When I was a young girl studying American history in school I remember wishing I could see the places of history I was studying about. I remember when we learned about the Liberty Bell in Philadelphia, Pa and wondering what it looked like and how big it was and if it really had that crack in it.
I remember wishing when I was a girl I could see the Statue of Liberty. I wished I could look up and see what color that blue really was and if the crown really had windows in it and if the torch really lit up.
I remember wishing when I was a girl I could see where the Boston Tea Party took place because it didn't make sense to me that a Tea Party could take place in water.
I remember wishing when I was a girl that I could ride the Staten Island Ferry into New York City and walk the streets of New York like I saw on TV.
I remember wishing those things, but I don't remember praying for those things.
Yet, I got my wish to all of the above.
Were my wishes really disguised prayers that God was listening to? Were my wishes seen by God as prayers of faith?
I don't know.
I don't understand how prayer works.
I don't understand how God answers prayers.
When I was a girl my prayers consisted of "please God, bless..." "Please God, help me pass this test." The prayers I prayed then did not have much substance or belief or relationship value attached to the one I was begging. The communication on my side of the fence was very limiting of God. I found more power in my wishes than in my prayers.
But I wonder now, did God see my wishes as prayers?
I don't know.
I do know that as I've grown older and gotten to know God not only as my Savior, but as my friend, I am getting glimpses of how interested he is in the smallest details of my heart's desires and I've learned to make my every wish into a prayer to Him.
Only He could have orchestrated the circumstances that caused me to see the wishes of my heart. I saw the crack in the Liberty Bell, I saw the harbor of Boston where the tea was dumped, I saw the color of Lady Liberty's dress and walked part way up to her crown. I rode the ferry multiple times and walked the streets of New York City and each time felt the thrill of having the privilege to do so.
I married a Navy guy and he managed to get me to all those places and many in-between while we pulled up roots every year or two for his career. The How of getting my wishes wasn't easy, but I got my wishes.
I believe God created the desire in me to see and experience those wishes of my youth because he already knew who I would marry, where marriage would take me and my husband and family. I believe my wishes were seeds planted by Him in my heart.
A few years ago I came across a verse that was one of THOSE verses. You know, the ones that shout loudly to you and make you a little or a lot uncomfortable and as quickly as you try to move past it and find one that speaks more softly and pleasantly to you, you can't quit hearing THAT verse.
But this one echoed.
And wouldn't let me rest.
Just fifteen words that kept ringing in my head, reminding me, cajoling me, coaxing me, persuading me to sit back and think hard about the words they were speaking to me.
Its ringing didn't let up until I finally gave up and said, "Ok! OK! I hear you. I hear what you're trying to tell me."
I kept wishing for things and experiences that were always an arm's length away from touching until this verse started invading my heart and my mind.
Delight yourself in me and I will give you the desires of your heart.
A relationship blossomed then bloomed. What once were wishes are now blanketed with, "I'd rather know you better than have any of my wishes come true."
I didn't make my heart desire Him. He did.
And He did so in unique ways tailored to my ears, my eyes, my heart, my senses.
There isn't a magic formula and a step by step program to follow. There isn't a creed to profess or a tradition to uphold that will bring you closer to him. Those things serve as good reminders of Him but can't fulfill the need for a personal viable relational delight in Him that bring us peace and fulfills our deepest desires. It's delighting in him. It's taking pleasure in Him, finding satisfaction in Him, feeling gratified by Him, finding joy in Him and Him alone.
He's made it possible for us to delight ourselves in Him. We can't do it on our own. We can only want to want to delight in him. He does the rest. When we give up our ideas of what is best or what we need or wish we had and surrender to what His purposes are for our lives, what He says is best for us (even the hard stuff), that's when we really have peace.
The chasing after the wind is stopped. Our wants become "what do you want for me?" Our difficulties and afflictions are faced with, "help me see you in this," instead of "why, me?"
I've said it before and I'll say it again, this path of faith is not easy. Leaning on the object of our faith, Jesus, instead of our fickle faith alone is what makes life doable. If we lean on our faith and not on the object of our faith, our faith will fail us when we it is weak. Our strong faith doesn't make our circumstances easier, it's our strong Jesus and leaning on Him that get us through. And our weak faith doesn't make Jesus weaker. (Thank God!)
Our faith sometimes can be as fickle as our feelings and sometimes we get them confused. Sometimes what we think is faith is really only our feelings. And sometimes our feelings are faith in action.
But Jesus, the object of our desires, is never weak, never fickle, never stronger one day more than the other. He is our heart's true desire. Our faith may weaken, but He never will.
Some of my wishes came true while I was holding him at arm's length, before I delighted in him. But looking back I see how he gave me what I wished for long before I knew they came from him. And all along the journey and in between the tourist sites, He taught me how to delight myself in him.