Today is Wednesday of spring break.
And Wednesday of spring break always makes me an emotional train wreck.
You see, it was the Wednesday of spring break 2002 when I went in to have what remained of a failed pregnancy removed. There were daffodils just starting to bloom outside my window that morning and I remember thinking maybe they were a sign of hope. Even though hope seemed far removed.
The sadness overwhelmed me after my pregnancy ended. Turns out it was what’s called a molar pregnancy. Sometimes these anomalies can turn cancerous, so my doctor wanted me to wait a full year before attempting to get pregnant again.
My plan was ruined.
Things got even worse. The year 2002 was one of loss and heartbreak.
- First, I lost a pregnancy.
- Then I lost my grandfather.
- We lost a beloved music minister.
- My husband got laid off.
But what hurt most was that miscarriage. And not being able to turn around and try again for another baby right away.
I had to wait.
The majority of that year was spent in deep anguish and grief. I remember thinking month after month, “If I can just make it to 2003, I’ll be okay.” Because every day I would wake up and wonder if it was possible to make it. 2002 was killing me.
Coping with grief the best I could, somehow I muddled through.
Finally, 2003 dawned and it was a new year, full of possibility and hope.
In March of that year when I got the all-clear, we buckled down and started trying in earnest to make another baby. I tracked my cycle and my temperature and we timed everything just right. And yet for months, no luck. No pregnancy.
I kept pleading with God, reminding him I was 34 already, that I would be 35 before I could possibly deliver another baby, that I had always wanted three kids and how was I ever going to have enough time? I tried to pray “not my will, but thine.” I asked God to help me accept having only one child if that was His will.
But my heart was breaking.
Then one day I had a conversation with my father-in-law. He told me how when he was a teenager he had asked God to give him three children–a girl and two boys. And God had answered his prayer in exactly that way.
I thought it was a silly idea. God isn’t like a cafeteria where you go down the line and pick out what you’ll get: “Chicken fried steak, please, with a side of mashed potatoes and green beans.”
I rolled my eyes at the very notion.
But I was desperate. So very desperate.
The more I thought about it, the more I decided I could go ahead and ask God, right? Nobody had to know. The worst thing that could happen would be for Him to say no. So I buckled down, got on my knees and prayed, asking God to give me two more children, another boy and a girl.
I made myself vulnerable to God, revealing my deepest sadness, my heart’s desire, and letting go of the pride that told me not to bother God with such a ridiculous request.
I didn’t expect much.
The God of Surprises
So imagine my surprise when a few weeks later I found out I was pregnant. Ecstatic and terrified at the same time, I called my OB-gyn and requested a sonogram. . . just to make sure.
We went in the following Monday. My heart was fluttery, I was anxious, and I’m not sure how I was able to breathe at all. I just wanted to know this really was a baby and that he or she was okay. I was on the brink of tears.
Once we settled in, the technician began the sonogram. “Let’s see what we’ve got here,” she said. She looked at the screen for a moment, then, turning to Eric, she asked, “See that? We’ve got two sacs here. Do you know what that means?”
Eric was clueless. But I knew exactly what it meant and the tears started pouring down the sides of my face.
“It means twins,” she said.
“Are they okay?” I asked, sobbing.
“They are,” she answered with a smile, and then she began measuring. We saw and heard their little heartbeats. Two babies, side by side. Two tiny embryos.
It was the beginning of my twin pregnancy. But not the end of the story.
Because you see, on the Wednesday of spring break 2004, almost exactly two years after that heart-wrenching daffodil day, I delivered two healthy babies. First a six-pound boy, then a seven and a half pound girl.
Exactly what I had prayed for. And even in the same order.
Those precious babies turn 12 tomorrow. I’m still amazed.
Prayer is not a vending machine.
Now I do want to be crystal clear here.
Never would I imply that we can expect God to give us exactly what we pray for. I still don’t believe prayer is like a vending machine.
I know people who have prayed for years — for children, for a spouse, for physical healing, for reconciliation, for all kinds of worthy requests — and God hasn’t given them specifically what they asked for.
You also need to know that I am one of those people. There are many, many instances of when I’ve pleaded with God for something repeatedly and, for reasons beyond my understanding, he has simply said “no.”
So please don’t misread my words. I am not and will never say that God is withholding blessings or answers to prayers because you haven’t prayed hard or long enough. That’s false theology, and it simply isn’t true.
But here’s the point of my story: it doesn’t hurt to ask.
Up until that day in 2003 when I prayed and told God exactly what was on my heart, even though it seemed selfish to me, I had never specifically asked. I assumed God knew what I wanted — and he did — but I had never gone to the trouble of actually asking for it. I’d never let go of my pride long enough to turn the situation over completely to God.
It never hurts to ask.
God might say no. He might say “not yet.” He might say, “I’ve got a different idea in mind for you.” He might even be silent while He works on your heart in the loneliness.
But if you don’t ask, you’ll never know.
The very worst that can happen is for you to enter the throne room of God and reveal your dependence upon him. And then not get what you ask for. But you’ve still been in the presence of God and drawn closer to him in the process.
And there’s always the possibility he just might say yes–and surprise you in ways you never believed possible.
What are you afraid to ask God for? Will you ask him today? Will you pour your heart out to him? Don’t be ashamed to approach him with your deepest desires. He wants to hear from you.
Photo credit: Not your typical vending machine via photopin (license)