I recently saw The Shack. It is a wonderful, beautiful movie with so many pearls of wisdom, so many moments that make things seem so clear. I am sure that there are different parts of that movie that speak to people in different ways, depending on their circumstances and their life experiences. For me, the part of the movie that pierced my heart was so hidden, but so powerful.
The Father, Son and Holy Spirit are taking Mac to a beautiful destination. As they are walking, Mac asks, “So where are we going?” Papa immediately says, “Take a look around and enjoy the journey.” That line took my breath away because it hit so close to home. This is a lesson that has taken me seven years to learn…and I am still struggling with. It was a lesson that began with having to leave everything I had planned and many people I love. To leave a place I thought I would be at forever and to take a job I knew nothing about. I look back on that, on before the move when I kept asking God to help me in this new journey…always using the word journey. And then coming here and my first retreat was focused on our journey. And then I became involved in running and through running I kept learning to enjoy the journey of running and not to get so caught up in the race. And yet still, still I struggle constantly with wanting to know my destination. Constantly I ask God to show me what it is I’m supposed to be doing, where I’m supposed to be going. I want to plan my future. I am always looking ahead.
But God is not ahead. And God is not behind. God is now. God is here. How many times must God be whispering to us that we are precisely where we are meant to be? How many times must He be trying to tell us to stop focusing on where we are going and instead to live, to love, to trust right where we are? Who is in control? Is it you…or is it Him?
That line in that movie, “Take a look around and enjoy the journey”, was a beautiful reminder of what my Father is probably whispering to me every day. He is right where we are–we only need to let go of constantly looking for the destination and instead look to Him and enjoy the incredible journey He is on with us.
Have you ever had a new thought or an answer to a problem pop up during prayer? This happened to me a few weeks ago. I was at a meeting and the morning was not going well. My coworkers knew this and right before we began our opening prayer, a few of them said they were going to pray for me. Not but a minute into that prayer, the answer to a problem popped into my head. Sure enough, once I tried what I thought of, the problem was solved. It was truly amazing and I know without a doubt that God heard my coworkers prayers and He supplied me with the answer.
On another occasion, a few months ago, I was saying my morning prayers and I suddenly felt a need to pray for one of my coworkers. This was a bit difficult for me because I find it very hard to get along with this individual. There are very, very few people that I don’t get along with, but this was one of them. I listened to that voice in my head however and, while it was a difficult thing to do, I did pray for him. This went on for about a week, each day getting alittle easier. I wasn’t sure really what to pray for, so I just prayed that God would bless him and give him much happiness and good health. It had been about a week of praying for him when he told me that his wife had just had a miscarriage. In that instant, I knew why God had urged me to pray for him and I could honestly tell him that he was in my prayers. That actually led me to not only pray more for him, but also to include his family in my prayers as well. After that happened, I urged friends and family to always listen to that voice in your head. That prompting, I knew, was the Holy Spirit.
I find that those clear cut answers or promptings in prayer are not frequent. It seems to me that God speaks to me in more discreet ways, in more quiet ways that sometimes seem forever to make themselves known. But there are times when God’s voice is very direct, very clear. Through all of the ways God speaks, I have learned that prayer is incredibly powerful. I think sometimes He shows me the direct effect of prayer to strengthen my belief in its power. There are some prayers I have been saying for some people for a very, very long time and yet, nothing changes. I know God hears those prayers, but I wonder why they don’t seem to make a difference for those people I have been praying for. Maybe, when God shows me answers to prayers like the two instances I wrote about, He is also showing me that all of my prayers make a difference, even the ones that seem to go unnoticed. He is showing me that our prayers are always heard, and that when the time is right, and in His perfect way, our prayers are answered.