Though the Lord gave you adversity for food
and suffering for drink,
he will still be with you to teach you.
You will see your teacher with your own eyes.
Your own ears will hear him.
Right behind you a voice will say,
“This is the way you should go,”
whether to the right or to the left.
(Isaiah 30:21.22 NLT)
“3-2” doesn’t mean much when it’s just an answer floating around in the air, unattached to a question.
But in this part of the world, where annual general meetings, and weddings (or even funerals) are not given a spot on the calendar until the hockey schedule is checked, “3-2” is a great response to a question. The question? What was the final score for the Canada/USA women’s hockey game? I tell you there was so much hootin’ and hollerin’ going on around here this week that if my Grandma was still alive she would have been fixin’ to go to the revival because it sounded like a whole bunch of folks just got saved. (And apparently a last-minute “salvation” of sorts did show up at that game.)
I expect more than a few Canadian hockey fans will pull themselves out from under down-filled comforters at 4:45 A.M. to watch the men’s finals in the morning. Personally I don’t get it. I’d much rather sleep, but hockey is a big deal here. It’s like football in Europe and the rivalry with the much more populated country to the south is a little silly, but it’s part of our overlooked little brother (or little sister) identity, so there you go.
It’s questions that give answers value. Many believers sit in pews being fed a mountain of answers that have as much bearing on our lives as a detached “3-2”. Sometimes God allows adversity and frustrating circumstances to show up because he has the answer ready for us. He’s just waiting for us to recognize its value. He’s waiting for the question.
I read my journal from last December that I found whilst re-organizing my home office this week. It was full of answers without questions. Some of them were verses of scripture that stood out as if written in neon lights. Some of them were “pay attention” concepts repeated in books or blogs or podcasts or in song lyrics over several days. Some of them were ideas that came “out of the blue” as I prayed or walked in the woods thinking about something entirely different. I knew they were important, but I didn’t know why, so I wrote them down in my journal -and filed it someplace safe amongst my shelves of books -where I wouldn’t notice it for a year. But when I did go back and read it, I was amazed at how accurate those entries were.
One of the answers was very specific. I dreamed a Jesus-loving friend who lives in difficult circumstances in a third world country, came to me with a message that I would have many storms ahead in the next year, but that Jesus would be in the storm with me and would see me through. He was giving me the tools in advance.
I just didn’t appreciate them at the time. It was (metaphorically speaking) like getting a bus ticket to Bien Fait (pronounced Bean Fate by Les Anglais) when I had no intention of going to Saskatchewan. Later when I found myself somewhere around Moose Jaw (still being metaphorical here) in a horrendous storm, I prayed (begging and crying and pleading) for a train ride or covered wagon ride -or anything that could get me through the onslaught. Then a kind of spiritual bus stopped and I finally found the soggy ticket in my pocket. He did get me through.
I wrote to someone the other day, asking for advice on how to handle a problem. He answered by asking (nicely) if I ever actually read the stuff I write, because the answer was already there in my email, and repeated in a blog. I looked again, and realized he was right. It was right there.
God doesn’t always give us the answers ahead of time because he knows some of us have a tendency to belittle them, thinking them either illogical or too challenging. Like a good teacher he waits until we try all the solutions that don’t work first, the ones that cause us to become frustrated and hopeless enough to ask a better question than “Why me?” He waits for a question that connects with the answer and makes us realize His solution takes into account unanticipated last-minute changes. His ways are brilliant and worth hootin’ and hollerin’ over when we participate in the victory. He’s just that good.
So the Lord must wait for you to come to him
so he can show you his love and compassion.
For the Lord is a faithful God.
Blessed are those who wait for his help.
O people of Zion, who live in Jerusalem,
you will weep no more.
He will be gracious if you ask for help.
He will surely respond to the sound of your cries.
(Isaiah 30:18, 19)
He rescues and saves and sets us up to score.