I am traveling through the south of Florida at the moment, having spent the weekend in Miami, and now headed up to the Sarasota/Tampa area for the weekend. Yesterday, I had an amazing lunch conversation reconnecting with someone I’d visited several years ago. He’d come here to plant house churches and ended up discovering that the church was more wild and wonderful than that could contain as well. He, too, is learning that life moves at the speed of relationships.
While we were eating, I sat facing the wall pictured above. We were in a restaurant called Ford’s Garage that commemorates the life of Henry Ford, who had a summer home near here, which just happened to be right next door to a summer home for Thomas Edison. Can you imagine the conversations they must have had together? Oh, to have been a fly on that wall…
Anyway, I was taken with this quote of Henry Ford’s: “If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses.” He had dreamed up something so much better, what people didn’t even know they wanted, and his automobile has taken over the world.
I wonder how many of our prayers sound like that to God. We are asking him for the thing we think we want when he has things in mind for us that are more wonderful than we can even conceive. Most of my prayers used to ask God to do things that would make me comfortable or happy, and he had things in mind that would radically change the way I think and live in the world. I’m so glad God did not answer most of my prayers the way I wanted him to. His ideas have proved to be so much better and higher than mine.
It made me think of my favorite line from the movie, Bruce Almighty. “Since when does anyone have a clue about what they want?” So true! We think we do, but then God works in other ways.
I’ve long thought that’s what Ephesians 3:20 is talking about. “Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever! Amen.”
It doesn’t mean if I’m asking him for a three-bedroom house, he wants to give me a five-bedroom one. It merely means that what we want now is rarely what we would really want if we could see our lives through God’s eyes. We want comfort, ease, and a pain-free existence, he wants to invite us into the adventure of a lifetime that transcends all of those things to embrace his reality in a way that changes how we live in a broken world.
As I’ve continued on this journey, I am much more aware that what I thought I wanted wasn’t what I really wanted. Almost twenty years ago, I found myself saying to a friend, “Over the past few years, God has defied to the nth degree every expectation and desire I had for my life.”
“Is that a good thing?” he asked me.
I found myself answering, “It’s the best thing!” And it has been, though it often takes the added perspective of two or three years to pass so I can look back and see that what he was doing was far better than what I had in mind. It has led me on a path to The Deepest Freedom—freedom from the tyranny of my own best wisdom or my desires.
I’m glad that Jesus said the Father knows what we need even before we ask him. I’m relieved by that because I’m sure many of my prayers don’t make much sense to him. Now, if we could just relax and trust that in the present, we would be so much more at peace.