Prayer is a funny thing. We pray, expectantly, but when those prayers are answered we are often surprised. Why is that? Perhaps we are surprised and overwhelmed by God’s goodness toward us. I certainly have felt undeserving of many of God’s blessings in my life. Sometimes though, the answers we get aren’t what we expected.
Case in point. In the past I have asked God to give me a humble spirit. Since humility is the opposite of pride and pride is said to be the original sin, it seems like the thing to do. Right? I hand God my pride, he hands me humility. Boom. Done deal. Easy peasy. Unfortunately it doesn’t work like that. God doesn’t give us a humble spirit he works through circumstances to cause us to acquire a humble spirit. Seems in my case God has worked through multiple circumstances, in multiple ways, at multiple times to help me understand the nature of humility. Want a few examples? I thought you did.
Would you like to hear about the time a door-to-door salesman knocked just as I’d finished breakfast? Fortunately I had already showered and put on makeup so I didn’t look like something the dog had buried under a bush. In fact, my bathroom mirror told me I was looking particularly sassy that morning. I decided, after a quick look through the peephole, to take pity on the man and turn him away with a kind word. I opened the door and smiled my biggest and brightest smile. In return, the man’s eyes began to twinkle and he returned a smile with equal wattage. He launched into his well-rehearsed spiel until I cut him off with a witty reply and sent him on his way. The man winked, smiled, and strolled off whistling. Feeling pretty good about myself, as I was obviously sassy, witty, and immensely kind, I walked into my bathroom and discovered, much to my great horror and embarrassment, a huge chunk of egg stuck between my front teeth. I don’t mean a tiny speck mind you, I’m talking half a chicken!
Or, how about the time I walked out of the women’s room at church only to later discover, through the merciful kindness of a stranger, that my dress was tucked into my pantyhose! That is no urban myth people, it actually happened to me!
I could also tell you about the time a pair of my giant pregnancy granny panties got velcroed to the back of my sweater by static cling. Yep, walked through the whole mall like that!
Then there was the time I opened my wallet at the grocery checkout only to have a mangled old tampon, that had previously resided in the dark abyss at the bottom of my purse, roll out of my wallet, fall to the conveyor belt, and fling itself at the belly of the male checker! I still cringe and grab my head when I remember that one!
I can still recall the feeling of being covered, literally, neck to waist with projectile vomit from my 8-month-old while waiting for a plane at LAX, or mindlessly following my husband into the very busy men’s restroom at a truck stop. I could go on for hours, truly, but I don’t want to dwell on the humiliation, just the fact that God often uses strange, and, yes, sometimes humiliating experiences to work humility in our lives. In my case, I have taken refuge in humor to help drive those lessons home. My motto is “To err is human, but to be able to laugh at oneself is sublime!”
So, the next time you are praying for the fruit of the Spirit to be more evident in your life, don’t be surprised if God surprises you with his method of doing just that. I am of the firm opinion that God has a remarkably clever sense of humor.
Go ahead – laugh at yourself. Don’t take yourself too seriously. Look for the humor in each situation. Allow God to work His will in your life His way. You never know, that stranger that tells you that you have half a roll of toilet paper stuck to the bottom of your shoe just might turn out to be your new best friend. Or not.