Prayer and Umbrellas

[Part 6: After a brief break while transitioning, I’ve resumed the narrative of God’s calling me into counseling in an urban setting as part of a health care team. The first five parts covered June 2010 through October 2012. This entry takes us up to November 2012. Six or seven more installments, and the story will be up to date.]

After working for 16 hours on Tuesday, I counseled for a full day on Wednesday, picked up a friend nearby, and started the overnight drive to Louisville, KY, for the Global Missions Health Conference. For reasons that still remain mysterious to all of us, the five intrepid motorists decided to drive overnight, rather than leave early in the morning and miss the first break-out session of the conference.

Unfortunately, I lost the art of napping several years ago, so even though I had a driving break, I didn’t sleep. I couldn’t sleep either after we settled in at our gracious hosts’ home and took much-needed showers. So I drank coffee, attended the break-out session, and thoroughly enjoyed the worship and main session. By the time it ended and we returned back to our hosts’ home, I had been awake for 41 hours. Dave took one look at me and gave me his professional recommendation: sleep!

The next morning, I meandered into GMHC’s prayer room—which was amazing and definitely worth the price of admission! Sculptures, tapestries with verses, maps, interactive displays, candles, rugs, plants, pillows were all arranged in little corners that provided privacy and community. As I opened my prayer journal to pray, I saw a quote from Faith’s Checkbook by Charles Spurgeon that I had copied earlier that morning:

“The Lord is not dependent upon ordinary methods but can surprise His people with novelties of wisdom and power. Thus we are made to see more of God than ordinary processes could have revealed. Although the Lord may not appear for us in the way we expect, or desire, or suppose, yet He will in some way or other provide for us. … Alas! We too often fail in the exhibition of true and practical faith! Let us this day be on the outlook for answers to prayer. As the child who went to a meeting to pray for rain took an umbrella with her, so let us truly and practically expect the Lord to bless us. Let us make the valley full of ditches (2 Kings 3:16-17), and expect to see them all filled!”

While praying for Christ’s kingdom and my own needs, I was overwhelmed by how lost I felt and prayed for direction. Specifically, since I dislike feeling pressured by people working in ministry booths, I prayed that God would lead me to someone who could help me with the disparate puzzle pieces and that He would lead me to that person indirectly. I knew that if I walked up to a booth, and the worker started telling me why I should go to his country, that I would get even more confused. I also knew that I was still physically tired and thus more vulnerable to emotional decisions. Drying my tears, I took a deep breath and walked out toward the booths with my umbrella, looking for rain…

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