How strange prayer is. Sometimes it feels like God is right in the room with me, hearing my heart, leading the way. Sometimes I feel like God and I are just missing each other — I’m not getting through.
It reminds me of how I felt flying into Rio de Janeiro a few years ago.
The flight went smoothly enough… until we landed at the airport. My co-worker, Denise, and I sailed through customs and walked out into a crowd of greeters. As we scanned the sea of expectant eyes, not one pair looked back at us with recognition. Our friend, Janie, who had asked us to come to Brazil to train her new music staff, was simply not there. So, we gathered our luggage and stood in a conspicuous place. After a half hour of anxious waiting, we decided we needed do something.
So, we prayed.
God you know where Janie is, you know where we are. Please help us find each other.
Our cell phones were dead, but we found a bank of pay phones. They looked equipped to take credit cards. I swiped, but nothing happened. I swiped again, nothing. A man using the phone next to me pantomimed that the phone didn’t take credit cards. We needed to buy a prepaid phone card. So, after more pantomiming and broken English with a security guard and the women at an airport pharmacy, I finally purchased the critical calling card. All the while, Denise stood sentry in the airport, on the lookout for Janie.
I had three phone numbers for our friend. Two cell numbers and a home number. I tried the first cell number and only received the Brazilian equivalent of the Verizon operator. The second number rang and rang and rang. No luck. I tried each number again. Nothing. Reluctantly, I dialed the land line, praying for someone to answer the phone, but not wanting it to be Janie. I knew that she lived at least an hour from the airport. As the phone rang, I whispered, “She better not be home, she better not be home.” To my surprise a young woman answered the phone.
“No. blah, blah” – something in Portuguese.
“Do you know where Janie is?” I formed each word slowly.
Hesitation. “I – don’t – speak English.”
“Yes, you do. You just did!” Finally someone to help me! “I am Julie. I’m at the airport. Do you know where Janie is?”
Pause. “Janie airport.”
“We can’t find her,” I answered, trying to hide the desperation in my voice.
Silence. “Oh, OK. I call. I tell her call you. Number?” So I gave her the phone number of the pay phone, praying that she had been taught numbers in the English classes she had obviously taken.
Soon, the pay phone rang and on the other end I heard … Janie. Contact! She hadn’t forgotten us. She wasn’t lost. She had been waiting in another section of the airport all this time.
Ten minutes later, Janie greeted me with “Hey Julie, baby!” She and her friend Maita were hugging us and throwing our bags in her car.
It was a rough landing, but finally, we had arrived.
See how that’s like prayer?
Sometimes it just doesn’t feel like I’m getting through. Like I have the wrong number, or I just connect with an automated operator at the other end. Does God read pantomime? Do I need a translator?
But really, God sees what I don’t. He wants me to trust him to work it out in his timing. I’m learning to do that. And soon I know I’ll hear, “Hey Julie, baby! I was here all the time.”
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I linked this story up with Jennifer Dukes Lee at #TellHisStory. This is good stuff!