I was attending North Central University and it was my senior year. Also, I was poor. I had bus money to get to my inner city school where I was student teaching and that was about it. I had worked until 1am preparing lessons, but had no money or transportation to go out and get materials. As it was, I left my apartment at 5am to get the bus. (Some of you have much better “poor” stories than this, so I’ll stop there.)
I walked out of my apartment into the quiet city of Minneapolis. It was still dark, and I was so tired. Thankfully the freezing cold woke me up a bit. Amazed at the utter silence and peace of the snow-covered city, I began to chat with God. I told God that I needed glass bottles for my science lesson at school that morning!!, and that I really couldn’t do my lesson or be evaluated without them!!, and that my future career was hanging in the balance, and God if you really wanted to, you could have those glass bottles waiting for me at the bus stop!! Then I heard a laugh. Not aloud, but I got this mental picture of God laughing. WHAT? Again I prayed, “God…if you REALLY want to…they could be there waiting for me.” Then I chuckled at the absurdity. Why would God honor such a random petition? Then we laughed together, and God said to me, “Say it out-loud, so that when it happens, you’ll know it was me.” So I spoke out into the quiet city, “GOD! If YOU really want to do it, you can have those glass bottles waiting for me at the bus stop!” There. I said it. Out loud. Now I was a crazy street person just like all the rest, talking out loud to the invisible.
I saw the bus aproaching the stop and began to make a run for it, sluggishly in the snow. The bus pulled up and stopped just as I ran up. I saw a brown bag beside the trash-can at the bus stop, and in a single fluid movement, I scooped up the bag and stepped onto the bus. I sat down breathlessly and looked at my mystery bag. How disgusting. I picked up a bag by a city trash can! But there was God smiling again. I opened my bag, and there were 5 empty glass bottles. No caps. No paper lables. Not your traditional miracle, but I like it. I read a devotional from Dan Betzer’s Facebook today about faith, and it reminded me of this incident. Faith is the SUBSTANCE of things hoped for. (Hebrews 11:1 Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.) Those bottles, were real, and God’s REAL answer to a very specific request. Those bottles didn’t last, but here’s what did: a lovely moment smiling with my God, creater of the universe and provider of my every need. Something changed in me after that, and I haven’t prayed the same way since.
From teaching in snowy Minneapolis to being a missionary in mild Oaxaca, God continues to stretch and challenge my faith. That’s why sometimes I still get the giggles when praying for healing, or for an open womb, or for whatever we cry out to God for. I can see God, as I told a friend recently, “tickled pink,” to grant you the desires of your heart! By the way, this is shockingly, socially inappropriate. Good thing Jesus doesn’t care about that. I love the song we sing here in Mexico, for the redemption of this giant nation, “Si tuvieras fe como un grano de mostaza…” Matthew 17:20…for assuredly, I say to you, if you have faith as a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move; and nothing will be impossible for you.
My prayer career started out by praying for glass bottles; that was real and fun. In the last few years, I’ve started praying for couples to have babies; that got MORE real and WAY more fun! (What’s more tangible than a baby?) Now I’m praying (with many others), for revival for the nation of Mexico, for a Holy Spirit outpouring, and for the poor to inherit the Kingdom of Heaven. It’s an impossible request. Look at the dark and disturbing reports. How dare I even speak it?! Yet, I still can’t help remembering those glass bottles, and the smiling God who gave them to me…