God does give us answers to prayer, but sometimes they’re not always in ways we expect. Read about Dan’s experience with prayer, and a bird (that’s the unexpected part in case you were wondering!).
During college I refused to buy a parking pass. Actually, refused is the wrong word, that makes it sound like I had a choice. I couldn’t afford a parking pass. This was a good thing for several reasons, it forced me to take the earliest classes the college offered, and made certain that I showed up at least 15 minutes earlier than every other commuting student in order to get the prime free parking spaces about a half mile away. I didn’t mind the walk. It gave me time to wake up before class, and to decompress after many tedious lectures, tests and study hours. There was other value to those walks as well. Often I would take time to pray aloud during these strolls on and off campus.
These prayers were often informal pleas. I would talk to God as if He were walking beside me on my way to or from my car. Often I would pray that I would pass a test I had just taken, or that I would stay awake for my 45 minute drive into work directly after class was over. I would pray for my sweet wife and our precious new-born son of whom I was seeing less and less. My prayers weren’t without gratitude, I would thank Him for the crisp autumn air, the beautiful cleaning snow (I love snow) I was tramping through, or the rain. I freely admit that my appeals were often laced with complaint. I would lament my overwhelming schedule, and how I didn’t know how I was going to be able to manage 18 credit hours while working full time. I would gripe about my car which lacked air-conditioning or the ability to go over 70 miles per hour. Yes, my prayers ran the gamut of what you would expect prayers to be.
There was a section of this period of my life when all the pressures of school, work and my family responsibilities began to overwhelm me. On top of the regular stresses, I was also cycling through a particularly nasty bout with anxiety and depression. Everything became so incredibly difficult. I felt like I was seeing everything through smudged glass while wearing a lead vest. My wife, having seen me go through these bouts from time to time knew that it had become serious when I would struggle to put on my socks. That’s right. The simple act of putting on my socks in the morning became a mini-mountain to scale. I slogged through a colorless, bleak existence.
My now nearly daily walk-prayers became ever so much more pleading and complaint filled. I would pray that I would just be able to make it through the day. I would pray that the shackles of depression would just be taken from me. Days, weeks, and months passed by painstakingly slowly. Prayers turned to anguished groans. I felt fully bereft of joy.
Finally, it came to a head. I was starting to get frustrated and somewhat angry with God. I couldn’t imagine what in the world I was supposed to learn from having to bear the burden of my mental anguish any longer. Then came the moment I decided I had had enough. On that particular walk to my class that morning, as I had been offering up my customary grouse-filled oration, I lifted my eyes heaven-wards and nearly shouted to the sky, “God, where in the heck are you? Can you at least show me a sign that you care at all about me or my pain??” My pleading must have pierced the veil of heaven. God heard me alright. It was at the very moment the last word escaped my lips when, what I can only describe as a condor-worthy sized load of bird poop landed on my head.
With initial disgust I reached up my hand up to wipe the gooey mess from my head and face. With a certain level of unbelief at what had just happened I looked skyward again and voiced, “Really?? Is that how You are going to answer me by having a bird unload on me?? Is that supposed to make me feel better?” Suddenly, the humor of what had happened hit me and I began to laugh. For the first time in weeks I found humor in something. Here I had been whining ad nauseam to God, complaining about how I didn’t know what was going to get me through another day, begging for Him to lighten my load, and instead He has a bird lighten its load on me! It was as if He was telling me, “Dan, relax! Quit taking yourself so seriously, I’m here! I love you! Here’s some bird poo to prove it!” In a lighter and more pleasant frame of mind than I had been for weeks, I chuckled all the way to class that morning.
God knows us. He cares. I truly believe that. Though during so many of my moments of tortuous depression, I felt so woefully alone, I know He was there listening. I believe that he helped me carry on when I thought I couldn’t. I know that he assisted me in getting socks on my feet each morning. And I know that at that moment of extreme desperation, as I challenged whether or not He cared at all, He put the flight path of an overburdened bird directly over my head. I would have never dreamed that a prayer could be answered in that manner, but for me, that day, there might not have been any better answer. God works in mysterious, if not sometimes messy ways.
I am thankful to a God that has a sense of humor. I am thankful to a God that at those times of acute distress will find a way to intervene and assist us, even when it might be in the last way we would ever imagine or think might be beneficial. I am thankful for those hundreds of miles I walked over the course of my undergraduate degree. I am glad that I have prayer at my disposal wherever and whenever I need it. My only advice is be careful when you are out in the open praying for relief, you never know just what type of “blessing” might fall out of the sky. 🙂
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