sunset on lake

When the Answer to Your Prayer is Boring


My sister sent a picture of a beautiful sunset over a lake to the sister group text last night. In the caption, she referred to an on-going conversation the four of us were having and she said, “Life sucks.” The irony of that was, of course, obvious. She was on a lake, enjoying a view that is supposed to remove us from the stresses and “suckiness” of life but there it was. Life’s circumstances screaming at you while the sun glistens across lake water.

So which is it? Sunsets or life sucks?

It’s both.

We enjoy the sunset even though life can suck. We take our joys and respites where the Lord gives them.

I wake up each day with a prayer on my lips. It’s the same one every day–relief from pain, relief from money worry, relief from worry, period. In short, relief from the life sucks part of the equation. Whether for me or those I love, it is my go-to prayer. Lord, keep life running smoothly. I feel like a hobbit. I want to stay in the shire without adversity or trial, though as Frodo found out, that means without adventure, too.

But where did I get the idea that this was my life and not God’s?

When did I decide that God’s job is merely to ensure that my life follows a certain trajectory, smoothly?

Life is hard and I don’t want hard. I want sunsets on lakes with friends and week-long beach trips with the family and Thanksgivings that are literally over the river and through the woods to grandmother’s house we go. Quaint so totally sums up my life expectations. Listen there is nothing wrong with wanting to skip out on the hard stuff, but can we? And what do we lose in doing so? At best, it’ll be a shallow, uneventful life, minus a European excursion perhaps. At it’s worse, it’s all about me.

And, there is that very fine point that hard is coming, as my sister’s text so poignantly stated.

So, what? Pray for mishap and pain? Hardly. As noted, they will come on their own. Pray instead to spend your life for him. When I think of the people who prayed not for comfort and sunshine, but instead to do his work, I am floored by how big and full their lives are for his glory. Christine Cain comes to mind with her human trafficking campaign A21. Check it out and then wonder if starting that organization caused her any sacrifice or stress or worry or angst. Then wonder if it’s been an adventure, a joy to watch people rescued, an amazement at what God has done through them. I’m betting both with the latter making it worth the former.

I don’t have a bucket list, those just seem silly to me, but I am reexamining my life as I turn 60, and it occurred to me that God has answered my prayers. My life has been painful at times, but mostly it’s been fairly uneventful. The Lord has kept it running along smoothly just as I’ve asked. It’s quaint all right, and a tad boring.

But what if I woke up tomorrow and asked for my life to be spent for him, not myself? What if I said, what can I do for you today Lord, instead of listing the ways he can help my day get off to a good start. Then what? I don’t know. I’m not saying he needs me to do something because he can’t. I’m saying maybe he’s got a plan for my life that isn’t just about making sure I get to work on time and the weekend comes fast. Maybe he has an adventure that well, isn’t skydiving out of a plane because I’m turning 60. (People do the dumbest things when turning old.)

But here’s what I do know. Frodo left the shire and had the adventure of a lifetime. One they wrote books about.