When I was thirteen, the world was young, innocent, and laden with big hair. The eighties will always be my formative years and while I might not have been the coolest kid in class, or all of school, or at church, or anywhere else I went, I enjoyed my social invisibility. There was no pressure to dress like a jerk or listen to sugary eighties music; I chose to do those things all on my own.
Yet, there was one sample in my portfolio of nerdness I would just have soon done away with; I was terrible with the whole “girl” thing. I got cooties around twelve years old and the results were severe. For example, I was head over heels in love with a girl (let’s call her “Moonbeam”) from church who had no shortage of attention from boys. My attempts at charming conversation, summed up by my use of eloquent words like “merm” and “blub,” did little to help me compete with the other male suitors.
Unlike most thirteen-year-olds, I was obsessed with marriage. I wanted to spend the rest of my life with Moonbeam and I needed divine confirmation, so I got down on my knees at bedtime, put my two hands together, shut my eyes into a squint and said, “Lord, whomever I dream about tonight, I know that you are telling me that that is the girl I am supposed to marry. Amen.” I crawled into bed, went to sleep, and BOOM! God spoke to me, people! He told me I was supposed to marry Moonbeam! Who saw that coming?! Imagine my surprise the next morning. I determined that I needed to tell her about this important revelation from God that would change both our lives.
After church one Sunday night, I pulled her off to the side and, after a good forty-five minutes of the Merm and Blub show, I told her about my prayer and my dream. “We are to be married! Isn’t that great news?”
It went over like you might expect. She treated me like any beautiful thirteen-year-old girl would treat a prepubescent leper.
So, what went wrong? Doesn’t God answer heartfelt prayers? Does He even talk to us at all?
According to a former professor of mine, God talks to us in three ways:
• through word,
• through the world, and
• through the Word who came into the world.”
God talks to us through the words of Scripture. The Bible is His story told to us His way. He talks to us through the world in which we live, where complexity and beauty come together to bring depth to the story of Scripture. And all of that story comes to us through Jesus Christ, who isn’t simply a character in the story, but is the Story itself.
I know, you’re not amused or impressed. I sympathize. At the end of the day, all you want to know is, “When I ask Him a question, why doesn’t He just answer me?” If God answered my prayer that night all those years ago, what in blue blazes was it? The Bible is not going to tell me who to marry. The world has proven a terrible matchmaker. So, when and how does God answer prayers like this?
The answers change depending on the question. Often, the answer doesn’t come right away. If you ask the Lord to reveal to you your future spouse, you may not get the answer until you’re standing there looking lovesick at the altar in front of your bride or groom. Other questions might reveal answers on Judgment Day. Those are difficult because we want the Lord to answer us right now. We are such children.
Perhaps the most difficult of all is when we ask a question to which the answer is “no.” At that point, we are painfully reminded that God is a Father, not a vending machine. God blesses us according to His own pleasure in his own time, not according to our narrow shopping list.
I did date a woman years later who would become my fantastic wife. I did not ask for a dream or divine confirmation. I simply trusted that the Lord would work it all out for good, whatever the outcome.
So, you want to know if God talks? All the time. Does He answer prayer? Absolutely. How do we hear the answer? By listening carefully and patiently, even if at first, all we hear is “merm” and “blub.”
The Book of Revelation is a scary book to many people. All those mysterious and outlandish symbols in the book cause most Christians to write it off as an impossible read. But are there blessings today for reading the last book of the Bible?