This past Christmas season, when my husband, Joe, took our old Christmas tree out of storage, we discovered that most of the lights on it were dead. I loved this old tree because it already had everything on it that I liked most - artificial snow, holly berries, pine cones, and a multitude of lights. I pleaded with Joe to replace the dead lights, but he refused, and he insisted that it was time to shop for a new tree. When we began combing the stores, we discovered that Christmas trees with my preferences were extremely rare. In fact, we found only one tree that met my specifications. The only problem was that it was seven and a half feet tall, and 53 inches in diameter. Now, if you know anything about artificial Christmas trees, then you know just how huge this one was. Three nights in a row, we went back to that store to gaze longingly at it. It looked like something out of a magazine with its stunning array of lights, berries, pine cones, and covering of snow. "It's beautiful, but it's just too big for our living room," Joe would say every time we saw it, or spoke of it. As I prayed that the Lord would make a way for us to buy my dream tree, Joe and I set about rearranging the furniture in our living room, and measuring to see if there was any way to make room for it. "Nope, it won't fit," was Joe's conclusion, and we resigned ourselves to buying a tree that would be nice, but not what we really wanted.
Finally, I went online and placed an order for our second-choice tree at the same store that had our dream tree. That's when I broke down and started to cry. "I'm so sorry, Lord. I know that it's just a Christmas tree, but I really had my heart set on that bigger and more beautiful tree. Please forgive me for making such a big deal of this matter, and grant us Your perfect will." As I waited to hear from our local store that our new tree was ready for pick-up, I received a phone call from a representative saying that our second-choice tree was not in stock. I told him that their website clearly stated that they had one reserved for me, but he insisted that it was an error, and he apologized profusely. When I asked him if he had my dream tree in stock, he said that he would check for me if I didn't mind hanging on the phone for a few moments. As I waited for his answer, I prayed, "Lord, is this mix-up Your doing? Please don't let us miss out on Your absolute best in this situation." When the store representative came back on the line, he said that they had one of my dream trees in stock, and that I could pick it up that evening. "But I was in your store last night, and you were out of them then," I told him. "Well, that must have been a mistake, because we have one of those bigger trees available for you right now." I asked if he would honor the internet price, which was lower than the price we would have paid in the store, and he said that he would be happy to. So we not only got our first-choice tree, but we got it at a lower price than we expected. Joe was still concerned about its size, but when we got it home that evening, we managed to fit it into a corner of our living room where it filled our house with brilliance and beauty everyone could enjoy.
This experience reminded me of two essential life lessons. First, when we refuse to "edit" our prayers, and when we tell the Lord how we really feel when things don't seem to be going our way, we pave the way for Him to pleasantly surprise us with unexpected answers to our prayers. Scripture says, "The Lord is near to all who call upon Him, to all who call upon Him sincerely and in truth." (Psalm 145:18 AMP) When I started to cry and confess my disappointment to the Lord, and apologized for making such a "big deal" about my situation, He was pleased with my sincerity, and He revealed His presence and power in a seemingly "small" matter, simply because He knew how much it meant to me.
Second, when we fear God in our decision-making, and submit to His will, we give Him the option to fulfill our desires in the situation. The next verse in Psalm 145 says, "He will fulfill the desires of those who reverently and worshipfully fear Him; He also will hear their cry and save them." (Psalm 145:19 AMP) Even though I was bitterly disappointed by the thought of missing out on my dream tree, I made the decision to submit to God's perfect will in the matter - demonstrating my genuine reverence for Him, and my belief that He always knows and wants what is best for me. As a result, He graciously "heard my cry" and "saved me" from the disappointment I dreaded.
Don't make the mistake of editing your prayers. The Lord deserves your honesty and sincerity, and if you trust Him enough to share your true feelings with Him at all times, He will honor your faith in Him by doing unexpected and extraordinary things in your life. Revere Him, His ways, and His Word above all things, and you won't have to live your life constantly settling for second best.
Prayer: Lord, I'm sorry for the times that I edited my prayers, instead of pouring out my heart to You, and sharing with You my true feelings and desires. I ask that You deliver me from all the fears that would keep me from being totally honest with You. Fill me with faith in Your wisdom, Your goodness, and Your mercy, so that I can have a deep trust in You that enables me to submit to You in every situation without reservation. Thank You that as I show You the respect and trust You deserve, I will receive Your very best!
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