Friday, October 24, 2008

Have You Seen This Dog?

This is Edward, a beloved, dachsund puppy sent from a kind-hearted friend in Berlin when Jack was born. At first Jack called him My Little Puppy, but just over a year ago, I don't know why, Jack decided to give him a proper name. (It's sad, I know, but for lack of creativity on my part all our kids' stuffed animals have been called by what they are: Duck, Donkey, Elephant, Teddy, Lamby, etc. Oh, except for the kitty cats which are affectionately known by the sound they make: Mao.) Since then Edward has been Jack's constant companion and essential snuggle buddy at bedtime. As you can see from the photograph, Edward even tagged along when Jack and Sophie raced around in their super capes. Edward has been to Sainsbury's, to church, to school and even to downtown London...

You already know what I'm going to say, don't you? Edward went missing about a month ago. He was last seen under the table at supper, but somehow, between tidy-uptime, bathtime and bedtime he disappeared. We searched high and low, in every room of the house, in every cupboard and every drawer, beneath and behind every piece of furniture... Jack handled it better than I thought he would, to be honest, but every couple days he'd say: We really need to find Edward.

Of course, on top of the sentimental factor, not knowing what had happened to Edward was driving me crazy! I hate when things go missing and can't really rest until they're found. In my desperation, I even got online to see if I could find a look-alike replacement, but no! It didn't exist. The company who made him seemed to have vanished as completely as Edward himself.

(Big sigh.)

So what to do? It may sound silly, but I prayed about it. Something along the lines of: Lord, I know that You know exactly where Edward is at this very minute. We've exhausted our ideas of where to look and are tired of rechecking the same old places with no new results. Will You please show me where he is? I need You to lead me to the place that we've obviously overlooked. It's such an insignificant thing, I know, but it would be a comfort to Jack and a relief to me.

This morning I looked around our dining room/playroom, mentally checking off the places we'd already searched, trying to think of a logical (but not normal) place for Edward to be. Somehow, my thoughts wandered over to Jack's guitar, zipped up in its vinyl carrying bag. I pulled it from its place, snugly tucked between the fireplace and the kids' toy cupboard, and sure enough, there was a big, soft lump protruding from within the front zipper pocket. I unzipped it and found Edward, a bit squashed but happily with us once again. Hooray!

And: Whew! Another answer to prayer. Silly or not, as answered prayers go, this experience got me thinking about other, more serious, times in my life when certain things have seemed "lost" to me: Trusting God to provide for the next step: college, jobs, financial support for ministry overseas, new friends in each new place He's taken me to, etc... Wondering as I turned 30 where in the world my husband was? I felt for sure that he was out there somewhere and knew I hadn't met him yet... Believing God for a miracle in the life of a family member not yet walking with the Lord... Waiting for news: a friend's diagnosis, the birth of a baby, the resolution of myriad situations out of my control...

I'm so grateful for all the times God has answered my prayers. The challenge, for me, is to live now, before the answer comes, in the freedom, joy and confidence I'll have afterward. Not all prayers are answered the way I'd like, of course. Friends aren't always healed, and to be honest, the lost aren't always found. But God's goodness isn't dependent on whether or not I get my wish. Sometimes things turn out differently than I'd hoped. Unfairly. Even wrongly. But my prayers are still answered. I may not understand it at the time, but I believe that God can make even these things into something beautiful, something beneficial in His divine economy.

That hope keeps me going in times of real struggle -- not the Edward type of thing, but when serious circumstances look bleak, when there's no news of progress in a particular situation and all I can see ahead is a big, black hole. I hope-against-hope because I really do trust that God knows what's going on. I really do believe that He's in control. And I believe I'll eventually have the clarity and understanding that He already has. So whether I can see it or feel it for myself, right now, I know that the answer is on its way, in His timing. It's real, it's just not here yet. This is what it means to walk by faith.

Thanks, Edward, for reminding me of this Truth. (P.S. Hey buddy, I'm glad you're back!)

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