Perhaps you might like to hear how I got to be home in England for Christmas?
I had no money for an international flight home. Since arriving in Tennessee I consistently prayed, “Lord, I would like to go home for Christmas, but whatever happens, I trust you and know it will be good.” Trusting God no matter what happens. Spiritual enough, right?
As December rolled in, I became increasingly aware there was only one place I wanted to be for Christmas. Home. With my family, with my dog, with my six-month old nephew. Watching Star Wars with my brother, eating mince pies and seeing friends down the pub.
I changed my prayer, “Father, I want to be home for Christmas. Could you make that happen? I’ll deal with the disappointment if it doesn’t happen but this is what I want, so I might as well say it.”
Three days later, my parents FaceTime me. Catherine told me there was a recent — and I quote! — “unexpected windfall.” A cheque came in the post. Money no one expected, from something we thought was done and dusted years ago. My parents wanted to use it to bring me home.
After a heartfelt and bewildered thank you my first question was, “when did you first start thinking about this?”
“Oh, about three days ago.” Catherine woke up in the morning and just knew — just knew — that they had to bring me home for Christmas. As if it wouldn’t be Christmas without me there. The timing coincided exactly with my new prayer.
This was a cool story, but the more I reflected upon it, the more I've realised the Lord is showing me something…
What if a lot my prayers are just playing it safe? What if I’m not asking for what I really want because I don’t want to get my hopes up? Because if my hopes go up, then I’ll go down when it doesn’t work out. But what if God wants to hear my heart’s desires without qualification?
What if trust looks like telling God what’s really going on and knowing he’ll be there if my desires aren’t realised? What if trust is knowing God is there for me in my disappointment? What if trust looks like praying and hoping and asking for something I cannot do myself?
What if disappointment is okay? Just like sadness heals us so we can feel joy, maybe disappointment is necessary for us to feel comforted? What if the real problem is mitigating hope? What if it’s protecting ourselves from disappointment by playing down our desires?
What if faith actually looks like getting your hopes up?