In the cool of the evening a few days ago, I sat on one of our oversized pillows on the steps of our back deck throwing tennis balls for Kincade and Jamaica. The boys (Beve, his brother who is visiting from Finland for the month, and J) sat more comfortably up on our deck furniture watching me. For no particular reason, Kincade has begun circling up the steps and around behind me before dropping the ball in front of me to throw for him. So on a whim, I decided to put my hands behind my back and teach him to drop the ball neatly in my cupped hands. I'm just lazy enough that bending over is ever too much work. He got the hang of this new trick more quickly than any of us could have guessed and now it's the only way he wants to drop the ball--at least when I'm the one playing with him. His responsiveness to me is unbelievable. He's willing to try just about anything I ask him, especially if there's a ball to be caught in the middle and praise at the end.
Such 'tricks' get me to thinking of my own responsiveness to God, my own responsiveness and that short quote from Flannery O-Connor I mentioned in my last post. "My dear God, how stupid we people are until You give us something." I spend SOO much time being stupid with God. My prayers are made of the stuff of beggars, asking and pleading and whining for myself and others. While there is nothing wrong with intercession, it isn't the primary focus of prayer. Or shouldn't be. And Kincade's response to me reminds me of this. His entire body begs to run and catch the ball as soon as he drops it. But I have taught Kincade to wait. To put it into my hands and wait. Sometimes to sit, to even lie down while I walk away (even out of his sight). No matter what I do, he waits.
We don't do that. That tennis ball of Kincade's is like whatever I worry about, whatever I am praying, but I don't trust my Master. I don't learn from our dogs. And I'm not alone. That's the sorry truth of it.
We ask the Father for things and then we whine and complain and worry and fret because He doesn't seem to be doing anything. We don't trust that what we've put into His hands He's capable of actually caring for. We're just plain stupid, as Flannery O'Connor puts it, more stupid than our dogs, perhaps. We must learn from them. We must learn that when we trust Him with our balls (our livelihoods, our personal lives, our families) He won't drop them.
Don't get me wrong, though. I'm NOT saying that struggle and trial and fire won't come. What I know about God is that He cares more about US than He does about our circumstances and that whatever He has in mind is meant to grow us into His likeness. Whatever it takes. In this we differ from our dogs, of course. They can only be dogs. Sometimes they're great ones, like my Kincade, but still just dogs. But our fingerprints are in the image of the ONE who created the universe. What matter most is that we become like Him, more like Him than that we get a particular job or are given a particular thing. If we drop our prayers into His hands--drop our dreams, hopes, deepest desires--and wait with all the strength of obedient, loving Kincade, what comes will definitely come from His hand. And that, I think, makes all the difference.