I stood in our three-season porch, warm, bright sunshine pressing through the open window. My pre-school boy pedaled his training bike down the sidewalk that cut through the yard of our century-old home. Behind him, a younger brother pulled a small wagon.
“What’ll it be?” I asked when he stopped in front of the window. “Peanut butter and jelly, or peanut butter and jelly?”
My blond boy smiled wide. “Peanut butter, please.” He poked his thumb in the direction of the rumbling wagon. “For him too.”
I handed one brown bag and then another through the window. My son put them in his bike basket and pedaled toward the picnic table under the maple.
Drive through lunch.
One of their favorite games.
In no time, we’d sit together, sharing food and conversation about everything from beetles to the blue of the sky.
Service was fast.
There was no wait.
Not like, I discovered years later when those boys were teens, the answer to prayer.
Seems to me, that more and more, we live in an instant gratification society. Pull to a window and get food. Punch our phones and connect with someone across the sea. Order online and if we pay enough, by morning that item will be brown-boxed by the back door. It spoils us. Makes us discouraged when things take time.
For a while now, our family has been working through the heartache of a struggling son. My husband and I have five boys, and our hearts are full for each one. But when a single child struggles, the wound cuts deep. We’ve ached beside our boy. Hurt with him. Carried worry until our shoulders grow weary from the weight.
It’s been years.
But I’m understanding that when an answer to prayer is long-coming, the Lord is fully-present. Understanding His Presence brings purpose to the wait.
I love to consider the life of Elisha. At one point, the nation of Aram was at war with Israel. God protected his people by speaking to Elisha – telling him the battle plans of the opposing king. When the King of Aram learned this, he sent an army after Elisha. Elisha’s servant woke one morning, went to the window, and was frightened when he saw the army of Aram. But Elisha was calm and confident.
Then Elisha prayed, “O Lord, open his eyes and let him see!” The LORD opened the young man’s eyes, and when he looked up, he saw that the hillside around Elisha was filled with horses and chariots of fire.2 Kings 6:17 NLT
An army, a holy host of angel warriors, surrounded Elisha and his servant. They were ready to fight. Ready to protect. From the hand of the Lord to the heart of the needy, God provided.
The Lord, in mercy and grace, will provide for me, too. His hand of protection is there. Even when I cannot see.
When the battle rages and I’m challenged to wait for the answer to a prayer that has become as steady as breath, I can grow in trust. I can grow in knowledge of who He is and how He loves. I can learn to practice His Presence by knowing that He’s on the field, fully armed and prepared. My relationship with the Lord is love-based, and trusting in His Presence brings gratitude and strength to my faith.
Some days, I see the Lord’s hand. I see progress. Favorable things. Other days are harder. And though I don’t care for those tough times, I know that it’s okay. I’ll continue to wait.
Answer to prayer isn’t always fast and easy like my boys’ childhood days under the sun.
But the Lord is here.
There’s peace in His Presence.
And He’ll never leave.
Shawnelle Eliasen and her husband Lonny have five sons. They live in an old Victorian near the Illinois banks of the Mississippi River. Shawnelle home teaches her three youngest boys, and when the house grows quiet at night, she writes. She’s a regular contributor to Guideposts magazine and Chicken Soup for the Soul books and is a 2016 and 2017 contributor to Daily Guideposts devotional. She’s also written for other publications including MomSense, Marriage Partnership, and Thriving Family. Her passion is to encourage women in the strong love of Jesus and to see the Lord’s Presence in the small moments of life. Her blog, Family Grace, can be found at shawnellewrites.blogspot.com