A little flashback Friday coming at an appropriate time. My selfishness and near-sightedness has gotten the best of me this morning and my sweet husband bears the brunt of it. Oh how this life is not about us, not even about me, and not even a little bit. But, oh how marvelous are the blessings of our Savior despite that fact. I am so undeservedly blessed that I am guilty at times to feel as though it’s all about me, and yet, this story written and recalled during another time of my life, gently reminds me that I can boast in nothing. What a great reminder that He answers even when we do not ask.
The Growth of a Soul, a book about the life of Hudson Taylor. What a great name. What a great life! I wonder what a book about my life would be named…
…I can’t even think of clever quips. Nothing symbolizing the (not so) dramatic ups and downs, and of course, the symbolic “climb” to the top of my molehill that somehow felt like a mountain in the process. How naive of me. How little I have truly accomplished!
I wonder if Hudson Taylor felt that way at 23 (nearly 24). All I can think of at the moment is that I have impeccable taste in music and a nasty habit of speaking my mind (even when I don’t know what I’m talking about, unfortunately). And those are hardly book titles. More like poorly worded reviews, actually.
The point of this is not to pity myself, or have you pity me, for that matter. It’s an overly dramatic attempt to set up for the next part of this entry. I think they call that
good writingbuilding a climax. The point of this is to tell you how thankful I am for a God that lavishes His love upon me, even when I’m ungrateful, especially when I’m unworthy, and in spite of my blind eyes.
The point of this is to tell a story – a story I was so appropriately reminded of this evening as I walked into a coffeehouse, fighting back tears, rounding the corner to find my favorite spot vacant, as if waiting for me. I am certain that it was.
Sophomore year of college, during the Fall semester, I drove up to Starbucks on Northgate to study for Organic Chemistry. I was exhausted. I had so much to do. I was headed to get caffeine and close the place down. All I wanted to do was go home. I was frustrated with being in school, being in such a rigorous course as O-Chem, and was struggling to see the point with a degree when all I wanted to do was get married, move overseas, and share Jesus with people around the world (oh how my perspective has changed and yet my dreams grown stronger).
I persisted, pulling up to Starbucks in the dark, bitter and yet resigned, and all the while angry at God. I thought to myself, and to Him, I better get my favorite seat by the window when I get in there. He was, after all, indebted to me since I was doing this “school thing” against my wishes, albeit with a bad attitude. As I collected my things, I realized that I had failed to bring an essential to working out chemical reactions and figuring equations – a pencil. I didn’t even have a pen. Maybe someone in there will have a pen I can borrow, I thought. And then I retorted, glancing upwards, you’ll just have to do something about that too!
I trudged inside, glancing around for an empty seat. Rounding the corner, to my smug satisfaction, I saw my favorite table open. Smug, because I dismissed this act of God as a fluke, throwing Him an ungrateful and insincere, thanks. I threw my stuff on the table, and just as I was about to address my pencil crisis, something in the windowsill caught my attention.
A pencil, you say? No. See, in my arrogance, I would have dismissed that as readily as I had the vacant table. No. There was no pencil in the window. Instead, there was an unopened package of pens and highlighters. I don’t remember my exact response at that moment, but right now I blush and tear up at the thought of my insolence. I remember being shocked. Humbled beyond belief. Mostly, though, I felt undeserving.
The kind words of my sweet Father flooded my mind as I held that package of pens and highlighters. My child. Do you see how I answer even this, the least of your requests? Even tonight, the ones you so carelessly threw in my direction? Do you see how I have responded and provided? And how do you think, if I have answered these paltry requests, how do you think I will respond to greater needs you require, and greater requests on behalf of others? Of your family? Of your friends? Of the lost?
I had no words. I still have no words today. Today, as I walked into the coffeehouse, broken and feeling dejected, with only self-centered thoughts coursing through my mind, I didn’t even have the impudence I had 4 years ago to throw up spiteful requests. I said nothing to Him. And as I rounded that corner and saw my table waiting for me, this story hit me like a brick.
Child, He says, I answer even when you do not ask. “How great is the love the Father has lavished upon us, that we should be called Children of God” 1 John 3:1. It truly is great.
I forget to share this story. I forget it because I am a sinner, but also because the devil cringes when I remember it, and when I tell it. It is a crystal clear representation of the goodness and faithfulness of our Father. And a reminder for us to pray, even when we don’t feel like it. It’s a reminder that He always hears us, and always listens.
Hudson Taylor was a great man because he prayed great prayers that God answered. Great things happened because of the prayers He prayed and the answers He received. That is the legacy I long for.
I still don’t know what my book would be called, but I have an idea about what I’d like for a subtitle. She always had the ear of her Father. Because I do. I have His love too, and it is abundant and faithful. I pray that I always remember that. I pray that you are encouraged by my story, because it is just as true for you. He will always meet you where you are, providing exactly what you need, even if that need is prime seating and a pen.