Last Monday I was driving to emanate, my church’s young adult service. Due to prior plans, I’d be arriving as it finished. To keep in the loop, I listened to the service’s YouTube stream on the 20 minute drive over.
Michelle was speaking. She encouraged the church to share our dreams with God. Because he’s excited to partner with the desires of our heart.
I think I get that. Then again, I often feel a tension with that message. The language could suggest that God and the universe orbit around my wants and needs. So much of my life’s purpose is found in living for something greater than myself. Any worldview that places ‘me’ at the centre sells life short.
But Michelle’s contagious positivity turned my thoughts to dreams. Bonnaroo was this week. It had been in my calendar all year. Bonnaroo is a huge four day music festival near Nashville. My favourite bands were playing. Their names are written on a literal dream list of bands I needed to see live: Death Cab for Cutie, Third Eye Blind, Oh Wonder.
So this thought runs through my head: “Bonnaroo is coming up. I can't afford to go. I wish I could. Okay, let’s try this… God, could you get me a ticket to Bonnaroo?”
Ten minutes later, I pull up at church. The service was closing. Richard, Michelle’s husband, approached me at the back. For context, he’s the drummer of Civil Twilight, a quality act billed to play this year’s Bonnaroo. We’d talked about it a couple of times.
He asked, “Hey, are you going to Bonnaroo this week?”
“I’d love to. Can’t afford it though.”
“What if I could get you a ticket?”
“Oh really? How much are you thinking?”
(I look a little confused.)
“It would be a comp ticket.”
It clicks. Complimentary. Free.
“Richard, you don’t even know!! I just asked the Lord for a ticket to Bonnaroo 20 minutes ago. Is this even real?!”
Fast forward to the present moment. I’m sitting in a large field on a glorious day in Manchester, TN. I’m at Bonnaroo.
Once again I’m amazed and confused. I guess that’s wonder. Dreams are coming true. It's hard to wrap my emotions around his goodness. Who am I that you are mindful of me? The closer I draw to him, the more I feel his kind intention towards me.
Trying to understand answers to prayer can break the mind. Why this prayer and not that? Why my prayer and not their’s? Many can’t stomach the idea of God because they can’t reconcile the suffering of the world with a God who’s interacts with history.
And to add insult to injury, Jesus made the most outrageous promise to his followers. He said, “Whatever you ask in my name, this I will do.”
Reconciling reality to that promise is a journey full of tension. We don’t see the answers we desperately pray for. But then again, we do. And what if God’s desire was that we would ask of him, so that he may give to us? What if God desired the intimacy found in hearing the desires of your heart?
Music’s playing again.