This week, the husband and I are at the beach…kidless. Yes, you heard right…sans children. It’s been a great time to reflect and think in quiet, without interruption, without demands, without noise. (And it’s been a fabulous time to sleep. I have to mention sleep because I think I’ve done more sleeping in the past three days than in the past month. I am a new woman.)
Over the past month, I’ve been boldly praying. (See I Hate this Kind of Post for what spurred this season of prayer). And honestly, I’ve been asking God for things and explaining to Him the good reasoning behind my requests. It’s been a lame attempt to convince God of how good my desires really were…perhaps convincing myself more than Him. Only today, as I sat in the morning hours on the balcony of our little one-room efficiency condo did I start to listen. Sipping my coffee, I looked at the coastline of pop-up tents and umbrellas in the sand and began again with my “bold” prayers:
“Dear Jesus, I’ve been advised by godly counsel to ask boldly for the desires of my heart. (See what I did there, I put the responsibility of my requests on others, just in case they are things I shouldn’t ask for…) And I’ve been talking to you a lot about those plans and dreams I’d like to see come to fruition. (See God, look how faithful I am, how persistent, and deserving of your blessing…) Again, I’m going to ask for…”
And on went my list…
When I was being advised to pray boldly at the feet of the Father, no one prepared me to receive an equally bold answer.
“You’re not ready.”
It echoed in the newly emptied catacombs of my kidless, interruption-less, quiet and still cavernous mind.
I’m not ready…I’m not READY??…I’m NOT ready…Oh, dang…
In Psalm 46:10, God makes a daring promise that in our stillness He is made known. (“Be still and know that I am God”). In our quiet, He will show up. In our listening, He will speak a bold word.
I just wasn’t ready for, “You’re not ready.”
Later in the morning, as I was lounging on my sticky purple plastic beach chair, sipping my sparkling water and eating a banana, I watched a nearby family. Dad was lanky and covered in tattoos and mom donned bleach blonde dreadlocks. Bold. They were accompanied by a daughter, about age 7, and a son who looked to be about 3. The father carried a long surfboard. This, too, seemed bold. We are at a Texas beach and as long as I’ve been a Texan (my whole life), I’ve only witnessed boogie boards in the Lone Star surf. You’re not really going to catch a gnarly wave in the Gulf of Mexico. If you have a legit surfboard at a Texas beach, you probably have surfed somewhere else and know what you are doing. It didn’t take long to ascertain this dad was not a novice surfer.
First, he took his daughter out to catch some waves. She did an amazing job, first balancing using her dad’s shoulders then letting go to ride the foaming white all the way to the shore’s edge. Her knees were bent, one foot in front of the other, her middle countering every tilt in the board’s rise and fall, and her arms stretched out to the sides.
The little three-year-old watched from the shore, eagerly awaiting his turn. He was fearless, running into chest-deep water, nearly toppling over as the waves crashed against his miniature body. No fear. Tough. Bold. Eager.
Soon it was his turn for a surf lesson with daddy. He climbed atop the board as if on horseback, his leg-span barely reaching from one side to the other. He clung for life, chest pressed against the floating deck, fingers curled around its edges. As a wave approached, his father quickly lifted him up to standing on the board, holding one hand and running in the water beside him. His legs were stiff, his body straight as a tree hewn in a mountain forest. His other arm lay flat at his side. No buckling. No give. No bend.
Into the water he went, tree crashing. He was bold. He was tough. He was fearless. But he wasn’t ready.
I get it now. In this quiet place of reflecting, void of chocolate milk and goldfish crackers, diapers and muddy floors, phone calls and FaceBook notifications, my bold prayer has been answered…with a bold word. I am not ready.
I am not ready to receive the things of which I’ve been asking. I’m not ready. Though I didn’t realize my actions at first, I clearly see them now. I have been bold. I have been fearless. I have been eager. I’ve even been trusting of my Father. But I have also been locked knee and rigid in my approach. I’ve been resistant to any swaying of the current beneath me. I haven’t had any give…any slack to the Spirit, any flex to my daily relationship with Jesus.
I’ve been trusting Him with the big picture end goal of surfing…but not with the daily practice of salt in my eyes and sand in my pants.
I haven’t been watching Him and His example, studying His every move and posture of balance. I haven’t been trying his methods at home, when I rise or when I fall. My hands have been palm-down at my side, unreceptive, unfeeling. I’ve only been the eager one, wanting so much more than I am ready for.
My bold prayer now shifts. Now, my request is not for the things, but to be made ready for them.
Father, you have marked my ways before I was even born. I trust you with YOUR plans. Please prepare me for them. Help me to be open to your Word and your touch as you run beside me, discipling me and coaching me. Make me pliable to your instruction and in sync with the movement of your Spirit as it guides the path marked out for me. Make me your disciple and a good student of Your Word. Bold. Eager. Ready.
“Behold, you delight in truth in the inward being, and you teach me wisdom in the secret heart” (Psalm 51:6).