Do you still believe God answers prayer?
Or has life pretty much beaten that out of you?
Six months ago, my 9 year old daughter lost her beloved first pet. A gecko named Geck with other-worldly girliness: soft skin, sweet disposition, pinkish coloring, eyelids that looked like they’d been stroked with lavender eyeshadow. My daughter would hold that thing for hours every day as it snuggled up on her neck. (Which made my skin crawl! But my kid’s happiness was worth it.)
One day, an older sister took it out of the cage and, because she’s got developmental disabilities, left it someplace she couldn’t remember. In our house with two cats.
Grief doesn’t really capture my younger daughter’s response. Weeping that day. Tearful moments for weeks. A broken heart every time she’d look at the cage and want to hold her little friend. She’d taken such good care of that gecko—she’d owned it in every sense of the word—and then “life” took it away from her.
As I held her the first night, I asked if I could pray for the gecko. She said yes. I asked God to take care of the creature, keep it close. In my mind, I added: please protect my girl’s heart. She loves this pet so much. Please don’t let the gecko die!
I didn’t say so then, but beneath my prayer, was really this: Please, God, don’t let her hurt like you’ve let me hurt.
Then my daughter blurted her heart out: “God, I want Geck back. I love Geck. I miss her. Please bring her back to me.”
She cried herself to sleep in my arms that night. And my heart sank, thoughts running along these lines: We have two cats… and a gecko on the loose.
Yes, God could do a miracle and keep a fat juicy gecko alive in a house with feline predators, but what were the chances he would? I mean, God’s in the miracle business, but we’re in the humanity business. How many times had I prayed for a miracle and seen loss instead?
How many times have you seen that same thing?
One week ago, we found the gecko. ALIVE. It was in the middle of the hallway, tailless, backed up against a wall by the two cats, screaming this “you’re not taking me alive, evil felines!” gecko-y cry.
The gecko was spared. Half of it, anyway.
It was a half-gecko yes from a God who shakes up our worlds with outside-the-box goodness in moments when life and loss have taught us to expect nothing.
Are we okay with half-gecko yeses? Do we see the value in the yes that brings what’s vital back, even if it looks a little maimed to us? Do we see them as yeses at all? Or was our asking more about getting back to comfortable and familiar?
Right now in another area of life I’m facing this same question. I’ve asked and cried and pleaded, “God, please bring this back alive.” It’s not back yet. Sometimes it looks like a half-gecko comes back in its place, but it’s not the vital half. It’s the half-straight-down-the-middle-of-the-gecko kind. It’s not a yes, it’s a wait.
How can we know the difference between a yes and a wait? The answer lives somewhere deep in our souls. Others may not understand the waiting, the holding onto hope, but our own souls do. We know when God’s not done with an issue in our life. Yes, we want it done. Yes, we’re exhausted by the whole thing and we want the damn gecko back, already.
But for the big, deep cries in our hearts, we know it’s worth the wait for a real yes, whether tailless or not.
Have you asked God for something. . . something for which you’re not even sure he can or would answer your cry? If he’s given a real yes that looks a little like half a gecko, maybe it’s time to stretch your heart and faith into it. Or maybe you are in a place where you know there’s a real yes still brewing. Hold on, friend. Resolution is coming. Not, perhaps, when or how we want it. But it will come.
Walking alongside you,
P.S. If the whole topic of God answering prayer–of ever getting that real yes–is a sore spot because you’ve got a child with a disability, please accept this gift. It’s a recording where I share how God got me through a dark place with my own special needs child, and into a place where I could hope again. Listen to the recording here:
or visit ConversationsLIVE.