That's Not What I Had in Mind!

I have a personal fitness trainer.  His name is Mitchell.  I know some of you are thinking, Isn't that your dog's name?  Yes, it is.  Coincidence?  Hardly.  You see, the dog is my fitness trainer.  Every morning between seven and eight o'clock, I am awakened by a 90-lb shepherd hovering inches from my face and panting on me with his hot breath.  His eyes are bright.  His tail is wiggling.  In fact, his entire body is wiggling.  His perky ears are tilted forward, ready for any sound to indicate that I'm actually awake.

You must understand.  Mitch and I have very different thoughts about exercise.  For Mitch, exercise is fun.  Walking is great, hiking is better and running is best.  On the flip side, the only justification I can come up with for running is if I'm being chased.  Otherwise, just let me sleep!

But no matter how long I "play dead", Mitch is ever persistent.  If his hot breath doesn't get me moving, he'll nudge me with his nose.  If that doesn't work, he'll flop down beside me and wiggle his entire body until he literally pushes me off the bed.  From there, he howls until I pull my clothes on, he leads me to my shoes and "helps" me tie them.  He grabs the leash, and out the door we go.  Then, to ensure I get a proper workout, he urges me to do intervals.  Walk, run, walk, run, walk, run.  He loves it and looks forward to this routine every morning.  Once I'm going, I don't mind the walking, although I'm still not overly fond of the running.  But getting me going in the morning is another story.  First thing in the morning, the last thing I want to do is get up and run.  I want to sleep!  I want to be lazy.  I want to putter around the house until I can get my body awake.  Yes, without my trainer/dog, I wouldn't get anywhere near enough exercise.

The funny thing is that for years I've prayed for God to give me the motivation and discipline to stick with a good exercise routine.  In my own strength, I just can't make it work.  I don't like to exercise.  I don't want to exercise.  But I know I need to exercise.  "Please, Lord," I would pray, "help me to find the strength and motivation to find a program and stick with it."  I've prayed and prayed, and it finally dawned on me that God had already answered my prayer.  "Dana, meet your motivation.  His name is Mitchell."  How about that?

I'm reminded of the story of the man who was trapped in his house by an incoming flood.  He prayed for the Lord to deliver him from the catastrophe.  Before long, a man came by in a row boat and offered the victim safe passage.  "No thanks," replied the man.  "The Lord will save me."  As the waters rose, another boat passed by the man's house, and once again, the man was offered a ride to safety.  But once again, he refused, saying, "No thanks!  The Lord will save me."  The rising water finally forced the man onto his roof.  As he sat there, clinging to the chimney, a helicopter flew in and hovered inches above him.  "Grab my hand," a man in the helicopter cried.  "I'll pull you up."  "No thanks, the Lord will save me," the man replied.  The next thing the man knew, He was in Heaven standing before God.  "What gives?" the man complained.  "I asked you to save me from the flood, and you didn't answer my prayer."  "What?" God questioned.  "I sent you two boats and a helicopter.  What more do you want?"

The story is humorous, but I think too many times that's exactly how we think.  We pray for something and already have in mind how we want the answer to come about.  But when the answer doesn't manifest itself the way we expect, we either get angry with God for not answering the right way or we accuse Him of not answering our prayers at all.  While living the Christian life, it is imperative to remember that God's ways are not our ways.  He has His own plans, His own agenda.  And regardless what we may think, His ways are best.

Are you waiting for an answer to a prayer today?  Could it be that God has already answered, and you simply didn't recognize it as such?    Could it be that you did recognize it as God's answer, but because it wasn't the answer you wanted, you chose to ignore it?

God will answer our prayers, but He will do it in His time and in His way.  Our job is to pay attention and spot His answers when they arrive.  Then, whether we like the answer or not, we should praise the One who hears our cries and who loves us enough to give us what we need even if it isn't what we want.