Prayer vs Planning

I'm still safari-ing through the book of Daniel with Amber and the gals. We have made it halfway! Yee-haw! (Guess you say that on a cattle drive, not a safari. Hm. Will have to think about that!)

This week we read the famous story of Daniel and the lion's den. Everyone knows the story. Darius has taken over the throne, Daniel has a high ranking government position, and the other government officials are jealous of Daniel and want him whacked. They go to Darius and have him sign an edict stating that no one can pray to anyone other than him (Darius) in the next 30 days, lest they be caught and thrown to the lions. Needless to say, Daniel, who has a prayer habit of praying 3 times a day, was caught, and Daniel was charged and sentenced. Into the lion's den he goes, where he spends the night amongst the "king of the beasts" only to be rescued by the King of Kings. Speaking of Kings, Darius didn't sleep a wink that night. Daniel, however, did. Darius went rushing to the cave and found Daniel completely and totally unscathed. Daniel told Darius that his God had sent an angel and shut the mouths of the lions. Yeah God!! And those smarmy satraps and officials who'd plotted the whole demise of Daniel? Into the lion's den they went. Justice is sweet, no?

Of course I'd love to say that I have a prayer habit that is very similar to Daniel's. I would love to tell you I pray 3 times a day. I'd like to say that when troubles come, or bad news, or hard times, that I immediately turn to God. I really want to tell you that I don't try to start to plot and plan how I can get out of this mess or that situation or how I can fix things...

The truth is, I am a planner. I'm a fixer. I want to know what the outcome is going to be at all times. I don't want surprises. I don't need spontaneity. I need a PLAN.

I've been incredibly fortunate in my life to be surrounded by people who are the opposite of me. I've always been blessed to have others whose first reaction to trouble is to pray.

Picture it. Tikal, Guatemala. 6 nurses had just finished a grueling 2 week medical clinic for the poor in the Chimaltenango region and had flown to Tikal for a much needed break. We were going to explore the rainforest and the Mayan ruins for a few days. I, however, had come down with some sort of fever and was not feeling well on the plane to Tikal. I took some Phenergan and fell asleep in the cab. We got to our hotel in the 100+ degree heat (think rainforest -- very hot, damp, and sticky) and learned that there was no a/c in all of Tikal. Excuse me? And we also learned that there was hot water for the showers only between 7-9pm. Okay. I was in a post-Phenergan haze and feeling pretty sick, so decided to lay down under and in front of a fan and pray I'd feel better. The other girls were going to go exploring. I fell asleep for a little while and then woke up feeling like I was going to die. I mean DIE. It was awful. So here I am, alone (while my amigas are gone for God knows how long), sick as a dog, and may I just add -- I don't speak fluent Spanish. I speak poquito -- a very small amount -- but not enough to convey to natives that I am going to be dying soon and would love a cold beverage and for someone to help me get back to Guatemala City. I cannot die in the rainforest, after all. Not without a/c. I finally find my friends, and my dear, sweet best friend Kimmy says "let's go to the airport" -- even though the hotel concierge kept telling us there were no more flights out of Tikal today. We get in a cab, me apologizing the entire time for ruining our trip, and get to the airport. Hotel man was right, there were no flights out until the next morning. Certain I'd be dead by morning, and realizing I had no more Phenergan and would soon be puking all over the airport, I begin to panic and am wondering how in Heaven's sweet name I can fix THIS....when little Kimmy, soft spoken and sweet as ever, says, "let's go over there and just pray." Say whaaaaa? I mean, it sounds good and all, but there are NO FLIGHTS out of here. Didn't you hear? Ahhh...but Kim knows the One who can make a flight appear out of nowhere. Sigh. We prayed, and before we finished (literally), a man walked up to us and said, "Are you trying to get a flight to Guatemala City?" Well, you know the end of the story. We get back to our hotel in Antigua before the night is out and in our very cozy beds in blessed air conditioning. And obviously I lived.

Kim has always possessed a faith that I envy. So does my husband Paul. Whenever things get tough, Paul prays. Always. When I get upset and am running around armed with lists and schedules and my precious plans, Pablo is praying. Always. When I am crying about the bank balance and trying to finagle overtime at the hospital, Paul suggests prayer. Didn't he hear me? We aren't going to make it this month. "I hear you, honey," he'll say, "but all I know to do is to pray." And we do, and guess what? It always works out. God always shows up, just like the angel in the lion's den. And we come out, unscathed, like Daniel. Again.

I pray. A lot. But it isn't my natural tendency to automatically do it. My first reaction is to fix. My next reaction is to pray. I want to be like Kimmy and Paul and Daniel. I do realize how utterly ridiculous it is for me to try to fix anything. God is, after all, God. And I am just me.

Fortunately, I am a work in progress...

"...being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus." Phil. 1:6

*You may also like this post from 2007!


care-in said...

"...all I know to do is pray." Oh how I want that to be true of me. Thank you friend.

Gretchen said...

The answer is so simple, isn't it? Yet we get so blinded by fixing. Praise God for folks around us who sharpen our faith--as he has done for me with you.

I LOVED this story. And I want to be like Kimmy, too.

And thank you for your sweet encouragement of me all the time on my blog.

Tiffani said...

This was SO good! Oh, how I am a fixer of Texan sized proportions!! I love that your sweet friend and hubby inspire you..I love that God gives us those around us to sharpen us, for sure.

His Girl said...

WOW! what an incredible post! Beautiful story, and so typical of what I would do. I'd be the friend who tells you to pray.... NOT!
I'm the panicker, the one who would rather take a proposal to God... "See God? I've weighed all the options! Here is what you can do..."

ugh. I hope some day to be the person who prays first, and asks questions later.