My husband has had a lot of work stress lately, and this past weekend he started some projects at home and had one challenge after the other.
I so wanted him to have a victory.
He was trying to fix his bike at one point, and a spring shot across the garage. A spring he needed to finish the job. I helped him look...and look...and look some more, and even asked the kids to pray for him to find it. After a while, my exasperated husband told me to just forget it, it was gone for good. But I wouldn’t quit. I kept looking and praying; I wasn’t going to back down.
But then I heard the still, small voice of the Spirit asking, “who do you want to be glorified in this?”
And deep down I knew: myself.
I wanted to be right, to prove to my kids and my husband that God would come to the rescue - and if I’m being brutally honest, maybe to gloat a little that I knew it all along. There was also a part of me that didn’t want to stop looking because if I did and “God” didn’t produce the spring, maybe they’d doubt the power of prayer. Maybe they’d even doubt he existed. It boiled down to me wanting to prop God up by searching harder, taking matters into my own hands to rescue God’s honor. Just writing it down sounds so silly! But it’s so painfully true.
So instead of spinning my wheels continuing to look for the lost spring, I retired to my most private prayer closet when everyone is home: the bathroom with the door locked (and even then I often hear frantic knocking or kids calling for me through the door!). I went to God, sincerely asking him how he wanted me to pray.
I confessed that it was pride driving my relentless searching for the missing bike part. But as I reflected, I realized that under all the “me” junk, my heart’s desire actually was for my husband to know God loved him. I wanted him to see that God was concerned with every aspect of his life - even a bike repair. So as I continued talking with God, I became emboldened to pray passionately for him to show me where to look for the spring.
Something similar had happened years ago in another garage in another state and another life, and God had literally given me a picture in my mind of where in the garage to look for a lost bolt. I know it sounds crazy, and let me preface the exciting climax of the story by saying that I’m pretty pragmatic. I believe and am completely open to God working in miraculous, supernatural ways. But I try (maybe sometimes too hard) not to over-spiritualize things.
But as I closed my eyes and asked God to show me where the spring was, I actually saw a picture of a wheel of some sort. Not a bicycle wheel but something else, and I had a strong suspicion that if I went into the garage and found a wheel that looked like that, the spring would be nearby.
I puttered around for a few minutes and before too long found a kid’s scooter that had wheels that looked like the image in my mind. I started moving the scooter and some other things around it to look on the ground, when my eyes fell on the little spring.
What on earth.
Seriously, the idea that the God of the universe would see fit to help me - a prideful, imperfect, petty little human? It brings me to tears. It did that day, it did on Sunday as I sang praises to the Worthy Lamb who was slain to pay the penalty for my sins. It does now, as I realize that when I laid the desire of my heart on his altar, God graciously accepted it, dusted it off, and gave it right back to me.
For whatever reason, for no reason that I or my husband deserve, God wanted to show us that he loves us. That he cares for a lost spring. And if he cares for a tiny bike part, if he can help me in a pretty crazy-miraculous way find that spring, that same truth holds for the bigger things, the times when I don’t see the answer to my prayers come in the way I’d like.
I think our crazy prayer adventures do more than just teach us lessons about God and ourselves. I think they were meant to serve as building blocks - like individual bricks building on the foundation of the truths of what we know about God. Experiences that reinforce our love for him, and his love for us. Ebenezer stones that stand the test of time and space and prayers that seem to go unheard or unanswered. Because we can remember these times when God does something that only God could have done and stand on that Ebenezer stone when chaos is swirling around us.
I told my husband my story and ended with, “So here it is - God loves you!”
I think he felt loved.
Can I tell you something funny? I found the spring just as my husband had finished putting the old spring back on his bike. The new spring is still sitting right where I found it, kind of a miniature monument to God’s faithfulness and love. I wonder if it will do more good there than it ever would have done on the bike? I don’t know how long it will stay there, but I picture my husband walking past it as he goes from project to project in our garage, each time remembering when God answered a prayer that seemed really trivial in a way that expressed his love in a very profound way.
When was your last prayer adventure? Your next one may be just around the corner. Keep your eyes open!