by Christie Browning
It was a dark, lonely time in my life. Although I had friends and family rallying around me, I still felt like I was waging war on my own. This spot in life was more than tough, it took everything out of me....
My fight took place in a small backroom inside the county courthouse. I was waiting for the jury to come back with a verdict on my guilt or innocence regarding a fraud charge I was facing. The details and circumstances that lead me there are long and tedious, but I remember sitting in that small room - just a few outdated furnishings and me - praying. I was praying in bold faith that God would surround me with protection and deliver me from this "unfair" situation. It was the kind of prayer that incorporated scripture and one that would rival the great Old Testament prophets. I was that sure God was gonna do something big, and I was prepared to give Him all the glory for it.
If you know my story or have heard me speak, you know exactly how this ends. I didn't get the answer to my prayer - I was sentenced to two years in prison. What happened? Why didn't that answer to prayer come through? Isn't the Scriptures that say if you have faith the size of a mustard seed you can move mountains? I had faith that would have filled buckets at that moment.
To say I was disappointed in God would be an understatement. In fact, I was furious with God and spent a good couple of weeks totally ticked off at my Heavenly Father. I felt betrayed, forgotten and foolish for putting hope in something that didn't pan out, but I would soon realize that God had a different plan for me - one that would be hard, but doable with His help.
Before I tell you the rest of my experience, I have to share what prompted this particular post. Yesterday at church, a guest speaker told his version of a time he prayed in faith. His story was this:
My son and I were going to mow the yard, but we had lost the key to the tractor in the grass. It seemed impossible that we would find this key in some two acres of grass, but my son suggested we should pray and ask God for help. I immediately thought, oh no... what if we pray and it doesn't work...what if we still don't find the key? How am I going to explain that to my son? But we knelt down in the grass and prayed. When we stood up, I saw my neighbor in his yard - he happens to have the same model of tractor. I asked if he might have an extra key that we could use and he said no. However, he knew something about our make and model of mower - if you use a piece of metal, about the size of a key, and stick it in the ignition, you can sometimes get it to start. He handed us a piece of metal to try and we headed back to the mower. I jammed the metal piece into the ignition, turned it and yes... the mower started.
It was amazing to see this man, who all of us in the pews would have said had great faith, struggle with trusting God's answer to his prayer. As he told the story, my eyes filled with tears because I can completely understand his reservations... I've felt them, and maybe you have too.
As this speaker closed, he said:
I may not have a pocket full of keys, but I do have a pocket full of scraps and pieces that God uses at just the right time and in just the right way. I'm a McGyver of sorts with the junk I have to use.
The lesson he learned in that moment, and the lesson I learned in that prison cell, was that God has ways much higher than we can conceive. When my prayer wasn't answered ... it wasn't a sign of my faith failing.. rather it was my time to lean on that faith even more, knowing God had a bigger plan, a different way He was going to show up and work. In the end, I wouldn't have changed a single thing about that experience. That trial taught me how to trust God again, see Him in a whole new way, and depend on Him as my refuge, protector, Father.
You see, we want to look at the evidence of our prayers to prove our faith is real and God works, but in truth, faith comes from "things hoped for and not seen." Therefore, real faith holds a steady course even when the key is not found or the verdict not what we had hoped - faith holds us up, believing God is still at work on our behalf, we just haven't seen the entire picture yet.
What are you praying for today? Is it something specific? Are you keeping your eyes open to see other ways God might be working? Are you doing the necessary work to strengthen your faith so that you have a firm foundation to stand on as God reveals His plan?