Do you remember those lines in Evan Almighty where Morgan Freeman, playing God, says: “Let me ask you something. If someone prays for patience, you think God gives them patience? Or does he give them the opportunity to be patient? If he prayed for courage, does God give him courage, or does he give him opportunities to be courageous? If someone prayed for the family to be closer, do you think God zaps them with warm fuzzy feelings, or does he give them opportunities to love each other?” Well here is my story.
Not too long ago I was at a Children’s Ministry conference. Like there often is at such conferences, there was a worship service at which those attending could spend time in prayer and, if they wanted to, ask one of the many pastors presiding to pray with them.
I happened to be sitting in the front row, and while I was praying very earnestly to God, about challenges I was facing, I was not sure I was ready to have one of the pastors pray with me. I could hear the pastors praying over those who did go forward and I could feel the movement of people back and forth. And while I most definitely believe in the power of prayer, it is not my personality to go forward and have someone pray over me.
I knew I was one of the last people left in the space and I knew only one person was still being prayed with. The other pastors had started leaving or were just quietly standing there. I was about ready to get up and leave when suddenly one of the pastors, someone I had never seen or spoken to before, came over to me and put his hand on my shoulder. These were some of his words:
“I was standing up front and God told me to come over and speak to you. He wants you to know you need to stop taking things back from him. You hand things over to Him but then you take them back and start worrying about them. God wants you to know you need to stop taking them back.”
Now this may seem like a very generic message that would make sense for a pastor to say to anyone they saw intensely praying, however, he also said some very specific things regarding the very topics I had been silently praying about. It was a very powerful moment.
As I was back in my hotel room that night and reflected on God's message to me through that pastor, I continued to pray asking God to help me trust Him completely. I prayed He would use me in service where He needed me to be and would work through me in my ministry. I asked God to help me learn to give my worries and challenges to Him and to have faith that He was with me. I asked God to help me not be anxious about items I had laid before Him in prayer.
Now here I am at a new church, not knowing anyone, needing to recruit 48 people in 4 weeks time as well as train them in a new curriculum that I am also implementing in 4 weeks time. Every day I pray to God to help me and show me the way in this endeavor and every night I wake feeling very anxious about the short time frame in which so much needs to be accomplished. And then, each time I see Morgan Freemen as God saying these words: “If someone prays for patience, you think God gives them patience? Or does he give them the opportunity to be patient? If he prayed for courage, does God give him courage, or does he give him opportunities to be courageous? If someone prayed for the family to be closer, do you think God zaps them with warm fuzzy feelings, or does he give them opportunities to love each other?”
And I know that God is giving me opportunities to completely trust Him. Where is God giving you opportunities?