I want you to stop what you’re doing and go read Sean Dietrich’s new post, The Kid. For real. The man writes all kinds of things. Mostly, stories about real people. And sometimes, more than once or twice, about people encountering something special. Alright, now go read it before I say anything more – I’ll be here waiting.
Did you read it?
What did it make you feel? Moved? Uncertain? Comforted? Unsettled?
It left me a little teary. Stories like this always do. Except, I used to doubt them more, because I wasn’t there to see it, or know the character of the teller, or see honesty in their eyes. But some things have happened since then that have eased my doubt. There’s still some healthy skepticism, sure, when the details are wonky or there’s sensationalism, but mostly I don’t hesitate to reach out and hold onto stories like these.
A couple years ago I was praying. I’d just had a sizeable writing rejection. I was questioning the rationality of such a winding endeavor: writing, submitting, getting accepted, getting rejected. Hearing from writers ahead of me that this journey is a journey, and that the payoff is questionable. I was wondering if I was wasting my time, which I guess for me at the time meant, I was going to be writing into the void for my whole life without much of a return. I was praying about this for weeks. Maybe months. A merry-go-round of prayers, asking God, “am I getting this wrong? Is this writing thing for me? Should I call it quits?”
And, well, what I want to tell you is, He answered the prayers.
But before I tell you how, I need to make some disclaimers. Firstly, I have resisted writing this story. Telling it feels . . . vain, honestly. And that makes me uncomfortable. But despite that, it’s worth the telling. I know this because every time I read a story like this, I feel amazed. I feel the closeness of God. Because stories about what God has done for other people have a power to encourage our own selves intimately. To remember what He has already done for us, what He might do yet, and that He sees us. And cares.
Sometime after these months of praying, I went to the park. It had been a long time since I’d spent any real time reading the Bible, and I was kind of doggy-paddling through life. Definitely not butterfly-stroking. Just the barely-swimming kind of wrist movement required for living, neck strained above the water line.
There was a wedding happening at the park that day, so it was bustling when I got there. Tuxedoed guys everywhere, photographers meeting up, and also the usual dog-walkers, friends, moms with strollers. I always go for the secluded benches. The ones tucked into trees or bushes, under a veranda, in a weird dead-end of a path. Somewhere I’m not very seen, so I can stare into space while I think or pray and not look slightly crazy.
I ended up having to take a front-row bench to the pavilion, where all the wedding rush was taking place. I did get some reading and praying in, but I started people-watching before too long. Two young women passed by, both blond, chatting happily. Two men saddled with camera bags, clothed in black, shook hands and greeted one another. There was a man walking a pet goose.
After a while, the two blonds circled back around. One of them stepped toward me.
“Hi,” she said, peeking toward the bible on my lap. “Are you a Christian?”
I said I was.
This was enough for her, because then she said, “Sometimes I get these nudges from God to tell someone something.”
(At this point I was girding my loins for come what may. I’d already slapped a plastic smile across my face in case this was total nonsense, because my face has not been known to lie.)
She continued. “Today He told me that your gift will spread farther than you can imagine. Like a dandelion, whose seeds spread.”
She went on to actually answer another, separate prayer that I’d been praying, but I won’t get into that. I’m not sure what my face said at that point, but I can promise you it wasn’t lying. Because I knew this was God’s answer. And I was astonished that He’d replied.
The point of all this is, God sees you. Really, actually sees you. And He cares. Like, really cares. He knows about that rotating prayer, the one that’s starting to get tough because it’s been on the spit for so long. Maybe He won’t send a blond in a park to answer your prayer, but then again, maybe He will. Either way, He’s so close you could touch Him.
Trust your prayers are in good hands.