Saturday, June 25, 2011

God's doors

Was rudely awakened before 8 AM this morning to the sounds of Beve and one of his buddies ripping out our back deck.  I'm sure the neighbors loved it as well.  But the die is cast now,  there's no turning back.  We have to put a new deck on the house or spend the next X number of years climbing down from our back door from a step-stool.  Us meaning the dogs, of course, who use the back door, and yard on a rather regular basis, if you know what I mean.  They were very interested in the proceedings this morning, and by interested I mean that Jackson sat out in the sun grooming himself and Jamaica chewed on a ball spastically, something she does when a) she gets tired of fetching; of b) no one is willing or able to throw for her.  Nursing a headache, I buried my head beneath a pillow and tried not to listen to every pound of the hammer removing nails, and the dribble of conversation I found neither interesting nor necessary at that moment.  Silence was what I craved.  Deeply.

So do you think I woke up on the wrong side of the bed? Nope, I checked and I was exactly where I always am.  Smile.  But yes, I did, obviously.  Finally got up, took some medication, went to my sewing machine. As I sat there, sewing a quilt top that looked simple before I started it but has been giving me fits, I listened to these two men talking.  Perhaps it was the distraction of their conversation, but when I finished the top, feeling smug and certain I'd conquered all my problems with it, I laid it out, and realized I'd sewed an entire row and ALL the large setting pieces in backwards.  And, at that moment, I simply threw up my hands and walked away.

The conversation out the back-door, and my issues with this quilt-top dovetail perfectly however.  Though I won't divulge the conversation (since it's not mine to share), while I listened, the question came to mind, "What does a person do when a door continues to remain resolutely shut, no matter how hard we knock on it?"  And what does a person do when, through mistakes and sin (I don't know that I could call what I did with the quilt a sin exactly, though perhaps it can stand for that), such a mess is made of one's life that the tapestry is altered?  These look to be two significantly different questions, so I'll take them separately, but see if, perhaps, they blend as well as they began to in my small brain.

Though I realize that some of you are instantly thinking of the parable of the persistent widow who knocked so relentlessly on the door of the judge that he finally got up and answered her.   Many people use this parable as foundational in their every prayer--that is, for their every desire.  When a loved one is sick, they look at Jesus' healing of the sick, Peter's call to pray for the sick and this parable as evidence that God will certainly heal--every time--their loved one (or themselves). If this is so, why is life only 70 or 80 years long?  Why does any one who follows Christ ever die?  Of course these bodies die.  It's part of the rhythm, part of the plan so that we can be with Him forever.  Sometimes, therefore, healing is NOT His will for someone.  Sometimes His will is to go home to Him.  And that's my point, that we must pray in His will.  That's what He says.  He's very clear about this.  "Whatever you pray--in my Name, if it's in My will--I will do for you."  These words imply that sometimes we pray things that are NOT His will.   I know I do.  I know I have asked and He said NO.  Once was for a marriage that resulted in a broken engagement and another was for my father's life.  That time, He told me in a clear, audible voice that He, too, knew what it was like to lose someone He loved.  This was a full week before my father died.  Do you think I wasn't persistent enough?  Even after He spoke so clearly?  You're absolutely wrong.  I prayed until those prayer muscles were bleeding, more than about anything else in my life.  But...it wasn't His will.  That door was closed.

There have been other times--and perhaps my relationship in college was one of these--when my sin created a situation in which it became impossible for God to answer my prayer.  Though He loves, forgives and restores me, there are consequences to sin and those consequences are something like that quilt top.  No matter how much I might pray for it to be back to where it used to be, it cannot.  God and
 I can go from here, good and lovely, but different than I thought--like my quilt top.  God only has us to work with--human beings so messed up that He had to come to earth to save!--so it actually amazes me that we get it right as often as we do, that we understand His will and listen to Him, and pray without ceasing to Him and that He opens the doors He does.  Actually, sometimes He even opens door He knows will hurt us.   You know?

I'm grateful for closed doors.  And grateful for the open doors that are the good ones, the God's-will and God-blessed ones.  And I'll keep praying for those.  See, that's what I want to learn--to pray that God will show me where HIS doors are, so that He will open them and I can walk through them.

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