Sunday, April 1, 2012
on praying for parking space
Yesterday there was a free outdoor pet event at Marina Bay -- people were invited to bring their pets and take part in the event activities, or just picnic and soak in the atmosphere. The Marina Bay promontory is huge and sprawling, with both tiled and grassy areas, so it's perfect for dog-walking, kite-flying, and all that sort of thing.
Well, the kids had already known about the event for at least a week before, and had been hankering to go for it. I was game enough at first, but I gradually grew doubtful, as there were massive thunderstorms in the days leading up to the thing, and it poured non-stop all night long and into the day itself.
But I had to commit one way or the other, because not only were the kids expectant, there were some church friends who were waiting to know our plans as well. I'd already spoken to a couple of them in the morning when it was still raining, and, with the sky looking so dark and sombre, I said I was quite uncertain whether to bother. Marina Bay is pretty far from where we live, the event was hours away in the late afternoon, and what with preparing all the picnic food and bringing along the animals, and packing their things as well as the kids', I said what anyone would -- I'm going to pray for God's guidance.
There's this lovely lady we know at church who prays about everything -- and that includes the so-called little things of our everyday lives, like getting a parking space, or choosing the right present, or where to eat (on why we sometimes don't getting that parking space, you might read some of my thoughts here). My Mom, on the other hand, isn't comfortable with doing that -- she feels she shouldn't bother God with her trivial, petty needs when there are people in the world suffering terribly from wars, natural disasters, and disease.
I understand where my Mom is coming from, but I have to say that since walking more closely with God, I've learnt to approach Him about pretty much every aspect of my life, particularly areas that require guidance, revelation, wisdom and reassurance. "Do not fret or have any anxiety about anything," the Bible says in Philippians 4:6, "but in every circumstance and in everything, by prayer and petition (definite requests), with thanksgiving, continue to make your wants known to God" (italics mine).
When we think that God can only be bothered with some of us, and some of our needs, I think we're somehow undervaluing God's perfect love and goodness. It's also like we're undervaluing His omnipotence, as if we think He's got more than enough on His plate. Yet as Paul writes to the Ephesians, "May Christ through your faith [actually] dwell (settle down, abide, make His permanent home) in your hearts! May you be rooted deep in love and founded securely on love,
"That you may have the power and be strong to apprehend and grasp with all the saints [God's devoted people, the experience of that love] what is the breadth and length and height and depth [of it];
"[That you may really come] to know [practically, through experience for yourselves] the love of Christ, which far surpasses mere knowledge [without experience]...
" [He] is able to [carry out His purpose and] do superabundantly, far over and above all that we [dare] ask or think [infinitely beyond our highest prayers, desires, thoughts, hopes, or dreams]" (Eph 3:17-20).
In Matthew 10, it says, "Are not two little sparrows sold for a penny? And yet not one of them will fall to the ground without your Father's leave (consent) and notice. But even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not, then; you are of more value than many sparrows".
As I repeatedly see God's hand of blessing and protection in every area of my life, I cannot help but know and believe that He is with me, that He will never leave me nor forsake me, and that He loves me with an everlasting love. One of my favourite verses in the Bible is 1 Peter 5:7: "[Cast] the whole of your care [all your anxieties, all your worries, all your concerns, once and for all] on Him, for He cares for you affectionately and cares about you watchfully" (italics mine).
The Bible also tells of the occasion when Jesus' disciples asked Him to teach them to pray. Jesus taught them what we now call the Lord's Prayer, but after teaching them that, He went on to say:
"Which of you who has a friend will go to him at midnight and will say to him, Friend, lend me three loaves [of bread],
"For a friend of mine who is on a journey has just come, and I have nothing to put before him;
"And he from within will answer, Do not disturb me; the door is now closed, and my children are with me in bed; I cannot get up and supply you [with anything]?
"I tell you, although he will not get up and supply him anything because he is his friend, yet because of his shameless persistence and insistence he will get up and give him as much as he needs.
"So I say to you, Ask and keep on asking and it shall be given you; seek and keep on seeking and you shall find; knock and keep on knocking and the door shall be opened to you.
For everyone who asks and keeps on asking receives; and he who seeks and keeps on seeking finds; and to him who knocks and keeps on knocking, the door shall be opened.
"What father among you, if his son asks for a loaf of bread, will give him a stone; or if he asks for a fish, will instead of a fish give him a serpent?
"Or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion?
"If you then, evil as you are, know how to give good gifts [gifts that are to their advantage] to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask and continue to ask Him!" (Luke 11:5:13).
More and more I am learning what it means to call God Abba, my heavenly Father. I know how I love and care for my own children, evil though I am -- I care about every detail of my kids' lives, and I want to help them any time they come to me, even if it's about whether they should wear the blue stripey t-shirt or the pink star one. How much more can we expect from God, who is perfect, who is all that is good, who is Love?
I do my earthly best to meet all my children's needs, but beyond that, I do many extra things too, just to show them I love them, just to make them happy. I believe, by approaching God with all our needs, we show our confidence in His love and His good plans for our lives, and we also show that we do want Him, are entirely dependent on Him, in every area of our lives. "Unto You, o Lord, do I bring my life," the psalmist writes.
And how many times, just because my kids keep pestering me, and wear me down by their sheer persistence, do I relent and say, Alright, alright, here you go, ok, let's do that. I believe I'm reflecting a bit, just a tiny tiny bit, of God's perfect love, and God as the perfect parent.
So, even as the clouds hung heavy and threatening in that dark grey sky, I said my morning prayers, and then mentioned my quandary about the evening's picnic. And up in my spirit came God's answer: "Go for it -- it's a beautiful day and you'll have fun".
Well, I told my friends that we would go, and I started making a whole bunch of sandwiches and hard-boiled eggs, and packing the leashes and stuff, and we all -- including Kip and Ming -- piled into the car and went for it. Halfway there my husband said, "Wow, look at those clouds; what if it rains". And I just said, "Nope, it'll be fine. I prayed about it".
And the sun came out, and we all had a wonderful time.