Thursday, February 20, 2014

Yes and No

A friend of mine and his wife are facing major life changes. He was praying about what to do and, his text said, the instructions he received were, "Ask Leanna."  I'm still praying, but this story is part of my answer. 

More than a decade ago, I spent several years taking a major American city as my prayer focus each year. My city of focus one particular year was Chicago.  For months, I had been praying for revival there.  I had written a 40-day prayer guide, and I had spoken to numerous groups, recruiting people to pray with me for Chicagoland.  

I had planned a prayer walk/exploratory trip to the city so that I could evaluate the ministry opportunities and needs.  The week before I was to leave, it looked as if nothing was going to come together.  I was to stay with people I didn’t really know.  There was no clear plan for each day.  I became more nervous with each passing day.  

Over and over, I prayed, “Lord, make it clear what I’m to do.  Why am I going?  What am I to do when I get there?  This doesn’t make sense to me.  I look like a nut trying to explain that I’m going somewhere, but I don’t know exactly where, and I don’t know what I’m going to do when I get there, nor do I know exactly how long I’m going to stay.  This is crazy, and I don’t like it!” God was very quiet.  He did not fill in the details, nor did He let me off the hook.  His last instruction to me had been to go.  As far as I could tell, nothing had changed.  

Two days before I was to leave, I was almost overwhelmed with the desire to cancel.  I didn’t want to make the 12-hour drive and I certainly didn’t want to maneuver in big-city traffic.  I just wanted to stay home on my little farm, bake bread, and pick vegetables.  Truthfully, I began to practice how I would explain away my failure to obey.  “God closed that door at the last minute,” was the explanation I thought most likely to succeed.  Neither my friends nor my family were comfortable waiting for God to reveal the plan until I arrived on site in Chicago, and they would have welcomed my decision to cancel.  

The day before my trip, I had already cancelled – in my mind.  Then, I thought about how I would explain the decision to Ryan.  My twelve-year old son was not easily deceived.  He knew I was sure that God had told me to go.  There was no way to cancel and still save face with him.  I had to go.  Once again, I sat down to discuss the trip with the Lord, but with a new attitude.  “Lord,” I prayed, “I want to do what You want.  I just don’t understand, and I don’t know how to carry out a plan I can’t recognize.  Show me what to do.”  I was willing to do anything, no matter how silly I looked to the people around me.  

I sat back down at the computer and checked my email again.  Sylvie Raquel, my Chicago contact, had sent me a message.


just found out that the church close by is hosting a mission group of 10 college students for 2 weeks. Their original plans fell so they ended up among us. They will be doing some prayer walks as well as helping churches. If you are interested, I can connect you with them. One person

has volunteered to be their chauffeur with a van, so you could maybe drive with them. I think that they are going downtown Chicago on Thursday. Let me know if you are interested.  Sylvie

There are no words to describe how grateful I was for that precious email.  There was a plan!  God had worked everything out, weaving together enthusiastic college students from Oklahoma and a reluctant prayer warrior from Mississippi to accomplish His work.  He even provided someone else to do the “city driving.”  

Needless to say, I went.  The trip was wonderful.  The driving was (mostly) easy.  The students were a delight.  My hosts were gracious and kind.  Enroute to Chicago, the plan completely unfolded and I knew exactly what to do when I arrived. God had everything worked out. But not before my heart was willing to go without a plan.  

The last morning in Chicago, I opened my Bible to Matthew and read:  

A man had two sons, and he came to the first and said ‘Son, go to work today in the vineyard.’  And he answered, ‘I will not’; but afterward he regretted it and went.  The man came to the second and said the same thing; and he answered ‘I will, sir’; but he did not go.  Which of the two did the will of his father?’
Matthew 21:28-31 NAS

How close I had come to being the second son, saying I would go, but not going!  It was all because God had a plan but He hadn’t told me. 

Is God asking you to do something you don't understand? Has He asked you to go without clearly outlining all your steps? 
We serve a God who is always dependable, always faithful.  Obedience is not always easy, but it’s always best – even when you can’t see the plan. Next time God says “Go,” say, “Yes.”
Then, do it.