Unanswered prayers we can deal with, but what happens when the very thing you pray fervently to avoid occurs? In secular psychology that’s called aversion therapy. In Chrsitiandom it’s called unexpected grace. Today Stephanie Prichard, author of Stranded, shares a time when God brought about the very thing she’d been praying He keep her from. As you read it, pause to consider your prayers and protective hedges, then dream about what life might look like if those hedges were removed.
GIVE-AWAY! Note: Stephanie has graciously donated an e-copy of her novel, to be given away to one reader chosen randomly through the comments left on this post.
Before I continue, and as long as we’re shouting out book deals, I wanted to let you all know, Amazon currently has Beyond I Do on sale for under $6! Print and e-copies! Get yours here. Read a free 36-page excerpt here.
Pleeease, Not Ice! by Stephanie Prichard
Because I’m somewhat expressive (I say “imaginative,” my children say “drama queen”), I occasionally lack credibility with my offspring. Take the winter I was in Chicago helping my daughter recover from surgery. Every day I walked my grandchildren to and from school, loving the stroll with them between rows of condos on a street bustling with traffic. A right-hand turn down a quieter, tree-lined street led to the school.
It was that quieter (read “deserted”) street that caught my imagination when the sidewalks turned into sheets of ice the very hour I needed to get the kids. “I can just see myself falling and breaking my leg,” I told my daughter. “I’ll be lying there, unable to move, and along will come some man. ‘Can I help you?’ he’ll say, and when I tell him I can’t move he’ll wring his hands in delight and go ‘Mwhooohooohooohaha!’” I paused at my daughter’s rolling eyeballs.
“It’s your last day here, Mom. The kids will be disappointed if you don’t walk them home.” She handed me a scarf and mittens and pushed me out the door. Well, it felt like she did, anyway.
Hoo, were those sidewalks slick! Barely maintaining my balance, I slipped and slid and skidded ten steps forward, heart thumping, sweat gushing from my armpits. Dare I crawl on my hands and knees? If I could make it to the corner, maybe someone would help me stand and cross the street. But what if no one was there? I’d have to crawl across the street in front of the stopped traffic, and they’d all laugh at me. We drama queens do have our limits, you know.
I eyed the patches of lawn between the sidewalk and condos. Well, duh, why not walk on the grass? The blades, though glazed with ice, would provide texture to tread on. With a sigh of relief, I stepped onto the frozen grass.
Yep. Onto the hard sidewalk. With my foot twisted under me. And I couldn’t move.
“Can I help you?” A man appeared out of nowhere.
As if following my own script, I said, “I can’t move.”
I stiffened, waiting for the “Mwhooohooohooohaha!” Instead, he pulled out his cell phone and asked, “Do you want me to call an ambulance?”
“Please! And can you call my daughter too?”
Within minutes, she was skidding across the winter wonderland to kneel beside me. Tears spilled from her eyes. “Mom, I’m so sorry!”
How could I say “I told you so” to that?
An ambulance ride and five hours in the emergency room later, I learned I had broken my ankle. Ouch. The very circumstance I had feared … had come true.
That little drama effected a mighty change in me.
I was a coward, and I had ended up in exactly the situation I was afraid of. What if, instead of squaring off my anxiety against circumstances (pleeease, not ice!), I had addressed my character deficiency (I need to be brave)?
Until this incident, my prayers for myself and others had pretty much asked for avoidance of any kind of suffering. Please, heal his cancer … give her a happy marriage … don’t let him lose his job. My prayers spoke only to circumstances, not to character transformations. Now I pray, Please, may he trust in Your plan for his life … may she learn to forgive her husband … may he see his shortcomings at work.
We don’t know if it’s God’s will to change a circumstance, but for sure we know it’s His will for us to grow in godliness.