by: Rich Vaughan
One of my favorite “prayer stories” is the one about a grandmother who was helping her granddaughter say bed-time prayers one night. The little girl turned to her Grandmother and asked if there was anything that she wanted for her to pray about. The grandmother said, “We need some rain”. The little girl bowed her head as did her grandmother. After praying for a couple of minutes, Grandma felt a little nudge in her side. She looked up and her granddaughter asked her, “Grandma, do you want a little thunder and lightning with that rain?”
I love that type of prayer and simple faith! And a child’s prayer is powerful. Maybe because they come at it with faith and faith alone. But the hardest time for a child or an adult is when a simple prayer, offered in faith, is answered with a “No”. At some point in our walk with Jesus we realize that every prayer is answered, but it is answered in one of three ways. (1) Yes. (2) Wait. (3) No. And we don’t like or understand “no”. And yet no’s from the Lord happen. Why? I can’t answer that except that my faith calls on me to trust God even when the door is shut, the window is closed, or the road is blocked.
Currently Debbie and I are dealing with a God “No”. As we look to the future and eventual retirement we obviously need a place to live. A parsonage is a wonderful blessing in ministry but it has some draw backs for the pastor and his family. For one, if I die while serving a church Debbie (and when we were younger, our boys) would have to move. It is the church’s home for the pastor and no matter how much they hurt for the surviving parsonage family the church has to have the parsonage available for the next pastor. Two, as you live in parsonage situations you do not build up equity as you would if you owned a home. So when a pastor retires they must find a place to live. Either by renting, purchasing, or building a home. By the way, I am not complaining, Debbie and I have been blessed to live in many wonderful parsonages that felt like “our home” from the day we moved in until the day we moved out. All that brings me to God’s “no” in our life.
We thought we knew where we were going to move, what land we wanted and type of house we wanted to build, but small things kept popping up that caused detours and delays. Then overnight the price of wood tripled, which obviously had a major effect on the price of the house. Finally, it became clear that the small signals we had been picking up from God was a No to this idea. So as far as a retirement home we are back to ground zero. It is a lesson in faith and prayer for Debbie and I. Remarkably, we are not panicking or lying awake at night worrying over this issue. However, if some things don’t happen before July of 2021 someone reading this is about to have some house guests for an extended visit! :)
In all seriousness, this is where Debbie’s and my faith holds us. We both firmly believe that God closed this one door for a reason. We don’t know why but He did and we trust God. Right now the answer to our prayer has gone from a “no” to a “wait”. I won’t say that is easy, but I will say it is what we must do if we truly believe in God and answered prayer. It is a humble lesson for your pastor but may it also be a reminder to us all. And who knows, maybe in the end Debbie and I will get a little thunder and lightning with our answered prayer. Amen & Amen.