Welcome to our Remember series, where we pause to reflect on how God has proven faithful in the past so to help us place our trust in Him in the present. We look to the future, knowing that God always keeps His promise and that He always makes a way. We invite you to pray with us, to write your own Psalm (see the end of the post!), and share with others about how God has been faithful in your life.
After I finished preparing for a career in social work during college, I was invited to consider serving for a year as a volunteer in a social service agency as a part of a year-long volunteer program. Obviously, a decision like this had big financial implications. While my “yes” didn’t make sense to my parents, or on paper, it was the thing at that time that I couldn’t not do.
Although in my bones and in my prayer I felt like this was the right decision for me, the financial impact was real as a newly-minted college grad with student debt. While I was able to put my loans into deferment, money was sure to be tight as a participant in this program.
Looking for affirmation that I was making the right call, I prayed for some kind of sign that I was on the right track. I echoed the plea from my favorite Thomas Merton prayer:
My Lord God, I have no idea where I am going…but I believe the desire to please you does in fact please you.
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I had heard—as I am sure you have—about dramatic responses to prayer. Sure signs, impossible to ignore. Roses a la Saint Therese. Receiving the perfectly-timed letter in the mail. The providential chapter of a book or conversation in spiritual direction. That did (and still does) appeal to me, but none of those responses are what I received at that time.
What I did receive was my tax return for the year as a student employee: one hundred and fourteen dollars in a legal envelope. Not particularly exciting, except that it was exactly the same amount as the flight I had been looking at to get to my service program!
My answered prayer didn’t arrive with fireworks and fanfare. What it offered was quiet confidence in my decision to spend a year in service, and God’s provision to do so. It was direct, simple, and tangible. There was no need for further wrestling. This is how I asked God to respond to me: with clarity.
In the grand scheme of things, this small answered prayer was not meant to convey God’s greatness to the masses, but it was a moment I was assured of having been seen and heard in even my small needs. Likely there are countless examples just like this, strewn across my days.
Maybe you have also asked the Lord for something in prayer and hoped for a “powerful wind” in response? Especially because we know and believe God to be all loving and all powerful, big replies are welcomed. From time to time, we are reminded that God’s loving, no-less-clarifying response is in the “gentle whisper” instead.
The LORD said, “Go out and stand on the mountain in the presence of the LORD, for the LORD is about to pass by.” Then a great and powerful wind tore the mountains apart and shattered the rocks before the LORD, but the LORD was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the LORD was not in the earthquake. After the earthquake came a fire, but the LORD was not in the fire. And after the fire came a gentle whisper. // I Kings 19:12
If you would like, we invite you to write your own psalm to help you remember the marvelous works of the Lord. We walk you through it here. Keep this psalm handy. Pray it when life makes it difficult to see Who reigns sovereignly.
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