Last weekend Nate and I had the privilege of co-leading a discussion on prayer with a good friend of ours. We honestly didn't contribute much, but at one point a middle-aged woman in the audience commented with tears in her eyes that she had never seen young people so wholly devoted to Christ - that it was "kind of crazy, really." The irony of her statement made me want to laugh out loud - I'm in the middle of reading Francis Chan's Crazy Love and I have honestly never felt more deeply, recklessly in love with Jesus! And the fact that it shines through to a perfect stranger makes me deliriously grateful for God's mercy on and presence in me.
Lately I've struggled with discouragement. I ask big things of God, and when an immediate answer isn't apparent I so easily drift into comparison: "Why is this prayer being answered for that person, and these people encountering God in that way, and it isn't happening right here, right now, for me?" And yet God is so, so kind. No matter where I am or what I'm doing, He is so tangibly there. I am constantly encountering, seeing, and experiencing Him anew.
He has called me to minister to the most wonderful teenage girls on this earth. When we sit in a circle and talk about Jesus, heaven, creation and the Holy Spirit; when their eyes light up with the excitement of one day seeing Jesus face to face, my love for and joy in the Savior grows so exponentially that I want to cry.
He has called me to live the rest of my life married to the kindest, most gifted man I know. When Nate putters around the house singing worship songs, stops me in the middle of whatever I'm doing for an impromptu prayer sesh, asks my forgiveness out of the blue for some seemingly insignificant offense, unconditionally forgives my multitude of offenses, leads small group discussions with grace and wisdom, and gives godly counsel to his friends, my heart cannot contain my thanksgiving at God's lavish blessings on me.
God always answers my prayers; even if it isn't in the timing or way that I imagined. He has been teaching me that I can never assume to know His will about anything. Desires that seem good and biblical must often be sacrificed in light of an even bigger thing that God is doing. Romans 8:26-27 never ceases to astound me with the truth that even my most heartfelt prayers are encompassed by the prayers of Someone infinitely greater who, unlike me, knows and prays in perfect accordance with God's will: "The Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words...according to the will of God."
What an overwhelming truth! In the moment of my deepest doubt and confusion, when words won't even formulate, prayers that perfectly coincide with my desires and God's perfect will are constantly being lifted up for me. How can I not walk through life in free and joyful confidence that I am being led down God's intricately designed, flawlessly formed path for me? Like Francis Chan talks about, I want my life to be so filled with God that the world has no choice but to see Him in me. When life is good, may I model the person "who enjoys blessing, but who is still totally obsessed with God." When life is hard, may I magnify the One who brings both joys and sorrows to increase my growth and trust in Him. "The point of my life is to point to Him."