“….if you have faith.” Jesus (H, T)
Pretty soon I will be able to introduce you to a little girl named Mahider, who currently lives in an orphanage in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. Before long, God willing, she will be living at 1336 Cherokee St in Wynne, AR with ‘Pearson’ as her last name. God has been good to us and has immediately united my heart to hers. My eyes are welling up with tears (again!) as I type these words.
She is an answer to many prayers over the past two years since God first called Katie and I to adopt internationally through a message given by David Platt during WBC’s Global Impact Conference in 2009.
But seeing her picture this week is a direct answer to a prayer I prayed Sunday night per the request of my oldest son, Luke. Two Sundays ago now (August 7th, 2011) Luke asked that we (the Pearson family) pray that God would allow us to see a picture (get a referral) of Baby E (what we called Mahider before we knew who she was) the upcoming week. So I did. A week went by and nothing happened. This past Sunday (August 14th, 2011) Katie reminded me of the conversation and the prayer and she encouraged me to talk with Luke and Seth (our youngest son) about why God didn’t allow us to see a picture of ‘Baby E’ this week. In other words, I had to give the “sometimes God says, ‘wait'” speech. Unfazed by it, Luke proceeded to ask if we could pray that we see a picture of ‘Baby E’ this week. I said “sure,” and prayed something like this: “Father, please allow us to see a picture of ‘Baby E’ this week…but if not, we trust that You know what is best and we will follow You regardless.” As soon as the word ‘amen’ came out of my mouth, Luke immediately said, “Dad, please don’t say ‘but if not.'” In other words, “Dad, please don’t doubt that God can send us a picture of her this week.” Whoah. He got me. It’s as if he could smell that I was doubting that God could do it. The circumstances seemed improbable, if not impossible, that we get a referral this week. I knew that. Luke picked up on it and rebuked me for praying with that tone. I told him he was right. You know what? God showed us a picture of ‘Baby E’ Tuesday afternoon around 5 pm…less than 48 hours after Luke basically told me in his 6 year old way to “have faith and do not doubt.” God truly has been good to us.
Here’s the thing. I believe my prayer was ‘theologically correct.’ I really do. Sometimes God says wait. His ways are not our ways. He does not operate according to our agenda. But what was ‘theologically correct’ had become the order of the day for my heart instead of genuine, child-like trust that God could actually make the impossible possible. I prayed what I prayed and the way I prayed it because I really didn’t think we would get a referral this week. I was trying to protect myself and give God an ‘out’ if He didn’t come through…as if He couldn’t come through! There’s a word for the way I was praying: unbelief. The last time I checked, that doesn’t rank on God’s favorite things list. My 6-year old son could tell that his daddy didn’t really believe God could do it this week. My 6-year old son was right. God can do anything He wants and will do what He does for His glory and our joyful conformity to Christlikeness…everytime.
I don’t need to throw away the ‘but if not’ language from my prayers or my theology. But I do need to throw it out of my heart. It is wrong when I rely on having a ‘right’ theology more than I do the God of the universe who really is committed to doing the impossible for the good of His children and the glory of His name.
Jesus said in Matthew 21:21-22 – “Truly, I say to you, if you have faith and do not doubt…you say to this mountain, ‘Be taken up and thrown into the sea,’ it will happen. And whatever you ask in prayer, you will receive, if you have faith” (emphasis mine).
His brother said something similar: “But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind. For that person must not suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways” (James 1:6-8).
God brought a little girl into our lives this week. You will be hearing ALOT about her in the days to come. For now, please pray for her and us…and when you pray, believe.