Wednesday, June 25, 2014

" tax!"

That’s what it says in my Bible (the one Pastor Brown gave me): “Pray…Believing.” Those two words of advice made an eternal difference in his life, and it was the one thing he wrote in the Bible when he inscribed it over to me.  Well, today I got to see this in action. It was an amazing day – mostly for what the Lord taught me in it.
Today there was an outing planned for the residents: we were going to Alki Beach in West Seattle for a picnic. The two youngest boys and I were accompanying our special resident friend, Josef, and there were five others: two in wheelchairs and three walkers.  Alki is a nice beach – there’s a long promenade with separate lanes for bikes and walking, a huge seawall, a sandy beach, and plenty of convenient benches.  The only problem was…it was supposed to rain.  The prediction was for 68 degrees, mostly cloudy, with a 60% chance of rain.
Now, here in Seattle, one thing the weather does reliably well is rain.  If the forecast is for sunshine, it is quite likely to be wrong, but the only possible error in a rainy forecast is that it usually rains more than predicted.  I started praying as soon as I knew about the outing, as I always do.  But when I found out the forecast I changed my usual prayer.  Always before, when we were taking Josef or the residents out, I prayed “Lord, whatever You want to do is fine, just please don’t let it rain.”  And it never has rained, though it has been cool and cloudy every time.
This was uncanny – another outing day where rain was the major forecast.  I decided to pray differently.
“Lord,” I said, “I’m trusting You for something bigger this time.  We’re taking the residents to the beach and we need sunshine.  Not just 'no rain' – a bright, sunny day.  Warm too.”  And then I added in some Old Testament stuff, just in case:  “And I’m going to tell everyone I prayed for sun and I’m trusting You for it, so it’s Your name that’s on the line here.”
So I crossed my mental arms and nodded.  That said it.  And then I started reminding myself to trust Him. And I was doing pretty well, even when the weather forecast looked more and more alarming.   I could honestly say I trusted Him completely…and then I woke up this morning, looked outside and saw that it was raining.  Not just misting either.  A real rain, complete with thick ominous clouds and 50 degree temps.  It was a huge let-down.  I didn’t even know whether to go down to the Community Care Center (CCC), because I figured we wouldn’t go.  But then, as it came near the time for us to leave, I heard the voice of Pastor Brown. He's always telling me “No, no, no!  You’ve got to pray….believing!
I understood how that worked in theory.  However, it is not the way I usually operate.  I confess that my usual MO is “Pray for what you want…say 'but Thy will be done'...and then prepare for all contingencies.”  By that point I was all packed.  I had lunches for myself and the kids, wet wipes, kites and a Frisbee, a couple umbrellas, first aid kit, camera, and water bottles for all of us and Josef.  I was ready.  But was that really Praying…believing?  It was easy to see how it would operate when the outcome of the day was still unclear.  But what did Pray…believing mean when it was fifty degrees and I could stick out my hand and feel the pouring rain?
I gave it some thought.  And prayed “Alright, Lord, I’m going to go down there to the CCC, trusting You for sunshine.”  But I had that niggling feeling that it wasn’t enough.  But what else was there?  Finally, I decided to put my money where my mouth was.  I took the umbrellas out of the outing backpack and put a tube of sunscreen in, watching the rain dripping from the eaves.
“There, Lord. That’s all I’ve got. I’m trusting You for sun. And I’m believing.”
Herman the Bus Driver was doubtful.  “Weeeeellllll, we might be eating on the bus today,” he said, looking at the lowering clouds.
“Nope,” I said.  “I prayed about it and asked the Lord for sun, and I’m trusting Him.  Look – I brought sunscreen.”
Everyone was skeptical as we loaded up the bus, with their sweaters and jackets and long pants.  And as we started to drive, with the windshield wipers swiping the rain away intermittently, it was not easy to keep believing.  Herman kept glancing at me with concern in the rearview mirror as he drove, and I kept reminding him that we were going to have sun. And ever time, he said "I believe you."
And then, halfway across the West Seattle Bridge…the clouds just evaporated.  Really. One minute the sky was leaden and weepy and the next minute there was not a cloud in sight. It was that fast. Herman nearly drove off the bridge.  And the weather held - we couldn’t have had a better day. The sun stayed out, it was quite warm with a cool breeze off the ocean, and the few clouds were puffy and white and very friendly.  Herman’s comment, “Hallelujah plus tax!” We even needed the sunscreen – one of the ladies started to turn pink on the back of the neck.  
The boys flew kites, picked up sea creatures to show the residents, played in the sand, and generally horsed around.  The residents talked and watched the boats and ate their sack lunches. The only glitch in the otherwise-perfect day was that the kitchen, in their ultimate wisdom, sent us six puddings and two spoons, which made life interesting in the dessert arena.
I pushed Josef up and down the promenade while the little boys splashed in the waves, and we took in the sights and checked out the plantings. It was a fantastic day, and all the way home I was singing praises to the Lord for the sunshine, the fun outing, and all He had taught me in it.
Hallelujah plus tax!