My wife, Beth, and I work in the nonprofit, political world. It’s how we met, it’s what we know and for many years we loved doing what we do.
While she has now moved on to full-time ministry work at our church, she still ends up doing work for at least three of our organizations (but don’t remind her).
And now, I seem to be moving away from the political world as well, spending more and more time writing for Christian organizations, spending more and more time at church, volunteering, working in children’s ministry and even giving my testimony.
For a number of reasons, politics has lost its luster for us both. And you have to understand, politics is all we’ve ever done.
Now, as we appear to be moving towards using our abilities for a much higher calling, I often think back to the times, not so long ago, when our political nonprofits consumed us day and night.
And especially to one time in particular, in the middle of a hectic and nerve-wracking time for us, when we took to our knees in prayer and asked for a miracle.
And what do you know, He answered and He provided.
I think back to that time often, and asked my wife to write down some thoughts for me to help me write this article.
Of course, not one to do anything halfway, she wrote the following, which is as good, or better, than I would have done. Besides, I am lazy, or “work smart.” Why rewrite what I believe is a very well-done article on answered prayers and bad attitudes?
So, what follows is my wife’s write up. I think she encapsulated her, and my, thoughts during this time, and especially regarding His answer to our prayers, and our response:
A few years ago, along with four co-workers who we are blessed to also call dear friends, we launched two new nonprofits.
Launching a nonprofit and keeping it sustainable isn’t an easy task, it requires long hours and minimal, or sometimes no pay.
I was in prayer often in those days. Asking the Lord to just give me a sign, a light at the end of the tunnel, just something that showed me we were doing the right thing and that if we weren’t doing the right thing that He would bop one of us over the head.
Alas, no such sign came. For months and years.
I prayed every morning and every night that He would just show us the way and He remained silent. Very silent.
There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heavens.
Until one day in particular.
You’ll need a little history on my professional life for this story to make sense. I’ll be brief, I promise.
Many moons ago as a wide-eyed Political Science major I was convinced my lot in life was to become a United States Senator. Yes sir, I was going to run for Senate and change the world.
Over 15 years later I can say that while I still do work in politics (both nonprofit and campaign work) my desire to run for Senate faded quickly once I got to DC.
Now, in addition to my full-time ministry job, I handle the day to day operations and the bookkeeping for two nonprofits and two political action committees. Yup, the girl who despised math in every form made a career out of doing math every single day of her life.
I did other things such as event planning, fundraising and database management but most of my work for these groups was running numbers, and filling out financial reports.
Strange how the Lord puts us in roles we’d least expect; but He clearly knew what He was doing because I really loved what I was doing.
One day in particular a few years ago, things were bad. Really bad.
As I estimated payroll, paid vendors and banged numbers into a calculator until I was convinced smoke was coming out of it, I started to get that sinking feeling that we just weren’t going to make this work.
I showed John the numbers and told him I didn’t think we’d make this next payroll.
I was going to have to tell co-workers that we just couldn’t make it work. These are people with families, mortgages, college loans, car payments.
My heart was heavy and it hurt.
I knew one of our co-workers had an opportunity to turn this dismal situation around but it wasn’t guaranteed. He was visiting with a very large donor and there was at least an outside chance that donor would give to our plan.
But, in fundraising, nothing is guaranteed.
So I bowed my head and just said “Lord, I’ve been praying a long time about this and You’ve been pretty silent. My heart is open to whatever Your will may be but if it is to have these groups continue, I really need to see a light at the end of this dark tunnel because I don’t think I can make the numbers work. Lord, if the work we’re doing isn’t Your will today is the day to let me know so that I can meet with these people in time for them to try and find another source of income.”
It wasn’t a long prayer or a prayer that was really in-depth or filled with big words. It was a quick prayer that was from the heart and it was raw. I wasn’t demanding anything of our Lord and Savior I was just asking that He guide me in the best way to handle this situation, especially because so many people and their families were going to be affected.
I decided to go for a run to keep my mind off things for a bit as there was nothing I could do at that time to fix anything.
I was about 30 minutes into my run when my phone glowed that I had an email. Well, I had MANY emails (which is not unusual for a Thursday) but my eyes went straight to the one I’d been waiting for.
I quickly grabbed my phone, scrolled to that email and read it.
My prayers had been answered.
In less than an hour, He had sent me the sign I was asking for and it was a favorable sign. We could move forward with the good work we’re doing. He wanted us to continue. I didn’t have to tell people we were closing our doors.
What an amazing moment.
Or so you would think…
It was the answer I desperately wanted.
But I scoffed at it.
I actually got mad. I sighed heavily. I was in the middle of a run so heavy breathing is normal but I let out an audible sigh.
You see, He did answer my prayers but it came with a caveat. It came with a condition I didn’t really like and wasn’t exactly how I wanted my prayers answered.
We were going to get the funding we so desperately needed, but it had to go through a review process. It had to be approved by someone that I was used to working with and they were notorious for being slow with the approval process. They were also notorious for being difficult to work with and could definitely nix this whole thing if they felt like it.
How quick I was to judge! And to judge a prayer answered by God all because it wasn’t the way I wanted it answered!
I didn’t like that someone had to approve the funding before we could receive it.
I didn’t like that the person approving the funding was someone I didn’t always work well with because I thought that might hinder the process.
What was I thinking? The Lord answered my prayers! And, He answered them in His way, according to His plan.
Honestly, I wasn’t thinking. It was a gut reaction and the Lord knew I was going to have that reaction. He also knew that not long after that, once I’d cleared my head, I was going to sit down and ask Him for forgiveness for my inappropriate reaction and thank Him for this amazing blessing He gave me and for this answer to prayer.
I’m human, just like you, and we often, some of us more often than we’d like to admit, have it very planned out in our heads how we want Him to answer our prayers and what the best way is for this plan to unfold. So, when it doesn’t happen exactly as we want it to we tend to have a reaction that is less than stellar.
But what we need to remember is that His ways are better than ours, His plans are greater than ours and are perfect for our lives.
For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.
Maybe it doesn’t always seem that way but He is always making things work together for good.
Next time you’re ready to have that “not so good” reaction to something that is truly a blessing, step back and think about how He has answered your prayer. It may not be exactly how you wanted it answered but there is always a reason for everything He does.
But truly God has listened; He has attended to the voice of my prayer. Psalm 66:19