Last week I had the most extraordinary experience. It was one of those things that I missed in the moment, but upon reflection, I got it. Kind of like the disciples who met Jesus on the road to Emmaus and didn't even know it. Later that evening, they recognize Him in the breaking of bread. And then they say to one another, "Were not our hearts burning within us while he was talking to us on the road, . . .?"
A sweet young couple came to visit me. These two had been in my care as college students. The campus ministry where I served is where they met. It is where they fell in love. They married and began walking their life journey together from that shared sacred place, much like my husband and I did twenty years before. On this visit they brought their baby, my first opportunity to see her. I rejoiced as I held her in my arms, in the middle of my messy living room, my own messy boys looking on with curiosity, my own messy life spilling all around us in exuberance. This young couple had walked with me through those crazy times when my children were very new to this world. And as they spoke about their experiences, it tickled me to think that God gave them a front row seat to my own adventures in early parenthood so that maybe they wouldn't be so undone by it all. I think they are sometimes undone anyway. Nothing has a way of undoing us like holding a vulnerable life, completely entrusted to our care, for the first time.
It did not dawn on me until they left that the last time we stood together in my living room, there was no baby to ooh and ahh over. Instead there was a difficult journey seeking earnest prayer; empty arms longing to hold new life. They had come and we prayed that God would open the door for them to be parents. The same place where we prayed was the same place where the answer showed up smiling for pictures. I am undone. I got to hold the answer to their prayers, to our prayers, in my arms. In the same exact place where that prayer was sent forth.
I know that Holy Spirit conviction in my bones, of being reminded that prayer really does make a difference. Seeing some big prayers in my life land, after YEARS of earnest praying, pleading, begging, has shown me the importance of remembering WHO it is after all, that I'm praying to. God is so faithful. He has a way of showing up wherever and whenever He desires. But He loves most of all to show up in our living rooms. In the ordinary stuff of our deepest held hopes and dreams. The longings that don't go away, even in the space of time elapsed. Even in the expanse between desire and fulfillment. And what I love about HIM is how He is paying attention to the details, answering in a way that can only be done by ONE who--knows--it--all. Remembering stuff we don't even pay attention to, and then re-member-ing that sweet detail back into the answer He sends, showing us in an unmistakeable way that only He hears our hearts in all their inexpressable ache.
It is why we must not give up, must not give in, must not succumb to doubt, discouragement, and despair. It is why we must continue to give the contents of our heart into His hands and give ourselves into His meantime care. It is why in the face of inexpressible disappointment and grief we must continue to call out to the only One who can hear the undertones of what we cannot utter. He hears it all; He answers it all. In timing only He can understand and that His wisdom reveals.
I'm just so thankful that my sweet friends did not give in and did not give up on Him. And that they allowed me to see His goodness pouring all through them. In my living room. Just where I am. Just where I most need to remember that He is not done with me yet.