Our daughter is not always the most joyful morning person. (Frankly, we all have our moments.) She is a creature of habit with respect to her choice in breakfast food and equally as particular about its preparation. This morning, her brother decided to make one of her favorite breakfast meals. He placed a buttermilk waffle in the toaster, retrieved a small plate from the cabinet, and after he had centered the warm waffle perfectly on the plate- he topped it with syrup. It was positively beautiful…and so was the sentiment. So imagine his surprise when she approached the plate and promptly crumbled into a small pile of discontent on the floor. She lifted her face from her fuzzy moose slippers and cried, “But, I like mine cut up!”.
Like I said…she’s particular.
She likes her waffle cut up with the pieces arranged around the outer edge of the plate. This leaves a nice area to pour her syrup in the center of the plate so she can dip each piece with just the right amount of sugary goodness. I convinced her to stand up…I assured her that it would be ok…I told her that I would “fix it” but, asked her to please thank her brother first. She shook her head furiously. Why in the world would she thank him for THIS? I firmly told her that I would not rearrange the breakfast on her plate until she properly thanked her brother for the one he had so carefully prepared. She rose from her position on the floor, wiped her tears, and hugged her brother. (Who-by the way-was looking at her like she had two heads at this point.)
I wonder. How many times does God answer a prayer and gives us exactly what we want…but, not in the manner we had wanted it? It’s those times when we are less than thankful and down right unappreciative. It’s shameful. I have been there.
When the Israelites received manna after begging Moses to petition God for food in Exodus…and then responded with grumbling when they grew tired of manna in Numbers 11. God provided exactly what they had requested and yet it was received with grumbling. He further illustrated his unhappiness with their ungrateful response by answering yet another prayer for food…and this time they would choke on that request. Numbers 11 reads:
4The rabble with them began to crave other food, and again the Israelites started wailing and said, “If only we had meat to eat! 5We remember the fish we ate in Egypt at no cost—also the cucumbers, melons, leeks, onions and garlic. 6But now we have lost our appetite; we never see anything but this manna!”
18“Tell the people: ‘Consecrate yourselves in preparation for tomorrow, when you will eat meat. The Lord heard you when you wailed, “If only we had meat to eat! We were better off in Egypt!” Now the Lord will give you meat, and you will eat it. 19You will not eat it for just one day, or two days, or five, ten or twenty days, 20but for a whole month—until it comes out of your nostrils and you loathe it—because you have rejected the Lord, who is among you, and have wailed before him, saying, “Why did we ever leave Egypt?” ’ ”
Truth of the matter: God answered their prayers, they were just unsatisfied and looking for something more, something different, a more aesthetically pleasing arrangement.
Late in 2010, I had begun praying for my husband. I had been a prodigal for many years who had just repented and come home. I wanted the Lord to reach my hubby. I prayed specifically that the Lord would “Git ’em! Please make him a strong spiritual leader in our home.”. Early in 2011, my prayers were answered. My husband had surrendered and then the heat was turned up for both of us. We had built our marriage on a foundation that we had built ourselves…outside of God’s will. Now, as Christians, God had shined the light in some dark places- exposing some pretty mighty flaws in the foundation. Our marriage crumbled.
Wait, God! This is not quite what I had asked for!
Yes, child. It is. And much more.
I felt like I was standing still…alone…in the middle of a massive tornado. I could see the past and present whirling around me. It was so loud….SO LOUD! No, this was not how I had imagined – the prayer begging the Lord to touch my hubby and make him the strong spiritual leader of our home- no, this is NOT how this was supposed to go! There was supposed to be peace. That prayer was not supposed to result in months of barely hanging on. That prayer was not supposed to come with a year of counseling. That prayer was not supposed to come with isolation and friendlessness. But, the truth of the matter is: I was not friendless…I had a friend who sticks closer than a brother. I was insulated but not isolated. And hanging on to the Lord with the only ounce of strength you have left is never a bad place to be.
I had gotten a gift- the very gift I had asked for. And it was arranged on the plate a little differently than expected. Almost three years later, I can see it as a much sweeter gift than the one I had requested.
A buttermilk blessing left behind after a vigorous churning.
Are you thankful for what the Lord has given you? With the way He faithfully responds to your prayers even when it’s in an unexpected way? Are you thankful for breath and life? Or do you grumble because you wish the air were sweeter and the life resembled that of your neighbor?
Lord, thank you for each moment of each day. Thank you for the blessings…the sweet ones and the more bitter tasting buttermilk blessings that come as a result of trials. Lord, I pray that I will give thanks in ALL THINGS and not just the things that are pleasing to me. Lord, I pray that my response and my life will always be one that reflects a desire to please you.