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Prayers, Answers, and Fantasies August 14, 2014

Posted by michaelnjohns in Uncategorized.

Years ago, I prayed for myself and got dramatic “yes” answers.  Direction, family, provision.  I married the best wife in the history of marriage.  People joke about themselves or someone else thinking they are God’s gift to whomever, but no joke, she is a perfect gift straight from God.  I wish I was worthy, but I’m not worthy.  (Thank you, Wayne and Garth.)  All you people who think you have the perfect spouse, I’m sorry to burst your bubble but mine is the best.  On with prayers for direction, I attended seminary and completed a degree.  And on with prayers about family, we have two healthy, reasonably happy, beautiful kids. Those are big “yes” answers from God.  

Recently I’ve prayed for other people and gotten subtle “yes” answers.  I’ve prayed for my kids to be successful in school and in life, and so far, so good.  I’ve prayed for other people to be happy and healthy.  I’m still waiting on a few, but happy, I’ve heard some dramatic, some subtle, but “yes.”  I’ve prayed for people in marriages with difficulty.  And seen, for some, quiet resolutions, restorations, and seen, for some, releases.  A neighbor is on the road back to health, finally feeling good again after a long illness.  A friend has gotten a divorce from a hard-hearted spouse, and then found a new marriage and sounds really happy.  I LOVE that, for my friends and neighbors and my kids.  So I’m going to keep on asking for other people to be blessed by God.

I used to ask for spiritual things – wisdom, fruitfulness, patience, etc.  The cost of wisdom is learning the folly of things, says Ecclesiastes, which was written by the wisest man ever.  And the cost of learning to be patient is having to wait, at a minimum, and learning suffering and trials, according to the New Testament.  No, thank you.  I’m not signing up for more difficulty right now until the present season of difficulty gives way to fairer seas.

But let me pray for myself?  Those prayers seem to be answered either in reverse, or with a resounding thunder-clapping earth shaking NO!  The font isn’t nearly big enough for how loud the answers have been.  I feel like I’m trapped, so logically, I ask, can I be set free from what’s got me trapped?  Can I have some direction toward a measure of happiness and success?  These seem like reasonable, logical requests.  When last I prayed for more money, I was inadvertently shorted me a day’s pay on a paycheck, but I know God is in control and God was in control of that.  They promise to pay me (but not any extra to compensate for any losses they caused).  The bank charges for overdrafts and they don’t care why the money’s not there.  I prayed in general for my margins to be enlarged, and when I did, my margins shrank.  

Sunday I read the book of Proverbs (it’s only 31 chapters long, one for every day in a long month, no big deal).  Several times I read that chasing after fantasies doesn’t end well, but diligence is supposedly its’ own reward.  In Proverbs 28 one can read:

19 Those who work their land will have abundant food,
but those who chase fantasies will have their fill of poverty.
20 A faithful person will be richly blessed,
but one eager to get rich will not go unpunished.
21 To show partiality is not good—
yet a person will do wrong for a piece of bread.
22 The stingy are eager to get rich
and are unaware that poverty awaits them.

Diligence may very well be its’ own reward, but at the moment the rewards are mostly intangible, which is the current pressing concern.  And I don’t know if I’m “eager to get rich,” so much as I have a fervent desire to be able to pay my debts and bills.  If the fantasy is wrong to want, it should mean the odds of my winning the lottery are extremely highly stacked in the “against” column, and that’s only if I actually buy a ticket.  The lottery is a fantasy, but in theory I have as much chance as anyone else.  Jonah, and other places in the Bible say that God controls the outcome of casting lots.  In the modern vernacular “casting lots” might as well be considered the same as “gambling.”  So I trust Him to make sure the right people win.  My plan is to be diligent with what I have until I win the lottery, and then be diligent with that.  So today, like other days, I got out of bed and I went to work in spite of knowing it won’t cover our expenses and existing debts.  If “eager” is daydreaming of being able to help my extended family and people I know who have bills they can’t pay, then I’m “eager.”  If “chasing” is investing a dollar once in a blue moon, then I’m “chasing.”  I rationalize, some people “invest” $4 and $5 on a coffee drink every day, which, by the way, for a 5 day a week habit comes to $1040-$1300 a year.  So if I “waste” $1 or $2 a month ($12-$24 a year) “chasing a fantasy,” then I’ll repent when I win.

But no, we’re just supposed to have faith and let God take care of us.  So we read we’re supposed to ask, “Give us this day our daily bread.”  We read “Do not worry.”  “You are worth much more than sparrows.”  The longer I go without what I think of as daily bread, the more I dislike the situation.  I don’t want to call it “worry,” or worse, “doubt,” but rather a crisis of faith that God has allowed.  I’m just tired of my little lifeboat getting bashed under cresting tidal waves so frequently.  The longer it lasts the more it IS “worry,” and “doubt.”  I wish God would shatter my worry and doubt with His powerful and swift and currently present faithful provision, more like he used to provide when I asked when was in school.  I don’t want to have doubt, and I don’t want to have a reason to doubt.  And I wish I understood why my definition of daily bread was different than God’s definition.  

Since “the diet” (by this I mean less “daily bread than I think  I need) started I’ve been increasingly hoping for the fantasy deliverance to arrive, that is to say, flashing cameras and a huge (and negotiable) cardboard check.  Tonight I may just go buy a lottery ticket.  Or not.  Most of the time I ignore it or forget it.  But you never know.  Just like people bowl 300 games and hit holes-in-one in golf and get hit by lightning, someone wins the lottery.  That would be a dramatic, swift and complete answer to my financial prayer requests.  Or I might find out that no matter how much money I have, it’ll never satisfy.  But let me be the judge of my satisfaction level.  Let it come, and I’ll let you all know how empty I feel even though I have $400M.  Or more.  

My reality has some good things to chase after.  So I’ll flirt with my wife, and spend some time with the family, and do the housework, and pray some more, and see what happens.  And then I’ll try to write some more of the novel.  We’ll see where that goes.  I don’t have delusions of J.K. Rowling status, but who knows?

Meanwhile I pray, until one or more of those monetary fantasies happens, God, “Give us this day our daily bread.”  Please.  And help me see that bread supplying and satisfying my family’s needs.  There was oatmeal at breakfast today, and chicken and rice last night.  “By His hand we all are fed,” howbeit simple provision.  Thank God the table isn’t empty, and thank God I like rice and oatmeal.  And if we have extra, help me to be wise with whatever margin you provide.  And while we don’t appear to have enough, at least from my perspective, help me not to do wrong (Proverbs 28:21) to make up for what we don’t have.  And help me to feel less discouraged.  The tidal waves make me tired.  Things wear out and take away what we are laboring to build on, which distracts us from any dreams of freedom from the looming debt crisis.  There are days when the only reason I get out of bed is because we need the income and unless I go it’s not coming.  I know everyone faces their own struggles, and part of mine is struggling to not surrender to the overwhelming pressure which has become the nature of the struggle.  It makes a person tired.  And when we’re tired we daydream.  When I daydream, I daydream that PCH and the lottery commission are both sending me checks on the regular.  It may be a fantasy, but it’s a good one.  If you pray for me, it could happen without me chasing after it.

Tevya from Fiddler on the Roof says, “If being rich is a curse, then may the Lord SMITE
me with it!  And may I NEVER RECOVER.”  Amen to that.

What’s your daydream?  What’s your dream?  What’s your struggle?  And how can I pray for you, since God seems to like it better when we pray for each other?



1. michaelnjohns - August 15, 2014

Employer did payroll correction, just for the hours missed. So that is all right now.

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