Unprayed Answers

Unprayed Answers

Whenever I am seated at the piano on Sunday mornings leading our congregation in song along with our church praise team, I consider it to be one of the sweetest blessings in my life. In addition to me, the team presently includes three vocalists, a bass guitarist, an occasional drummer, and an acoustic guitar player. 

In the early 2000s, as I sat on a padded metal chair in a conference room filled with hundreds of other women at a Christian event, a husband and wife duo performed several moving songs. She sang and he played guitar. Listening to them share their love of Jesus and music in such a special way made an impact on me. For a few months after the conference, my mind revisited how touching it was that they had the opportunity to participate in a music ministry together as husband and wife. However, as time went on, the memory of that duo disappeared from my mind.

A few years later, on a whim, my husband and I both attempted to teach ourselves how to play guitar. He learned much more easily and quickly than I did, and my ego took a hit, so I quit. I never tried learning guitar again, and I might just be a little bitter about my husband having such a seemingly easy time mastering a new instrument, especially since I am the one with a music degree and background. (By the way, if you were expecting a post about perseverance when the going gets tough, this is not it.) 😉

More than a decade later on a Sunday morning in 2017, as I sat in front of the sanctuary leading a worship song with the praise team, the memory of that husband and wife duo unexpectedly reappeared in my mind. I immediately began to tear up. I confess that I frequently tear up during the music portion of our church service because when the song lyrics proclaim the greatness of God’s love and faithfulness, my gratitude causes an emotional response. But this particular time, my tears were due to the fact that I had overlooked for several years. You see, I love Jesus with all my heart and I thoroughly love to sing, so I am definitely thankful that I sing on a church praise team. But on that particular morning, I was struck by the added detail that my husband is part of that praise team with me, playing the aforementioned acoustic guitar. I am sure that a combination of factors was involved in God inspiring Darren to learn how to play guitar and join the praise team. I can’t help but think that I know what one of them was: God wanted to accomplish something in my marriage which I had deemed impossible. 

It is amazing that we serve a God who sometimes honors dreams that are shoved down deep into our hearts or almost entirely dismissed. Dreams we don’t even bother to transform into prayer, because we have already decided they are out of the realm of reality.

The idea of sharing in a music ministry together as a couple never became more than an intriguing thought. Not a wish. Not a prayer. In fact, it had been forgotten. But even so, God orchestrated that forgotten idea in our lives years later, and it is an incredible, straight-from-God gift. Because of His great love, God answers prayers we never even consider praying.

Momentum in the Midst of a Mess

Momentum in the Midst of a Mess

Whether we are referring to the Thanksgiving holiday or the attitude of thanksgiving, selflessness is found right in the name. In this increasingly self-centered world, it is a breath of fresh air to intentionally focus on being grateful and to give thanks to God for His countless blessings.

Thanksgiving is uncomplicated when life is rolling along just how we pictured it. For example, when our Thanksgiving table is set with matching linens, our turkey is roasted to a perfect golden-brown, and our family is seated around a table with smiles on their faces as conversation abounds about faith, family, friends, and food, giving thanks is easily in the forefront of our minds.

But what about when our personal lives are right smack-dab in the midst of a mess? Maybe that is when we make the life-changing (yes, I said life-changing) decision that we are going to make sure that the attitude of thanksgiving will take place right smack-dab in the midst of that mess?

Making a conscious effort to stop in the shambles and halt in the havoc and say, “Thank you,” to our faithful God who refuses to forsake us is sometimes a difficult thing to do. But it is a valuable thing to do. It refocuses our eyes, minds, and hearts on the fact that the size of our mess is minuscule compared to the size of our God. It is often the necessary step to keep us moving in a forward motion into the peace that God offers, instead of backwards into a place of anger or despair.

When we are in the midst of any type of mess; financial emergencies, a cancer diagnosis, family feuds, or broken relationships, if we are consumed by thoughts of, “Why me, why now, why aren’t You there, God?” we will remain at a standstill or even take a step back in our faith life. Thanking God for blessings and the fact that He is going to help us through it, evidenced by the fact that He has been faithful since day one, is a much better mode for our mind to operate in. It strengthens our faith, and it brings honor to God!

Recently, we were heading to an open spot on the arena bleachers to watch our oldest son’s basketball game. Our second son was walking behind me. I was looking up at the action on the floor and unfortunately was not aware of an object on the floor in my path. Boom. Suddenly, I was on the floor and many thoughts rushed through my mind, including “How embarrassing, how embarrassing, and yes, how embarrassing.” My middle name is not Grace, and I have had some missteps in my life; more than I would like to admit. But somehow, this one made me want to find a magic door that would lead me back in time to a few seconds before when I would have plainly seen any objects in my path and avoided an embarrassing situation.

When I fell, there was an immediate helping hand, and it was pretty neat that it was from someone I gave birth to twenty-one years ago. He did not hesitate in bending down, making sure I was okay, and offering to help me up. A few minutes later, after getting seated and attempting to casually give the impression that falling in front of a gymnasium of on-lookers is as natural as bending down to tie my shoes, and pretending that my knees were not feeling a fair amount of pain, I tapped my son on the shoulder. I said, “Brady, thank you for helping me up right away instead of passing right by me and pretending you didn’t know me. I really appreciate that.” And I did. I really did appreciate that. I thanked him, and I thanked God for a reminder that my husband (who was also concerned but was in front of me and did not realize what happened until I was back up on my feet) and I are blessed with three sons, a daughter, and a daughter-in-law who are genuinely kind-hearted in a world where kindness is underrated.

I am not going to pretend that tripping and falling in public is an example of a personal crisis, but I am sharing it as an example of when there was a choice to be made. Dwell on the negatives and suffer in a standstill or even backwards direction, or else find something to thank God for in the midst of a mess and move forward. Keep praying about the mess, because we have a God who hears us and cares about our circumstances more than we even realize. But find something to thank Him for as well. Thanksgiving launches our momentum in the midst of a mess. The decision is ours.