In that last entry I posted, I talked about many of my childhood prayers being answered. I received some comments on that particular story that made me re-evaluate what I was saying. At least two of my readers mentioned in passing that they did not receive the pony they prayed for as a child; they are still waiting.
Well folks, that left me speechless. I assure you that my prayers were not answered because I was such a good, "religious" child. Or because I prayed such a flowery, well-worded prayer. I was a pretty bratty child, my main problem being my mouth: I sassed my mother a lot, and sometimes threw fits on her when she asked me to do something. By the time I was 13, I even went so far as to use those words no parent wants to hear out of her child: "I hate you."
Guess what? I'm willing to admit those answered prayers might have all been random, for the simple reason there is no proving it was God. I believe it was Him, but I won't try to make you believe the same as I do.
My mother deserved a medal for not killing me. Daddy just sort of stayed on the sidelines, he told me later, because of his temper. He was afraid if he entered into the ruckus at all, he would hurt me. So my poor mother was the enforcer, grabbing whatever was handy to paddle my behind.
I'm just keeping it real here. I believe God is present around me, but it's an unfair world. I understand why some folks don't believe. So much of life is random. You can be driving down a freeway and get hit by a stray bullet. Innocent babies get cancer and die. Someone you trust turns out not to be trustworthy. I have read the atheist point of view and even understand why they reject a higher power, but I personally choose to believe; yes, I make that choice. I may not believe exactly the way you do, but I believe in God. I love Jesus. Cliff tells me I'm that way because it's all I knew as a child.
Cliff and I are finally old enough to tolerate one another's very different beliefs, and we can be honest with one another and discuss things calmly.
I'm reading a short non-fiction book called "Everything Happens for a Reason". A woman who is a teacher at Duke University and has made a project out of studying the prosperity gospel for years gets stage IV colon cancer. She writes about all those things people tell her to "cheer her up". At one point she mentions how often they throw the words "at least" into a conversation about her cancer. As I read it I remembered saying, "At least it isn't your right arm" to my daughter when she had to take desperate measures to relieve the lymphedema in her left arm; lymphedema is one of the "gifts" breast cancer left in its wake.
As I read this book, I wonder if I am better off not saying anything to a cancer patient ever again, since I'm famous for opening my mouth and inserting my big foot.
So, my dear readers. If my most important prayers were heard, the ones that seemed to have shaped how my life turned out, don't you ever think it was because I feel I am special in any way, or that God loves me more than He does you. I will now tell you something that I also believe: This world is pretty random. Good and bad things befall us, and sometimes it's just the nature of the universe. Yes, I do believe that both good and bad things can be "just random". Miracles are few and far between. You might just have to settle for the feeling of God's presence, guidance, and love as you walk through the fire.
I've always liked the idea of positive thinking. I've tried to be a positive person most of the time. But I'm not in with the "name-it-and-claim-it" group. You won't find me running around saying, "I am rich" as a way of making God pour money into my life. I don't know how anyone can be a Jesus-follower and forget the fact that Jesus didn't even have His own house when He walked the earth, and his apostles were mostly destitute, hungry, tired, and mistreated. Why are we any better?
I say all that simply to get to this point: If I were in charge of the universe, I would make sure every little girl finally got her pony at the proper time, right after she found her Prince Charming. I would see to it that no innocent child ever had to suffer. I would eradicate cancer. Oh, and I would make sure no mother would have to raise a little reprobate like me, who wouldn't behave.
And the world would be in a worse mess than it is now, because the natural order of things would be upset. What I do wish for all my readers is peace of mind, whatever it takes to get that... as long as your method isn't killing you. I want you to hang onto your precious life as long as you can, and I want everyone to find happiness in this messed-up but oh, so beautiful world.
This morning my heartfelt prayer is that you, my readers, will have a good day that brings you many reasons to smile. Today is all we have.