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Asking the Tough Questions

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  • Stephen J. Hall
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ NOTES FROM THE VALLEY February 10, 2008 Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no
    Message 1 of 8 , Feb 8, 2008
    • 0 Attachment
      ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

      NOTES FROM THE VALLEY
      February 10, 2008

      "Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
      I will fear no evil for you are with me." Psalm 23.

      ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

      Asking the Tough Questions

      When I was a child, I used to get really nervous about asking my Dad
      for anything - even advise. He had this most frustrating habit of
      responding to my requests with questions of his own. Questions that
      would make me really think about what I was asking of him. Tough
      questions.

      "Do you really need it?"
      "Why?"
      And then there was the dreaded, "Do you think you deserve it?"

      I was young and in a hurry. I had needs. Why couldn't he just
      say, "yes" and let me get back to whatever it was I was doing? Later
      in life, as a parent, I learned that the answer to that question was
      Dad loved us too much. Too much to just give us whatever our hearts
      desired. Dad wanted us to learn some hard lessons about the
      differences between "needs" and "wants." Differences we would have
      to understand if we were going to make wise choices between the two
      as adults. Out of love, he always provided us with everything we
      needed. Out of love, he also protected us from our potentially
      harmful "wants."

      In Matthew, Chapter 7, Jesus said, "Ask, and it will be given to you;
      seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For
      everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who
      knocks it will be opened."

      As a young Christian, I kind of figured that meant I could "ask" my
      heavenly Father for anything I wanted and I'd "receive" it. I was
      really into the "name it and claim it" brand of theology. So were a
      lot of other people I knew. And, like them, I got so frustrated when
      the items on my "wish list" didn't come pouring in from the heavenly
      storehouse. When I finally took the time to stop fussing with God
      about His lack of answers to my prayers and reexamine the verses I'd
      pinned those prayers on, I found the following in the continuation of
      Jesus' words,

      "For what man is there among you who, if his son asks for bread, will
      give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will he give him a
      serpent? If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your
      children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good
      things to those who ask Him!"

      My Dad was imperfect just like the rest of us. But he gave good
      gifts to us. Always meeting our needs. Asking us questions to help
      us examine and make wise choices about our wants. "How much more"
      will my heavenly Father give out of His perfect love and the eternal
      plans He has for my good? The problem has never been God's
      faithfulness to His promises, but my expectations of His responses.
      I was expecting things I wanted. He responded with the things I
      needed. And He responded with the most precious gift of all -
      Himself. The creator of heaven and earth bent low to whisper in my
      ear those tough questions a truly loving Father will ask of His
      child.

      I don't know if any of you are struggling with what you perceive to
      be unanswered prayers. I know we've gone through times where we
      wondered if God was even listening anymore. But in the midst of all
      those struggles, I was reminded that God always answers my prayers.
      It may not be the way I think He should, but His answers always
      come. And I need to be open to whatever form His answers might
      take. To be aware of what's going on around me; to see what God is
      doing and to be responsive to it. And if God's response is the
      probing questions of a loving Father, I need to be quiet enough to
      listen. And when I don't understand His answers, I need to have
      enough faith in Him to trust that they are still the right answers
      for me - for my eternal well being. To trust Him. To trust in His
      promise to always, ". . . meet all (my) needs according to his
      glorious riches in Christ Jesus." Philippians 4:19 (NIV)

      Sheltered under His wing and overwhelmed by His love,
      Steve



      "GOD'S SHAKING HIS HEAD RIGHT NOW"
      (Author - Mark Phillips)

      "I think God is shaking his head right now." I turned to look at my
      4 year old son. Our mid-week service was beginning and everyone else
      had bowed their heads to pray, but I was intrigued, as always, with
      my kids' views of God. So as the prayer began, I leaned close and
      whispered, "What did you say?"

      "I think God is shaking his head right now," he repeated, his own
      head bobbing up and down as he simultaneously assured me that his
      statement was true, and demonstrated that he really meant "nodding,"
      not shaking.

      I grinned slightly, then whispered, "Why do you think so?"

      He paused, thinking, then said, "I just think he is," nodding twice
      more to be sure I had the idea. I smiled and ran my hand through his
      close-cut hair. Apparently, somewhere along the way, he has learned
      something important: God wants to grant our requests. Like any
      loving parent, God wants to provide what we request. And in my son's
      mind, that means as our church joins together in prayer, or our
      family gathers before bed-time, God sits in heaven, nodding in
      understanding as He hears our requests. What an incredible picture my
      son sees: the God of creation, the Almighty of the universe, the
      Creator and Sustainer of all, pausing to listen and understand as we
      pour out our requests.

      Sometimes God must say "no." As the ultimate loving parent, he knows
      that the desires of our hearts can actually be our undoing. But Paul
      assured the Corinthians that God loves to say "yes" to his people,
      and that God's promises are unchanging, no matter what the
      circumstances:

      God, I've done it all . . . will you really accept me? Is there
      really life even after the doctor says 'terminal'? Does forgiven
      really mean forgotten? Can you really remember every hair on my head
      and yet forget every sin on my record? I blew it . . .again. Are you
      really that patient? God . . . are you there? Do you really care?
      Do you understand how badly I hurt? Is there . . . hope?

      I think God is shaking his head. His answer, in Christ, is "Yes."


      THE PRAYER OF A CHILD

      Helen Roseveare, a Doctor missionary from England to Zaire Africa,
      told this in her testimony on Wednesday night at Thomas Road Baptist
      Church.

      One night I had worked hard to help a mother in the labor ward; but
      in spite of all we could do she died leaving us with a tiny premature
      baby and a crying two-year-old daughter. We would have difficulty
      keeping the baby alive, as we had no incubator (we had no electricity
      to run an incubator) and no special feeding facilities. Although we
      lived on the equator, nights were often chilly with treacherous
      drafts.

      One student midwife went for the box we had for such babies and the
      cotton wool the baby would be wrapped in. Another went to stoke up
      the fire and fill a hot water bottle. She came back shortly in
      distress to tell me that in filling the bottle, it had burst. Rubber
      perishes easily in tropical climates. "And it is our last hot water
      bottle!" she exclaimed. As in the West it is no good crying over
      spilled milk, so in Central Africa it might be considered no good
      crying over burst water bottles. They do not grow on trees, and there
      are no drugstores down forest pathways.

      "All right," I said, "Put the baby as near the fire as you safely
      can; sleep between the baby and the door to keep it free from drafts.
      Your job is to keep the baby warm."

      The following noon, as I did most days, I went to have prayers with
      any of the orphanage children who chose to gather with me. I gave the
      youngsters various suggestions of things to pray about and told them
      about the tiny baby. I explained our problem about keeping the baby
      warm enough, mentioning the hot water bottle. The baby could so
      easily die if it got chills. I also told them of the two-year-old
      sister, crying because her mother had died. During the prayer time,
      one ten-year-old girl, Ruth, prayed with the usual blunt conciseness
      of our African children. "Please, God," she prayed, "send us a water
      bottle. It'll be no good tomorrow, God, as the baby will be dead, so
      please send it this afternoon."

      While I gasped inwardly at the audacity of the prayer, she added by
      way of corollary, "And while You are about it, would You please send
      a dolly for the little girl so she'll know You really love her?"

      As often with children's prayers, I was put on the spot. Could I
      honestly say, "Amen"? I just did not believe that God could do this.
      Oh, yes, I know that He can do everything. The Bible says so. But
      there are limits, aren't' t there? The only way God could answer this
      particular prayer would be by sending me a parcel from the homeland.
      I had been in Africa for almost four years at that time, and I had
      never, ever received a parcel from home; anyway, if anyone did send
      me a parcel, who would put in a hot water bottle? I lived on the
      equator!

      Halfway through the afternoon, while I was teaching in the nurses'
      training school, a message was sent that there was a car at my front
      door. By the time I reached home, the car had gone, but there, on the
      verandah, was a large twenty-two pound parcel. I felt tears pricking
      my eyes. I could not open the parcel alone, so I sent for the
      orphanage children. Together we pulled off the string, carefully
      undoing each knot. We folded the paper, taking care not to tear it
      unduly. Excitement was mounting. Some thirty or forty pairs of eyes
      were focused on the large cardboard box. From the top, I lifted out
      brightly colored, knitted jerseys. Eyes sparkled as I gave them out.
      Then there were the knitted bandages for the leprosy patients, and
      the children looked a little bored. Then came a box of mixed raisins
      and sultanas---that would make a nice batch of buns for the weekend.
      Then, as I put my hand in again, I felt the . . . could it really be?
      I grasped it and pulled it out - yes, a brand-new, rubber hot water
      bottle! I cried. I had not asked God to send it. I had not truly
      believed that He could.

      Ruth was in the front row of the children. She rushed forward, crying
      out, "If God has sent the bottle, He must have sent the dolly, too!"
      Rummaging down to the bottom of the box, she pulled out the small,
      beautifully dressed dolly. Her eyes shone! She had never doubted.
      Looking up at me, she asked: "Can I go over with you, Mummy, and give
      this dolly to that little girl, so she'll know that Jesus really
      loves her? "

      That parcel had been on the way for five whole months. Packed up by
      my former Sunday school class, whose leader had heard and obeyed
      God's prompting to send a hot water bottle, even to the equator. And
      one of the girls had put in a dolly for an African child - five
      months before - in answer to the believing prayer of a ten-year-old
      to bring it "that afternoon."

      "Before they call, I will answer!" Isaiah 65:24


      ______________________________________________________________________
      ________

      Copyright © 1998 - 2008 by Stephen J. Hall - Notes from the Valley
      and Humor from the Valley are meant to brighten your day and
      encourage you along the way. If you are blessed by them, please feel
      free to make copies and pass them along to others. If you have
      something you'd like to contribute to a future edition or would like
      to ask us a question or make a comment, please contact us at:
      steveh.rbis@...

      ______________________________________________________________________
      _________


      Your love, God, is my song, and I'll sing it! I'm forever telling
      everyone how faithful you are. I'll never quit telling the story of
      your love . . . (Psalm 89:1-2 The Message)
    • Stephen J. Hall
      ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ NOTES FROM THE VALLEY February 9, 2009 Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no
      Message 2 of 8 , Feb 10, 2009
      • 0 Attachment
        ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

        NOTES FROM THE VALLEY
        February 9, 2009

        "Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
        I will fear no evil for you are with me." Psalm 23.

        ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

        ASKING THE TOUGH QUESTIONS

        When I was a child, I used to get really nervous about asking my Dad
        for anything - even advise. He had this most frustrating habit of
        responding to my requests with questions of his own. Questions that
        would make me really think about what I was asking of him. Tough
        questions. "Do you really need it?" "Why?" And then there was the
        dreaded, "Do you think you deserve it?" I was young and in a hurry.
        I had needs. Why couldn't he just say, "yes" and let me get back to
        whatever it was I was doing? Later in life, as a parent, I learned
        that the answer to that question was Dad loved us too much. Too much
        to just give us whatever our hearts desired. Dad wanted us to learn
        some hard lessons about the differences between "needs" and "wants."
        Differences we would have to understand if we were going to make wise
        choices between the two as adults. Out of love, he always provided
        us with everything we needed. Out of love, he also protected us from
        our potentially harmful "wants."

        In Matthew, Chapter 7, Jesus said, "Ask, and it will be given to you;
        seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For
        everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who
        knocks it will be opened."

        As a young Christian, I kind of figured that meant I could "ask" my
        heavenly Father for anything I wanted and I'd "receive" it. I was
        really into the "name it and claim it" brand of theology. So were a
        lot of other people I knew. And, like them, I got so frustrated when
        the items on my "wish list" didn't come pouring in from the heavenly
        storehouse. When I finally took the time to stop fussing with God
        about His lack of answers to my prayers and reexamine the verses I'd
        pinned those prayers upon, I found the following in the continuation
        of Jesus' words,

        "For what man is there among you who, if his son asks for bread, will
        give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will he give him a
        serpent? If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your
        children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good
        things to those who ask Him!"

        My Dad was imperfect just like the rest of us. But he gave good
        gifts to us. Always meeting our needs. Asking us questions to help
        us examine and make wise choices about our wants. "How much more"
        will my heavenly Father give out of His perfect love and the eternal
        plans He has for my good? The problem has never been God's
        faithfulness to His promises, but my expectations of His responses.
        I was expecting things I wanted. He responded with the things I
        needed. And He responded with the most precious gift of all -
        Himself. The creator of heaven and earth bent low to whisper in my
        ear those tough questions a truly loving Father will ask of His
        child.

        I don't know if any of you are struggling with what you perceive to
        be unanswered prayers. With the current financial crisis, many of
        our friends and family certainly are. So many plans and dreams have
        been put on hold or abandoned completely. These are disheartening
        times. But in the midst of all these struggles, I am reminded that
        God always answers our prayers. It may not be the way we think He
        should, but His answers always come. And we need to be open to
        whatever form His answers might take. To be aware of what's going on
        around us; to see what God is doing and to be responsive to it. And
        if God's response is the probing questions of a loving Father, we
        need to be quiet enough to listen. And when we don't understand His
        answers, we need to have enough faith in Him to trust that they are
        still the right answers for us - for our eternal well being. To
        trust Him. To trust in His promise to always, ". . . meet all (our)
        needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus." Philippians
        4:19 (NIV)

        Sheltered under His wind and overwhelmed by His love,
        Steve


        "God's Shaking His Head Right Now"
        (Author - Mark Phillips)

        "I think God is shaking his head right now." I turned to look at my
        4 year old son. Our mid-week service was beginning and everyone else
        had bowed their heads to pray, but I was intrigued, as always, with
        my kids' views of God. So as the prayer began, I leaned close and
        whispered, "What did you say?"

        "I think God is shaking his head right now," he repeated, his own
        head bobbing up and down as he simultaneously assured me that his
        statement was true, and demonstrated that he really meant "nodding,"
        not shaking.

        I grinned slightly, then whispered, "Why do you think so?"

        He paused, thinking, then said, "I just think he is," nodding twice
        more to be sure I had the idea. I smiled and ran my hand through his
        close-cut hair. Apparently, somewhere along the way, he has learned
        something important: God wants to grant our requests. Like any
        loving parent, God wants to provide what we request. And in my son's
        mind, that means as our church joins together in prayer, or our
        family gathers before bed-time, God sits in heaven, nodding in
        understanding as He hears our requests. What an incredible picture my
        son sees: the God of creation, the Almighty of the universe, the
        Creator and Sustainer of all, pausing to listen and understand as we
        pour out our requests.

        Sometimes God must say "no." As the ultimate loving parent, he knows
        that the desires of our hearts can actually be our undoing. But Paul
        assured the Corinthians that God loves to say "yes" to his people,
        and that God's promises are unchanging, no matter what the
        circumstances:

        God, I've done it all . . . will you really accept me? Is there
        really life even after the doctor says 'terminal'?
        Does forgiven really mean forgotten? Can you really remember every
        hair on my head and yet forget every sin on my record? I blew
        it . . .again. Are you really that patient? God . . . are you
        there? Do you really care? Do you understand how badly I hurt? Is
        there . . . hope?

        I think God is shaking his head. His answer, in Christ, is "Yes."


        A Little Girl's Prayer

        Helen Roseveare, a Doctor missionary from England to Zaire Africa,
        told this in her testimony on Wednesday night at Thomas Road Baptist
        Church.

        One night I had worked hard to help a mother in the labor ward; but
        in spite of all we could do she died leaving us with a tiny premature
        baby and a crying two-year-old daughter. We would have difficulty
        keeping the baby alive, as we had no incubator (we had no electricity
        to run an incubator)
        and no special feeding facilities. Although we lived on the equator,
        nights were often chilly with treacherous drafts.

        One student midwife went for the box we had for such babies and the
        cotton wool the baby would be wrapped in. Another went to stoke up
        the fire and fill a hot water bottle. She came back shortly in
        distress to tell me that in filling the bottle, it had burst. Rubber
        perishes easily in tropical climates. "And it is our last hot water
        bottle!" she exclaimed. As in the West it is no good crying over
        spilled milk, so in Central Africa it might be considered no good
        crying over burst water bottles. They do not grow on trees, and there
        are no drugstores down forest pathways.

        "All right," I said, "Put the baby as near the fire as you safely
        can; sleep between the baby and the door to keep it free from drafts.
        Your job is to keep the baby warm."

        The following noon, as I did most days, I went to have prayers with
        any of the orphanage children who chose to gather with me. I gave the
        youngsters various suggestions of things to pray about and told them
        about the tiny baby. I explained our problem about keeping the baby
        warm enough, mentioning the hot water bottle. The baby could so
        easily die if it got chills. I also told them of the two-year-old
        sister, crying because her mother had died. During the prayer time,
        one ten-year-old girl, Ruth, prayed with the usual blunt conciseness
        of our African children. "Please, God," she prayed, "send us a water
        bottle. It'll be no good tomorrow, God, as the baby will be dead, so
        please send it this afternoon."

        While I gasped inwardly at the audacity of the prayer, she added by
        way of corollary, "And while You are about it, would You please send
        a dolly for the little girl so she'll know You really love her?"

        As often with children's prayers, I was put on the spot. Could I
        honestly say, "Amen"? I just did not believe that God could do this.
        Oh, yes, I know that He can do everything. The Bible says so. But
        there are limits, aren't' t there? The only way God could answer this
        particular prayer would be by
        sending me a parcel from the homeland. I had been in Africa for
        almost four years at that time, and I had never, ever received a
        parcel from home; anyway, if anyone did send me a parcel, who would
        put in a hot water bottle? I lived on the equator!

        Halfway through the afternoon, while I was teaching in the nurses'
        training school, a message was sent that there was a car at my front
        door. By the time I reached home, the car had gone, but there, on the
        verandah, was a large twenty-two pound parcel. I felt tears pricking
        my eyes. I could not open the parcel alone, so I sent for the
        orphanage children. Together we pulled off the string, carefully
        undoing each knot. We folded the paper, taking care not to tear it
        unduly. Excitement was mounting. Some thirty or forty pairs of eyes
        were focused on the large cardboard box. From the top, I lifted out
        brightly colored, knitted jerseys. Eyes sparkled as I gave them out.
        Then there were the knitted bandages for the leprosy patients, and
        the children looked a little bored. Then came a box of mixed raisins
        and sultanas---that would make a nice batch of buns for the weekend.
        Then, as I put my hand in again, I felt the . . . could it really be?
        I grasped it and pulled it out - yes, a brand-new, rubber hot water
        bottle! I cried. I had not asked God to send it. I had not truly
        believed that He could.

        Ruth was in the front row of the children. She rushed forward, crying
        out, "If God has sent the bottle, He must have sent the dolly, too!"
        Rummaging down to the bottom of the box, she pulled out the small,
        beautifully dressed dolly. Her eyes shone! She had never doubted.
        Looking up at me, she asked: "Can I go over with you, Mummy, and give
        this dolly to that little girl, so she'll know that Jesus really
        loves her? "

        That parcel had been on the way for five whole months. Packed up by
        my former Sunday school class, whose leader had heard and obeyed
        God's prompting to send a hot water bottle, even to the equator. And
        one of the girls had put in a dolly for an African child - five
        months before - in answer to the believing prayer of a ten-year-old
        to bring it "that afternoon."

        "Before they call, I will answer!" Isaiah 65:24

        ______________________________________________

        Copyright © 1998 - 2009 by Stephen J. Hall - Notes from the Valley
        and Humor from the Valley are meant to brighten your day and
        encourage you along the way. If you are blessed by them, please feel
        free to make copies and pass them along to others. If you have
        something you'd like to contribute to a future edition, would like to
        ask a question or make a comment, please contact us at:
        steveh.rbis@...
        _____________________________________________

        Your love, God, is my song, and I'll sing it! I'm forever telling
        everyone how faithful you are. I'll never quit telling the story of
        your love . . . (Psalm 89:1-2 The Message)
      • sossteve2005
        ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ NOTES FROM THE VALLEY February 7, 2010 Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no
        Message 3 of 8 , Feb 5, 2010
        • 0 Attachment
          ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

          NOTES FROM THE VALLEY
          February 7, 2010

          "Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
          I will fear no evil for you are with me." Psalm 23.

          ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
          ASKING THE TOUGH QUESTIONS

          When I was a child, I used to get really nervous about asking my Dad for anything - even advise. He had this most frustrating habit of responding to my requests with questions of his own. Questions that would make me really think about what I was asking of him. Tough questions. "Do you really need it?" "Why?" And then there was the dreaded, "Do you think you deserve it?" I was young and in a hurry. I had needs. Why couldn't he just say, "yes" and let me get back to whatever it was I was doing? Later in life, as a parent, I learned that the answer to that question was Dad loved us too much. Too much to just give us whatever our hearts desired. Dad wanted us to learn some hard lessons about the differences between "needs" and "wants." Differences we would have to understand if we were going to make wise choices between the two as adults. Out of love, he always provided us with everything we needed. Out of love, he also protected us from our potentially harmful "wants."

          In Matthew, Chapter 7, Jesus said, "Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened."

          As a young Christian, I kind of figured that meant I could "ask" my heavenly Father for anything I wanted and I'd "receive" it. I was really into the "name it and claim it" brand of theology. So were a lot of other people I knew. And, like them, I got so frustrated when the items on my "wish list" didn't come pouring in from the heavenly storehouse. When I finally took the time to stop fussing with God about His lack of answers to my prayers and reexamine the verses I'd pinned those prayers upon, I found the following in the continuation of Jesus' words,

          "For what man is there among you who, if his son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will he give him a serpent? If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask Him!"

          My Dad was imperfect just like the rest of us. But he gave good gifts to us. Always meeting our needs. Asking us questions to help us examine and make wise choices about our wants. "How much more" will my heavenly Father give out of His perfect love and the eternal plans He has for my good? The problem has never been God's faithfulness to His promises, but my expectations of His responses. I was expecting things I wanted. He responded with the things I needed. And He responded with the most precious gift of all - Himself. The creator of heaven and earth bent low to whisper in my ear those tough questions a truly loving Father will ask of His child.

          I don't know if any of you are struggling with what you perceive to be unanswered prayers. With the current financial crisis, many of our friends and family certainly are. So many plans and dreams have been put on hold or abandoned completely. These are disheartening times. But in the midst of all these struggles, I am reminded that God always answers our prayers. It may not be the way we think He should, but His answers always come. And we need to be open to whatever form His answers might take. To be aware of what's going on around us; to see what God is doing and to be responsive to it. And if God's response is the probing questions of a loving Father, we need to be quiet enough to listen. And when we don't understand His answers, we need to have enough faith in Him to trust that they are still the right answers for us - for our eternal well being. To trust Him. To trust in His promise to always, ". . . meet all (our) needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus." Philippians 4:19 (NIV)

          Sheltered under His wind and overwhelmed by His love,
          Steve


          "GOD'S SHAKING HIS HEAD RIGHT NOW"
          (Author - Mark Phillips)

          "I think God is shaking his head right now." I turned to look at my 4 year old son. Our mid-week service was beginning and everyone else had bowed their heads to pray, but I was intrigued, as always, with my kids' views of God. So as the prayer began, I leaned close and whispered, "What did you say?"

          "I think God is shaking his head right now," he repeated, his own head bobbing up and down as he simultaneously assured me that his statement was true, and demonstrated that he really meant "nodding," not shaking.

          I grinned slightly, then whispered, "Why do you think so?"

          He paused, thinking, then said, "I just think he is," nodding twice more to be sure I had the idea. I smiled and ran my hand through his close-cut hair. Apparently, somewhere along the way, he has learned something important: God wants to grant our requests. Like any loving parent, God wants to provide what we request. And in my son's mind, that means as our church joins together in prayer, or our family gathers before bed-time, God sits in heaven, nodding in understanding as He hears our requests. What an incredible picture my son sees: the God of creation, the Almighty of the universe, the Creator and Sustainer of all, pausing to listen and understand as we pour out our requests.

          Sometimes God must say "no." As the ultimate loving parent, he knows that the desires of our hearts can actually be our undoing. But Paul assured the Corinthians that God loves to say "yes" to his people, and that God's promises are unchanging, no matter what the circumstances:

          God, I've done it all . . . will you really accept me? Is there really life even after the doctor says 'terminal'?
          Does forgiven really mean forgotten? Can you really remember every hair on my head and yet forget every sin on my record? I blew it . . .again. Are you really that patient? God . . . are you there? Do you really care? Do you understand how badly I hurt? Is there . . . hope?

          I think God is shaking his head. His answer, in Christ, is "Yes."


          A LITTLE GIRL'S PRAYER

          Helen Roseveare, a Doctor missionary from England to Zaire Africa, told this in her testimony on Wednesday night at Thomas Road Baptist Church.

          One night I had worked hard to help a mother in the labor ward; but in spite of all we could do she died leaving us with a tiny premature baby and a crying two-year-old daughter. We would have difficulty keeping the baby alive, as we had no incubator (we had no electricity to run an incubator)
          and no special feeding facilities. Although we lived on the equator, nights were often chilly with treacherous drafts.

          One student midwife went for the box we had for such babies and the cotton wool the baby would be wrapped in. Another went to stoke up the fire and fill a hot water bottle. She came back shortly in distress to tell me that in filling the bottle, it had burst. Rubber perishes easily in tropical climates. "And it is our last hot water bottle!" she exclaimed. As in the West it is no good crying over spilled milk, so in Central Africa it might be considered no good crying over burst water bottles. They do not grow on trees, and there are no drugstores down forest pathways.

          "All right," I said, "Put the baby as near the fire as you safely can; sleep between the baby and the door to keep it free from drafts. Your job is to keep the baby warm."

          The following noon, as I did most days, I went to have prayers with any of the orphanage children who chose to gather with me. I gave the youngsters various suggestions of things to pray about and told them about the tiny baby. I explained our problem about keeping the baby warm enough, mentioning the hot water bottle. The baby could so easily die if it got chills. I also told them of the two-year-old sister, crying because her mother had died. During the prayer time, one ten-year-old girl, Ruth, prayed with the usual blunt conciseness of our African children. "Please, God," she prayed, "send us a water bottle. It'll be no good tomorrow, God, as the baby will be dead, so please send it this afternoon."

          While I gasped inwardly at the audacity of the prayer, she added by way of corollary, "And while You are about it, would You please send a dolly for the little girl so she'll know You really love her?"

          As often with children's prayers, I was put on the spot. Could I honestly say, "Amen"? I just did not believe that God could do this. Oh, yes, I know that He can do everything. The Bible says so. But there are limits, aren't' t there? The only way God could answer this particular prayer would be by
          sending me a parcel from the homeland. I had been in Africa for almost four years at that time, and I had never, ever received a parcel from home; anyway, if anyone did send me a parcel, who would put in a hot water bottle? I lived on the equator!

          Halfway through the afternoon, while I was teaching in the nurses' training school, a message was sent that there was a car at my front door. By the time I reached home, the car had gone, but there, on the verandah, was a large twenty-two pound parcel. I felt tears pricking my eyes. I could not open the parcel alone, so I sent for the orphanage children. Together we pulled off the string, carefully undoing each knot. We folded the paper, taking care not to tear it unduly. Excitement was mounting. Some thirty or forty pairs of eyes were focused on the large cardboard box. From the top, I lifted out brightly colored, knitted jerseys. Eyes sparkled as I gave them out. Then there were the knitted bandages for the leprosy patients, and the children looked a little bored. Then came a box of mixed raisins and sultanas---that would make a nice batch of buns for the weekend. Then, as I put my hand in again, I felt the . . . could it really be? I grasped it and pulled it out - yes, a brand-new, rubber hot water bottle! I cried. I had not asked God to send it. I had not truly believed that He could.

          Ruth was in the front row of the children. She rushed forward, crying out, "If God has sent the bottle, He must have sent the dolly, too!" Rummaging down to the bottom of the box, she pulled out the small, beautifully dressed dolly. Her eyes shone! She had never doubted. Looking up at me, she asked: "Can I go over with you, Mummy, and give this dolly to that little girl, so she'll know that Jesus really loves her? "

          That parcel had been on the way for five whole months. Packed up by my former Sunday school class, whose leader had heard and obeyed God's prompting to send a hot water bottle, even to the equator. And one of the girls had put in a dolly for an African child - five months before - in answer to the believing prayer of a ten-year-old to bring it "that afternoon."

          "Before they call, I will answer!" Isaiah 65:24

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          Copyright © 1998 - 2010 by Stephen J. Hall - Notes from the Valley and Humor from the Valley are meant to brighten your day and encourage you along the way. If you are blessed by them, please feel free to make copies and pass them along to others. If you have something you'd like to contribute to a future edition, would like to ask a question or make a comment, please contact us at: steveh.rbis@...
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          Your love, God, is my song, and I'll sing it! I'm forever telling everyone how faithful you are. I'll never quit telling the story of your love . . . (Psalm 89:1-2 The Message)
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