The pain was real, even if the cause is now forgotten and buried in the dust of twenty-some years’ passing. But I do remember the heartache I felt that day–
pain that made me wonder if God cared,
pain that prompted me to cry out for assurance that I wasn’t alone in my sorrow.
God, listen! Listen to my prayer,
listen to the pain in my cries.
Don’t turn your back on me
just when I need you so desperately. Psalm 102:1,2 MSG
Later that morning as I passed a window on the west side of the house, I saw three birds perched in the tall shrubbery: a male cardinal, a male goldfinch, and a male indigo bunting.
Was it a coincidence that these three birds, arrayed in primary-colored feathers, should be sitting
. . . in the same bush
. . . at the same time
. . . on the side nearest the window
. . . soon after I had prayed for comfort?
What are the odds?
Call to me and I will answer you. Jeremiah 33:3
I called. God answered.
* * * * *
Sometimes He answers our prayers in a vibrant, multi-colored “yes.”
But what if God answers differently?
Sometimes, for our own good and the good of others, He must say “no.”
My God, I cry out by day, but you do not answer,
by night, but I find no rest. Psalm 22:2 NIV
Sometimes the answer is “wait,” and we learn to lean close to our Savior and rest, however impatiently, in his grace and loving-kindness.
I wait for the Lord, my whole being waits,
and in his word I put my hope.
I wait for the Lord
more than watchmen wait for the morning, Psalm 130:5,6 NIV
* * * * *
The cardinal, goldfinch, and indigo bunting’s appearance was an avian trifecta of reassurance during a painful time in my life.
God hears and answers our prayers with the trifecta of replies: “yes,” “no,” or “wait.” Each is a successful outcome of the prayer process.
My prayer for us all:
May we continue to turn to the Lord with our heartaches and thankful hearts. May we seek, recognize, and accept God’s answers to our prayers, confident in His great love for us.
I call on you, my God, for you will answer me; turn your ear to me and hear my prayer. Psalm17:6 NIV
What I do, God, is wait for you,
wait for my Lord, my God—you will answer!
I wait and pray. . . Psalm 38:15 MSG
Listen, God, I’m calling at the top of my lungs:
“Be good to me! Answer me!”
When my heart whispered, “Seek God,”
my whole being replied,
“I’m seeking him!”
Don’t hide from me now! Psalm27:7-9 MSG
A Canaanite woman from that vicinity came to him, crying out, “Lord, Son of David, have mercy on me! Matthew 15:22 NIV
Answer me when I call to you,
my righteous God.
Give me relief from my distress;
have mercy on me and hear my prayer. Psalm 4:1 NIV
Which of you, if your son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him! Matthew 7:9-11 NIV
I’ve thrown myself headlong into your arms—
I’m celebrating your rescue.
I’m singing at the top of my lungs,
I’m so full of answered prayers. Psalm 13:5-6 MSG
goldfinch and three sunflowers photo by Barb Briggs
indigo bunting photo by By Dawn Scranton from Cornwall, Ontario, Canada (Indigo Bunting) [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons
As I drove down rural roads last June, my three-year-old grandson and I played a game to pass the time and practice identifying colors and shapes. I would tell him what I saw, and he would look for it.
“I see a yellow sign shaped like a triangle.”
“I see a red barn.”
“I see blue flowers.” I pointed to the plants lining the shoulder of the highway. “They’re called chickory.”
“Chickadee,” said my grandson, thinking he was repeating what I’d said.
“Chickory.” I corrected.
He was familiar with “chickadee,” so that was the word he heard.
New is hard. It takes a while to twist our tongue around a new word or to open the door a crack to a new idea.
When the apostle Paul was on the road to Damascus, he saw a bright light and heard a voice saying, “I am Jesus of Nazareth, whom you are persecuting.” I might have answered, “So, God, I keep persecuting the Christians, right?” but Paul answered, “What shall I do, Lord?” Paul was willing to hear something new.
Perhaps none of us will see a blinding light, and few will be asked to take the gospel to far-away nations, but all of us may be asked to speak to someone we don’t know, think about a Bible verse in a different way, or consider a new ministry.
Be alert, be present. I’m about to do something brand-new. It’s bursting out!
Isaiah 43:19 The Message
So if you sense God is talking to you, take your fingers out of your ears, and be ready to hear something new. Chickory!
background photo by Barb Briggs