This Sunday, I am finally going to a church service for the first time in a month (travel/volunteer duties have gotten in the way). yay! I am also spending some time in prayer for friends, including praising God for my friend, Kathleen, whose story I'd love to share with you here.
I unfortunately don't feel like I have the most bold or impressive capacity for faith, even though Faith is my middle name, and one might think it would be a discipline I would have worked harder at. But I do marvel at it in others.
I am in a women's bible study where we're currently using some Beth Moore study materials. A couple of months ago, Beth challenged us to consider whether there was something we'd been praying for, for a long time, but gave up praying for just when God might have been ready to give us what we'd been longing for? This was in the context of Zechariah [Luke 1] wanting a son, and ultimately receiving one, John the Baptist.
I can tend to get dismissive about these types of bible study questions that get personal, and lean more towards focussing on the cerebral challenges. But my friend Kathleen took the question seriously. She shared with our group that when she first moved into town, she was praying for her husband to get a teaching job close enough to home that he wouldn't need to take a long commute. The close proximity would support their desired life style of using the car less and spending more time together as a family. She prayed and she prayed for a long time, and after much waiting, he got a teaching job and everyone rejoiced, and she stopped praying about it.
Thing is, the teaching job was not close to home, and he had to spend hours a day carting himself back and forth. But challenged by the study's question, Kathleen wondered if she's settled too quickly, if she'd given up believing that God had something better for her family if she could just have faith and patience. So she took her prayers up again. And she charged our whole group to join her. And she charged all the groups she knew that got together praying regularly. And we all prayed.
Here's the thing, we live in a really small town. There are not multiple schools for each age level, just one elementary/middle/high. Not a ton of teaching jobs to go around. Many of us had been involved in a group trying to address budget shortfalls the district was anticipating. We knew just how grim things looked. Millions of dollars behind, the only thing that seemed likely was more cuts/layoffs/over-crowded classrooms. There was a big part of me that was mostly smiling and nodding as Kathleen prayed, but I prayed alongside her. I mostly prayed, wondering how God would teach her to change her desires because it seemed so unlikely that He would fulfill them so specifically.
She knows God is not a vending machine. She knows full well that we don't just get everything we want. And still, she had faith that if she was honest enough to let God into that very intimate, private place, where her deepest desires and greatest ambitions lay, that God might deign to bless her in just the way she wanted. That's scary. That's bold. That's a big emotional, spiritual, and (as she invited us into the project) social risk. And she went for it anyways. Part of the process involved praying that God would give her enough faith to keep praying for this thing.
And then this community group's organizing paid off and a new school budget was voted in. A school budget that involved hiring two new teachers for the district. One of those positions got swooped up right away. The one left was in the age group where Kathleen's husband had experience. Exactly one shot. And it was one shot more than most of us dreamed would have been possible. So he applied, and as I'm sure you're not surprised by now, we just found out, he got the job!
More often than not, when I pray, God doesn't give me exactly what I want. He molds me through the process. But had I given up believing that God wants to satisfy our desires, here and now?
I'm just amazed by my friend's boldness in prayer. I think it speaks so highly of how God is growing her faith and her heart. In addition to the spiritual triumph, I think this is also a beautiful story of marriage. I think one of the most important things spouses need to do is support one another's dreams. Even if your partner doesn't believe his/her dream is realizable, we need to keep faith, in both them and in God, that their best is within reach. Kathleen showed herself to be an ambitious wife, a visioning mother (chasing after a lifestyle that enabled more family time), and faithful daughter of God. And I just can't help but celebrate the amazing woman that she is. She encourages and inspires me, and I hope her story can inspire you too.
What long standing prayer do you need to revive and revisit with God right now? Can I join you in praying for that thing? Because I am learning to have a bit more faith now, and this prayer thing is so exciting to be a part of!