In preparation for our camping trips with the youth back in the 1980s, we would put out a list of possible menus to get an idea of what food to purchase. At the end of that list was one word followed by a blank line for them to write in something that they might like to have that wasn’t on the list.
You know how teenagers are – witty and smart(-alecky at times). One of the boys wrote in the “other” slot: “Roadkill”. We all got a good chuckle out of that. But it didn’t end there.
No one was late coming to supper the second night of that camping trip. They all knew, except for this one boy, what was going to happen. We were having sandwiches and everyone was opening theirs up, at the same time keeping their eyes on him. He got what he asked for: “Roadkill.” I won’t tell you what it was, but you can let your imagination guess what it might have been – I will tell you it was authentic roadkill. And yes, sometimes youth directors and counselors do some crazy things and have a little fun when the opportunity presents itself. And no – he did not eat the sandwich. We gave him a backup one that had also been prepared for him.
I am sure you have heard it said, “Be careful what you ask for.” A prime example is when we ask God to work in our hearts or to grant us a request. If we ask Him to work in our hearts, then we better be prepared (actually we may never be ready for it) because God will do heart surgery of the heavenly kind. If we ask him to grant us a virtue such as patience, know He will probably not give you patience, but that He will give you plenty of opportunities to practice patience. We’ve also heard the phrase, “practice makes perfect.” Sometimes what we ask for may come without any effort on our part; yet other times, God in His wisdom, knows we need to make an effort and practice in order to appreciate what we want to receive.
We come to God in prayer often with our list of what we pray He will accomplish. I wonder what our prayers would be like if at the end of our list, we paused and added “Other:____”, and let God fill in the blank. Who knows better than He what we need?
And it might also be good to know that when we ask for something, it may not really be what we want. God in His goodness has a backup plan prepared for us and it is probably better than that for which we first asked. While “other” may be at the end of a checklist that may not have a category that applies to us or that doesn’t fit our circumstances, we can trust God to take that “other” when we pause and let Him have a chance to put in it something that fits us perfectly.
So may we pause as we pray, may we ask God to complete our list; even better may we learn to know His will and what’s on His list for us and for others. And may we remember, that ready or not, He will in His own way and His own timing, answer our prayers in ways beyond our deepest expectation. In Jesus’ name. Amen