it, but thank you for the offer!" We are shamefully self-reliant.

The second reason adults aren't as bold as children about their asking is because we don't believe. We are cynics, seasoned by prayers that weren't answered in the way we wanted them to be. The Bible says that faith the size of a mustard seed is sufficient. Some of us hear that and think "mustard seed? I don't even have faith the size of a split atom."

As a result, we are robbing ourselves of the "good gifts" that our Father in Heaven wants so desperately to give us. It isn't rocket science, Folks. He makes it pretty clear - "we have not because we ask not." I'm not saying this verse is a blank check - remember, He Who knows the beginning from the end, knows that exactly what I think will be best for me could potentially be the very worst.

Still, though I've not made it all the way through Sun Stand Still, I've gotten its core message. I know that it centers on the premise of asking God for big things. It takes its title from the book of Joshua. Moses's successor was leading the Children of Israel against the Amorites. God had promised him the victory, but daylight was running out, making their time to battle small. Instead of giving up, thinking God had lied when He said the Israelites would win, Joshua asked God for the impossible.

"[He] said to the Lord in the presence of Israel, 'O sun, stand still over Gibeon.' .. The sun stopped in the middle of the sky and delayed going down about a full day. There has never been a day like it before or since."

Did you catch that? The sun stopped.



Because Joshua asked God to do it.

Not even halfway through the book, I've already started asking God to do big sun-stopping, heart-gripping things. I'm asking Him to do things for me. I'm asking Him to do things for my friends, and I'm asking Him to, please, protect my sweet niece from attending the University of Louisville.

(While I'm posting melt-your-heart clips of my niece's sweet voice mail messages, give a listen to this one. Just be sure that you keep the theme song to "Gidget" in mind as you do. In fact, listen to it first, paying careful attention to these lyrics:

"You're gonna say she's all that you adore,
but stay away, Gidget (Lizzie) is spoken for!
You're gonna find that Lizzie is MINE!")


  1. B. O. Y.-- Best One Yet...(It's like a little clue.) Thanks for sharing your heart!

  2. Because I've recently joined the Best Aunt in the World Club I understand your affection for the “four you adore” more now than ever. And I'd like to think my love for Baby E. is comparable to God's love for me. But I know it is only a glimpse into an unending galaxy that cannot be measured. And truly, simply the thought that anyone could love me more than I love that sweet Ethan-boy is leveling.

  3. Best blog ever about the sweetest little 7 year old I know! Great comparison about how even the massive love we feel for our loved ones cannot come close to God's love for His children.

  4. What a sweet blog post. And your niece's voice is the sweetest and most seductive ever!

  5. Kristin, I posted a link to this post on my blog. It is a lovely post.

  6. Anita, thank you so much! I enjoy your blog, as well! It's linked on my "blog-o-Rama." By the way, I completely agree about my niece's voice:) Thanks for reading!

  7. I don't like you posting my pic's