Not all prayer requests carry the same weight. There are everyday prayers, call them skiffs , and then there are rarely seen ones, like Spanish galleons that cross the oceans. The skiffs carry coal into the harbor almost daily. The galleons remain out of sight, yet when they do come, appear low in the water, laden with provision.
For the past three years, Ginnette and I have waited for the mast of the Spanish Galleon to come into view for our son, who has struggled to land a job in his field of study. It seems no amount of gut-wrenching supplication moves the ship any closer to harbor. We wait. God is silent. Our son suffers.
I often remind myself that God is never so big, as when he answers so small. One night back in New York, I climbed the stairs to what I called my crow’s nest, a walk-in attic with no insulation. I was nursing a pounding head ache. I knelt before a candle and lit the wick. The pain matched each heartbeat, and I couldn’t think, let alone pray. So, I spoke aloud, “Lord, would you take away the pain…please?”
That was weird, I thought, and started laughing. That night faith grew in a place I hadn’t expected. The skiff-sized answers are special, because they come at just the right time, to encourage us, or let us see through a crisis, or even start believing again. But Spanish galleon requests are the stuff that keep us aching, uncertain, and unknowing. Someone told me recently that faith is contingency. I noodled over that for a while, began to see his point. “Now faith is being sure of what we hope for, and certain of what we do not see.” Ah, there it is…
We need skiffs to warm our faith, keep hope alive, and remind us, that as we wait for the Spanish Galleon prayers to come into view, God is not indifferent.
Are you watching for a mast? Have you waited so long for an answer, that you wonder what in the world God’s up to? I would love to know, so we can pray together.
These kinds of requests cause faith to shiver in the icy wind of long waiting. To be honest, I made a mistake. I had expected a skiff sized answer to a galleon request. This mast which sailed away what feels like a lifetime ago, will indeed bring the provision of its purposes back to safe harbor, for both Garrett and us! The size of this request steel’s our heart for endurance, pulverizes pride, infecting every aspect of life, so that this one favored wound, injects humility into every other request, and confession.
What do I remind myself? ‘You were created to identify with pain. Unless you see this through, you will never watch your son marvel at the mast coming into the harbor. Without this, he may have settled for a faith that looked only for skiffs.’
What do I tell my son? ‘Even though you do not have faith enough to see this truth, I will help carry it with you. I want to suffer with you, like the Son of Man did for me, when He bore so much uncertainty on the cross. The Galleon might be on the high seas, or it may be just a moment away. But together we wait, and believe God is the author of all Galleons, and skiffs.’
So, here’s to a great skiff-filled day, but with one eye to the horizon.