We had few neighbors growing up. Our grandparents lived across the field. On the other side was the McGee’s who farmed probably a hundred acres. One of the McGee’s lived through the pasture, and behind the pond. That’s what having neighbors means when you live in a farming community.
They had three little girls. The oldest was Sandra, who was in kindergarten when I was in the 5th grade. She caught the bus at my driveway every day.
One cold afternoon as Sandra and I got off the bus, I saw one of our dogs laying on the bank. I ran over to her and quickly realized that although there was hardly any traffic down our dirt road, she’d been hit by a car and didn’t make it. She had been a stray, and we hadn’t had her long, but I was (and remain to this day) a huge dog person, so I was heartbroken.
I knelt beside her and sobbed. Sweet little Sandra put her hand on my shoulder and said, “Don’t cry, Dee. God can fix this. He can make her be okay if you ask Him! Just pray!” Even as a child, I knew I didn’t have the faith to pray that way. I believed He COULD do it, but I didn’t think He would, so I didn’t even ask.
Later, I felt the crushing weight of guilt. Why couldn’t I trust God the way Sandra did? Why hadn’t I prayed God would save my little stray dog? I felt like it was my fault she was dead as much as if I’d been the one driving the car that hit her.
Many years later, dear friends lost their baby. It remains one of the lowest points of my life, and I can’t imagine how much worse it was — and is — for them. As I held her tiny, lifeless body in my arms, I prayed with every fiber of my being that God would breathe life into her. I begged Him for all I was worth to raise her from the dead. I had never prayed so hard for anything in my life.
God didn’t answer that prayer.
After we buried her, I yet again carried a burden of guilt that I didn’t have the faith it took to save little Kaylee. It was truly a life and death situation, and I had failed the faith test.
Where once I felt I had a strong faith, now it seemed so many times in major crisis situations, my prayers were fruitless. I began to cringe inside when someone asked me to pray for them. I wanted to say, “No, please. Get someone else. I’m not the woman of faith you think I am. I’ll only let you down.”
During that low time, my friend Joey (whom I’ve quoted several times in this blog already, and there will surely be more) said while sharing his own experience,”I didn’t have a faith that worked. I had a faith that worked me.”
That’s exactly what I had — a faith that worked ME. My faith was working me to DEATH. And I was exhausted.
A faith that worked me carried the guilt of unanswered prayers. If I had more faith, if I could just have manufactured, strained, squeezed, pulled and pried a mustard seed more, then maybe Kaylee would have lived. Maybe my family would have been intact. Maybe my children wouldn’t have been hurt. Maybe my Daddy wouldn’t have died. What was wrong with me? Did I have some unknown and unconfessed sin? Didn’t I quote enough Scripture? Pray eloquently enough?
I look back on all of that and shake my head. Whew! It makes me tired to even remember it!! I lived in constant fear, worry, guilt and shame. That’s a weight no one can bear.
Today, I’m so much more relaxed. I don’t get so worked up. I don’t feel like it all rides on me. I still carry deep burdens, and I still have some serious prayer concerns for loved ones that remain unanswered, but I don’t feel like I have to manufacture faith that I don’t have anymore.
I still pray! But how different my prayers are today than they were when I carried the weight of the world on my shoulders. I now let the only One who can carry it do the work.
If you ask me to pray for you, I’m going to! I’ll ask God along with you to bring your prodigal son back home, to save your marriage, heal your loved one with cancer or your sick pet, help you find a better job, and if need be, raise the dead. I have the faith that God can do ALL of those things!
Will He? That I don’t know and can’t promise. And I’m okay with that. I’m still going to ask, but I’m not taking responsibility for the results. God knows what’s best.
I wish Kaylee hadn’t died, and if I had to do it over again, I’d still beg God to heal her. However, I no longer think God didn’t save her because of something I did wrong. I’m grateful I no longer feel God is that mean. I don’t know if we’ll know this side of Heaven why she died, but I’m grateful I know we’ll see her again.
Through the most painful of life experiences, I’ve now seen wonderful things come from the darkest times, and although I don’t always understand why things have to be the way they are, I trust God more now than I did then. I realize now that He may have something even better waiting down the road, and if someone doesn’t get the job we prayed for, I know that could mean a better one awaits them.
All that trying and striving couldn’t manufacture faith — it must come from God. Romans 12:3 says,
God has dealt to each one a measure of faith.
That means the burden is on God to give us faith as He sees fit!
And how cool is this? When my faith is low, I can ask for more. In Mark 9, a man who asked for healing for his son knew where faith came from and Who to ask,
I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!
These days I spend a lot of my prayer time simply asking for the knowledge of God’s will, trusting that He knows better than I do, and the power to carry it out.
I finally found a faith that works.