Monday, June 7, 2010

when the answer is no

how do you pray? i am always fascinated listening to different people pray. i love to hear their hearts put into words as they speak to God. in college, i had a professor named Dr. Hooks. he was my old testament professor, and every morning he would start off with a prayer. honestly, i took his class when i was not the least bit interested in God, but the man could pray. i'm not talking just big words and trying to sound holy. the man had to have a direct line to God, cause he could just speak it. i could imagine God sitting in heaven talking to Jesus and the Holy Spirit, and a red phone next to his throne rings, and he says, "hold on guys, i gotta take this. steve hooks is calling".

when i pray, i know it's not always eloquent and it's not always something that's gonna get rave reviews persay, but i try to speak my heart. over the last few months though, prayer has become something different. i definitely speak my heart, but i've also tried to keep focus on what God's will is. i've always wanted God's will, at least i thought i did, but i really think that i've come to understand what wanting His will is. before, at the end of my prayer, i'd always say "Your will be done". do you say that too? and if you do, do you really mean it? i think that i said it, but i never really meant it. it was like a thing you say at the end of your prayer to make sure all your t's were crossed and your i's were dotted. kind of the prayer equivalent of tossing a penny in the wishing well just in case. "Your will be done Lord", wink wink, nudge nudge.

God's will. it's not always our will. it's really difficult to seperate our wants from His will. i mean, He is our Father, and a father gives his children what they want right? when jenny and i got married, we were supposed to go to Kenya a few months later. after a couple of conversations with some very wise people, we decided it was not a good idea to go at the time. this was the hardest decision of my life. missions was what i went to school for. missions i what i had trained for. i was a missionary. but all of the sudden, missions was not God's will for my life. what!?! what was He thinking? i mean, how could He do this to me? i know we pray for God's will, but He's way off base on this one.....right?

our first year of marriage, jenny and i were unraveling personal issues that put strains on us that would have only been amplified on the mission field. being in a new marriage is stressful, but being in a new culture is even more stressful. that would have been tough. a few months after we were supposed to be in kenya, there were riots over the writing of a new constitution. many people were hurt, and some were even killed. being newly married, and new to kenya, i don't think jenny and i could have made it through that. as if that weren't bad enough, some time later, my grandmother and my brother died within a month and a half of each other. i could never have withstood that on the field, and i am not proud to say it, but it probably would have destroyed my faith. we were supposed to be there five years, which means we would not have caught jenny's cancer as soon as we did here in the states.

i'm writing this because i've been disappointed for the last week because i found out i didn't make it into nursing school. i studied and worked so hard. i've felt disappointed, and somewhat like a failure. but i started thinking about kenya. what is God's will for me? i definitely still feel called to go into nursing, so i'm going to continue that. but what is His will, His timing? is He saving us from something else? is He preparing us for something bigger and better? i just don't know. but i can tell you one thing, this time, i'm not trying to figure it all out.

i have wants, needs, desires and passions. who else knows all of these better than God? i have plans for jenny and i, to graduate, get a different job, and start a family. but is my plan better than God's plan? it's taken a long time for me to get it, but no, my plan is never better than His plan. sometimes it might coincide with His plan, but it will never be better. so, i sit, i wait, and i pray......Your will be done.


  1. John, you ought to be a writer... I check your blog often because I always enjoy reading what you write, it is always thoughtful, insightful and helpful in my own life. God bless you and Jenny, I am praying for you both.

  2. Amen, John. I love how well you write about real life, the ups and downs and where faith intersects it all. It's beautiful, honest and true. Love you both so much...

  3. Hey John,
    I am sorry to hear that news. I feel for your confusion and sense of loss, I know this was an answer you were waiting on. But like you said: God's plan is best. A better "yes" is on its way to combat or replace this "no." You and Jenny have taught me so much through your enormous faith. I know you have, to borrow a phrase, "absolute trust." -Sam

  4. hmmm, I often resent the verse people quote in these types of moments... Jeremiah 29:11. I don't mean at all to say I don't believe it. I absolutely do. But, it just seems like such a soft pat answer to the unknowns we wrestle with. Incredible insight on the timeline of your dreams. All the why's you used to wonder about have turned into thankful what if's?

    PS... Dr. Hooks Rocks.

  5. Praying all is going well with you two, missing the updates on how God is working in your life... Praising God and giving Him glory in all things.

  6. John, Wow! I echo Anonymous--you should be a writer. This is such a difficult thing to wrestle with, and it's so cool to look back and see how God's timing, wisdom, and perfefct will for you and Jenny was working all along.