Mysteries: heard and known
A woman named Darlene has come into Chick-fil-A every week or so for the past two months. She has thin, fluffy white hair, and only a couple of teeth, and every time I see her she tells me that she just got a new phone number, which is probably the reason she hasn't received a call about her application.
Knowing that her application has already been reviewed and rejected, I try to communicate this in the gentlest way possible, explaining that we would have already contacted her if we had a position available. She clings to hope and insists that her unreachable old number is the only complication in the situation, and so I hand her a sticky note to write down her new number, promising to pass it along to the hiring director.
When this situation last occurred--a few days ago--there was a bit more desperation than usual. Darlene needs this job.
She isn't going to get it.
As she left, her name and number scrawled on the sticky note in my hand, I thought about how the Lord clothes the flowers of the field, sees the cattle on a thousand hills and each sparrow sold for pennies, and knows the stars in the sky by name. I know that He sees and hears my prayers, because He tells me in His Word that He does. I've seen Him answer them. He has provided for me, even in little ways that--apart from serving as a reminder that the Lord does hear and know every desire, both the godly and the superficial--seem unnecessary.
On the first Monday morning in December, six years ago, my mom suggested that we order pizza for lunch. She was eight-and-a-half months pregnant and absolutely exhausted. The pregnancy had been a complicated one, money was tight, and stress levels were high.
These days we have Jack's Pizzeria's number memorized, but in those days we didn't, and so we dug around for the menu. It took us an unusually long time to come up with the menu, and an even longer amount of time to decide on toppings.
Finally, after at least twenty minutes, someone picked up the phone to order. Before they could punch in the number, the doorbell rang. At the door was a pizza delivery guy with two pizzas.
"We didn't order pizzas," we said, confused.
"Well, they're for you," the delivery guy said, handing them over. "I'm supposed to tell you that they're a blessing from the Lord."
My mom cried and the rest of us accepted this with gladness and without argument.
For some reason this story of God's provision came to mind after talking with Darlene. I want her to have a job. I wondered if the Lord sees Darlene, if He knows that she needs a job, and if He cares. He has provided me with jobs and opportunities and friendships and pizza--pizza, of all things--before I even knew to ask for any of them.
God's mercy and judgment in every dealing is equally righteous and perfect in both of our lives, but I have somehow seen His goodness so clearly, many times. I don't know if she has, and besides the day that all knees bend before the throne, I don't know if she will.
The day after the pizza provision, my little unborn sister, perfectly formed for the number of days determined for her by her Heavenly Father, slipped into the next world before ever really entering this one.
In the grief and misery that followed, I wondered--not in anger, but in confusion--why the Lord would give us pizza that we didn't even ask for, but ignore the months of prayers for this baby's healing. Why would He increase our faith in one small circumstance, demonstrating that He can hear and does know us, and then taunt us with His decision not to act in the way that seems best?
But these are the mysteries of God's sovereignty and of His perfect will. I am not always called to understand and explain. I am called simply to trust, and rejoice in the kindness and graciousness he has shown to me, and walk faithfully and obediently in accordance with His Word. God is in the heavens, He does what He pleases--and while this might not always be in accordance with my sense of logic, His purposes are being established. His actions are in perfect accordance with His wisdom. He knows Darlene's needs on a far broader scale than I do.
Many recent experiences have reminded me that the Lord is active not only in my own life, but in each individual life around me, shaping and molding us all for His purposes. We have needs. He sees them and knows them and He always acts in the way that is best. I hope and pray, that for all my life I will be desperate not only for the Lord's provision (my flesh will pass away anyways), but for the Lord Himself.