Monthly Archives: November 2015

A Hamster in my Hand

We have a hamster who, to be truthful, I did not want. Despite my objections and resistance to its invasion of our home, over time the little guy turned from rodent to pet in my heart. And because, of course, the agreement that the kids would take care of this hamster (Stan) has long since evaporated, I make sure on a daily basis that the little guy doesn’t starve to death. The result has been that I have earned the exclusive right of having him crawl into my hand and cozy up for a little scratch, tucking his bitty nose underneath my thumb, and sometimes even taking a little snooze. Over time, he learned that my hand is a safe hand; he learned to recognize and trust me.

What strikes me every time little Stan is in my hand, is that he has no possible concept of who and what I am. Even if his eyesight weren’t naturally dreadful, he could not possibly take in my full scale just by shear proportion. It would be like standing on an outcrop during an ascension of Mount Kilimanjaro and trying to take in the whole mountain. Stan can’t see me, he can’t possibly understand me with his definitively small brain, but he trusts me. He knows my smell, he knows my touch, and he knows I will keep him safe, warm, fed, and comfortable through life’s hamster challenges.

But isn’t this just a reflection of us sitting in God’s hand?

Aren’t we in the exact same position in our ability to comprehend who and what God is?

hands holding the sun at dawn

Sing it with me: “He’s got the whole world in His hands…” This isn’t just a childhood song. It’s a fundamental truth. You are sitting in God’s hand, whether you recognize it or not. He is way too big for us to see. Way too complex for us to understand. Way too magnificent for us to behold with our five senses. But unlike the hamster, we use our decisively large brains to conclude, therefore, that he doesn’t exist.

And so we strive in our own effort.

And we falter without seeking His support.

And we toil through the days feeling an emptiness, and a burden for life’s outcome.

What if today, we decided to be more like Stan? What if we chose to believe there is a great Caregiver who loves us and will keep us safe, healthy, strong, comfortable, warm, peaceful, joyful, if only we allow Him? If only we believe? If only we take the time to understand Him outside our five senses; to learn to recognize His presence and how He wants to relate to us?

To acquire the discernment of what is God’s hand, and what is not, is life’s foremost goal. When we do, we develop clarity for separating out those things that do not keep us safe, healthy, strong, comfortable, warm, peaceful, joyful. With awareness of His presence, we learn to know His hand and trust that we are firmly in it. And that He will meet our needs for life’s challenges.

I invite you today, to allow your beautifully large and complex brain to expand beyond the boundaries of its five senses and open up a window of trust to the God you cannot fully see or understand. Remember, if Stan could control me, I would not be his caregiver. And if you could control God, by being able to fully document and describe Him, He would not be your Caregiver. Spend some time today, alone, tucking your nose under His thumb, and allowing Him to help you know and trust Him. He’s got you in His hand.

What Does Answered Prayer Look Like?

My daughter attends a charter school downtown that I drive her to and pick her up from every day. Yesterday, I did some grocery shopping, then headed straight to the school to pick her up even though I was going to be forty minutes early. Since I was so early, I shut the car off after getting into the carpool line and kicked on my Kindle. Forty minutes later, as kids starting pouring out of the school, I cranked the car and… nothing. Not even a flicker of power, other than the orange CHECK ENGINE light glaring at me… the “your car is so dead” light.

As I searched for the roadside assistance card, started making phone calls, and texted my husband who was just about to board a flight to Texas, the chaos of kids running down the sidewalk and cars careening around me died off. My daughter and I were suddenly surrounded by the eeriness of a quiet school ground… in downtown… with boarded up houses across the street. It was going to take an hour and 15 minutes for the tow truck to arrive.

Empty School

“Dear Jesus, please keep up safe…” the prayers went up.

Within 5 minutes a police officer pulled up in the carpool line right behind me, followed by a second and a third patrol car. Within ten minutes, four officers had apprehended and handcuffed a man, put him in the third patrol car and drove him away. The first and second patrol cars however, remained onsite, right behind me, in the carpool line… for the next hour. The first patrol car pulled away from the line directly behind the tow truck as it pulled into the line – quite literally, he followed the tow truck through the line and passed him by as the truck pulled over to help me.

This is amazing grace.

But let’s be real about this. This is clearly amazing grace by the way I told the story. How many of us, when we see a police officer roll up behind us, say to ourselves, “Praise God. Help is here!” Possibly my first reaction to the scene was not to see God’s grace at all? But to say, “Oh crap,”? To start plotting what I would say to the officer when s/he knocked on my window? To start explaining why I was loitering on a school ground? I actually almost completely missed the grace. Once I had the relief that the officer was not there for me, I put the whole thing behind me. But then it struck me; this WAS God’s answer to my prayer.

Are there places in your life where you have missed God’s answer to your prayer?

I invite you today to take stock of your prayers and the recent events of your life. See if you can map them together; see if you can identify something that felt like a problem, annoyance, frustration, as actually an answer to a prayer. I’m learning more and more how to let go of my vision of what answered prayer looks like and see the ways that Jesus is actually answering them. I hope you will find yourself shocked, as I was, that the answer is right in front of you.