31 December

It was the 31st of December 2016. I had been looking forward to this day since September with much hope and expectation. I had a few down moments in 2016, but the mere thought of the 31st of December kept me going. Let me explain.

I had prayed about a certain issue for months and months but seemingly to no avail. In fact, there were times I would pause during prayer and ask myself if I was praying right. My prayers seemed to bounce off the ceiling. I was desperate for a solution or at least some reassurance from God that He was listening.

One day, kneeling by my bedside after having struggled through yet another session I wondered if anyone else was struggling with unanswered prayer so I did what some people these days do; I went on the internet.

I must have typed in, “dealing with unanswered prayer” or something like that when I stumbled into an article. The writer spoke of how he had offered with faith a specific petition to God and had believed that He would answer within two weeks and God answered within just one! This story reminded me of a dear friend of mine who had prayed to God for someone to buy their house by a specific date and for a specific price and God came through on the right date and it sold for just the price they were looking for!

As I was soaking in all these ideas I couldn’t help but think that perhaps it was by divine providence that I had come across this article and that maybe I needed to pray specifically, with timelines and all. I had tried everything but this and surely if God could come through for those people, He would come through for me too.

So for the next 21 days, I fasted. I prayed that God would grant me my request. I was specific and petitioned God to grant me my heart’s desire by the 31st of December according to His will. I believed that since the 31st was three months away, this was way too much time since God would answer within minutes if He saw fit.

Fast forward to the 31st of December, I realised as I woke up that morning that my prayer had not been answered – well at least to me there was no evidence. All day I contended with the question, “Will I continue to trust and believe in God even in times where it feels He is not answering my heart’s desires, like today?” I asked myself what my prayers would look like going into 2017. Would I just give up or would I keep holding on? For how long?

Since then I’ve continued to ask questions which I must confess have given me a little ray of hope.  Questions like, “Can God be trusted?” “Does God love me?” and “Does He see the end from the beginning?” Yes, my faith has been challenged but I continue to learn a lot from this experience and each time I’m reminded that yes God loves me and yes He can be trusted.

Do you also face a similar situation and have prayed for months or even years for something? Is it for a job perhaps, or is it for healing or a broken relationship and for some reason God appears silent?

I’m making up my mind that even though I do not understand His plan or know the way from here I will trust Him. I hope you decide to join me on this journey of trust and the coolest fact is that we get to embark on this journey with God. The bible does say, “Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; In all your ways acknowledge Him and He shall direct your paths.”

Grace

A short while ago, days before I sat for an exam, I prepared a list of what stationery items I would need. I had them all listed – at least all the stationery items I could think of that seemed relevant for an open book Accounting paper. Ball point pens, ruler, highlighters, you name them.

The day finally arrived and as I made my way to my allocated seat I noticed a few other candidates unpacking their bags when it struck me! I had forgotten my calculator at home! How could I forget a calculator of all things?

Time was running out and I knew I had to act fast. I needed a calculator and there were no two ways about it. I remembered the words of an Invigilator I had come across before in high school as she strictly announced that she and her team would not be providing any stationery and that we needed to ensure we had all we needed before we walked into the hall. Was there hope for me?

Long story short; of course I would have needed a calculator and yes I found one just in time thanks to my Invigilators. It was all an act of grace. Grace – favour that I do not deserve (my definition).

Although I don’t think I will ever get to a stage where I can FULLY comprehend God’s love, this experience, though very simple, is one of many that helps me understand a little bit about His forgiveness, love and mercy. The Invigilators could have chosen not to help me and they would have been justified in doing so but they helped me anyway.

Perhaps you can remember an act of grace that was rendered to you in some way, shape or form. Perhaps it was an assignment that you handed in late and you walked away with just a warning, perhaps you wronged someone and they decided to forgive you. Whatever they might be, I hope these experiences will serve to reveal more of God’s love, mercy and kindness towards you.

Romans 5:8 reads, “But God showed His great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners.” Notice the verse says – while we were sinners, Christ died for us. This means that Christ took on this amazing act of love even when we did not deserve it.

Do you ever feel like you do not deserve God’s love? The truth is we all don’t, BUT the greatest news of all is that although we do not deserve it, God loves us anyway which is why He gave us His son.

So, are you looking for a second chance today and wondering if God will grant you one? The good news is God is extremely good at giving those and He loves us more than we will ever know and He will give us second chances if we accept His invitation. We’ve got to believe it!