Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Answered prayers in disguise

Yes. That's my greenhouse. I hated to share this photo, but it fits so well with our topic today (and in the interest of killing my pride), I'm sharing it.

I've had problems with the panels in my greenhouse ever since I bought it. It was a kit and assembling it did not go the way I expected. 

Having a greenhouse in general has not gone the way I expected, either. 

The wind-blown look is nice for hair. It's not so nice for greenhouses. 

At first, every time the wind blew (usually accompanied by rain), one of the panels would blow out. After the rain stopped, I would retrieve the panels from the surrounding pasture, climb on my ladder, and replace the panels.

Do you have any idea how many times the wind has blown in the last two years?

At last, I hit on a great idea. I would caulk the panels in place. I've bought so many tubes of caulk, I should get a volume discount. It seemed, at first, as if the caulk-plan was going to work. The greenhouse survived several bad wind storms without problem.

Not long ago, though, we had another storm and two panels blew out from the roof. I wasn't quite tall enough to caulk around them and secure them in place, so I did what I always do. I prayed. "Lord, I need some help with this greenhouse and these panels."

Yesterday, Sam and a couple of my friends came to help. They brought a special (taller) ladder and we began to reposition one of the panels. 

The wind was blowing like crazy. 

Somehow, the wind caught a third panel and blew it out into the pasture. I retrieved that panel and returned to the first one. It blew out. We retrieved the first panel and tried again. We managed to get the first panel in place and caulked around it. 

Another big whoosh of wind blew the caulked panel out. Again. 

I retrieved it from the pasture. Again.

My friend looked at the caulk-dripping panel and said, "Do you have a tarp?"

I did. It wasn't big enough. 

I made a quick trip to the farm supply store and came home with a new tarp. It was too big. We decided to use it anyway. It was an adventure, but at last we had the tarp in place.

When I prayed for help with my greenhouse panels, I had a very specific answer in mind. I expected to have those panels caulked and in place at the end of my answered prayer. Instead, I have a big blue tarp tied with baling string on my greenhouse. The answer to my prayer doesn't look at all like I expected.

I have written and spoken about prayer for more than a decade. I know all the verses about prayer and have memorized quite a few of them. One popular verse is Mark 11:24 nasb:
Therefore, I say to you, all things for which you pray and ask, believe that you have received them, and they will be granted you." 

I prayed and asked for help with my greenhouse. I believed and it was granted. It doesn't look like what I expected. 

I know another powerful verse on prayer, however, and that's one I also pray regularly. "Thy will be done." It's one of the prayers I've prayed about my greenhouse, too, because it is the prayer that never fails.

After the caulk-dripping panel blew out, my friend walked around the greenhouse for a careful look. "When the wind and the rain stop, I believe I can fix this problem." He described a solution that will end my wind-tossed-flying-panel problem. It's a long-term solution.

The blue tarp is simply one step on the road to the answer to my prayers. 

The problem I have sometimes is that my view is more short-sighted than God's. He works from an eternal perspective. His answers to my prayers sometimes unfold with a longer view, as well. 

I wanted a quick solution to my greenhouse problem. What God has sent is a temporary measure with a better and more permanent solution yet to come. 

I'm embracing the blue tarp. It's one more reminder that prayer is always answered, but sometimes the answer looks nothing like I expected and takes longer (and more steps) than I planned. 

If your prayers seem unanswered, don't give up hope. God always answers prayers, but sometimes it takes a closer look to recognize His hand. Sometimes, it takes a big blue tarp and a roll of baling string to move you one step closer to His ultimate solution. Don't despair. The tarp isn't the end. There is more on the way. God's answer is still unfolding. And I'm so glad it is.

Pray without ceasing and never give up hope. 

In case you missed any of the past week's posts, here are the links: Grateful Heart: VeteransGrateful Heart: Laughter and Grateful Heart: Worldwide Kindness,  Remembering Paris,  Persevering for ParisResisting Evil and Praying for Peace

The most viewed post of the last week was Remembering Paris
#answeredprayer #praywithoutceasing #greenhouseadventure