I remember the conversation well – the night I bartered with the Lord in my prayers. I was a “baby” Christian and my relationship with the Lord was new. I was distraught and could only see one way out of the hole I was in. The picture and needed outcomes were so vivid. It was the ONLY option- one clear path for accomplishing the goals I had in mind.
So, I presented to the Lord an “if, then” plea. “Lord, if you will make this happen, then I will be the best mother ever.” I laid the argument out before Him with all my thoughts, ideas, and plans. I had it all figured out and my argument was solid…
At the end of the next few days, I was dealt a crushing blow. The very thing I wanted and needed was denied. There were so many thoughts, feelings, and emotions wrapped up in that verdict. Where did I go wrong? Was I convincing enough to the jury? To the Lord? Was this truly in the “best interest of the children?” Am I really a bad person? A bad mother?
The jury trial that determined where my children would live was one of the most challenging experiences I had ever walked through. I didn’t see how I was going to continue to live without my children close by and in my home daily. Didn’t the Lord accept my barter? Didn’t He see and know that this was the only way? What I didn’t know at the time is that He had a better way. What transpired in the next five years was His best answer to my “bartering” prayer.
You see, I wanted something, but I didn’t really want to do what the Lord was asking me to do. You could say that I was a lot like Jonah. It was hard, unfair, and frankly, very uncomfortable. I was bartering with the Lord. I spent months trying to “undo” what had been done and wrestling with the Lord, attempting to avoid all the things the Lord was asking me to do and be. I did not want to go or be in “Nineveh.”
But during those five years, I came to truly experience ALL of the Lord. He was so many things to me in so many moments and, sometimes, all at once. In the quietest and loneliest of moments, He was my comforter, my provider, my counselor, my friend, my banner, my sound mind. With every passing day that I could not control, He drew me in and showed me the way – His way.
The Lord absolutely heard my “bartering”. He absolutely answered all my prayers and gave me the desires of my heart. It just wasn’t in the ways and timing I had “bartered” with Him for that one night.
When I look back now on those five years of the journey to Nineveh, I am in awe. It draws me to me of a quote from the Lemony Snicket movie “A Series of Unfortunate Events”-
“At times the world may seem an unfriendly and sinister place, but believe that there is much more good in it than bad. All you have to do is look hard enough. and what might seem to be a series of unfortunate events may in fact be the first steps of a journey.”
What a journey that was with the Lord! It’s very difficult to say I would do it all again, but I would. I still am on journeys with the Lord every day. Those years taught me that my faith isn’t in what I can see, but in everything I can’t see. It isn’t built on the hopes I have for a certain outcome but the hope I have in Him. He does what He says He will do so there’s no place for bartering with Him.
“Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.”