“If you build it, they will come.” // “If you build it, they will come”// Ray Kinsella hears this voice and believes that he is to build a baseball field on his farm. These persistent words produce results from Ray as he builds that baseball field complete with lights for night games and bleachers for spectators.// Ray continually searches for the answer to the voice. He doesn’t care what others including his own wife think of him. He is determined to find out what the purpose of the baseball field is.// And at the end of the movie “Field of Dreams,” we see cars almost as numerous as the stars in heaven heading towards that “promised” baseball field because of Ray’s determination and persistence!
In today’s gospel text, the widow is just as persistent and determined as Ray. She will not take “no” for an answer.// She needs results.//And because the judge is worn down by her persistence and determination, he grants her plea.
Are we willing to be as persistent as Ray or the widow in our own prayers? // Or do we often expect an answer immediately---right this hour, minute or even second?// We all want God to answer us but often God grants our prayers in ways we don’t always expect// but are we willing to wait?
Patiently waiting for God to act is much easier said than done //especially in a society filled with high-tech gadgets that produce instantaneous results! // However beautiful and amazing things can happen when we take the time to wait for God to act!
One of the best examples for me happened during my January Term class at seminary. I was taking a class on Domestic Violence Against Women and Children. We spent the whole month touring different shelters, abuse centers, etc.// I remember one place in particular…Genesis house in Chicago! Genesis House is a home for women who have been living in prostitution. Genesis House takes these women off the street and helps them to get away from living this awful life. For them and their families, Genesis House has become a safe-haven for them….a new beginning.// However for these women’s families, Genesis House probably wasn’t what they were asking God for when they asked God to help their moms, sisters, wives, etc but in so many ways, Genesis House was a blessing in disguise for most of these families!
This blessing, in disguise, was a persistent and determined force that aided these women in escaping the clutches of prostitution.// One woman sat and told us her story. She told us of how her family kept asking her to leave this horrible life but she just couldn’t do it.// Until one day, Genesis House found her and brought her back to Genesis House. She spent the first few weeks living there without many privileges. One day her children called but she wasn’t able to take their call because she still had not earned that privilege so the Genesis House employee asked if she could take a message to their mother. They simply told the employee to tell their mom, “We are proud of you and love you dearly.” Immediately the tears fell from this broken woman’s eyes and within seconds, our entire J-term class was shedding tears with her. And as I look back on that moment, God blessed and healed her and her family, all whom waited patiently for God to act!
Now I’m not saying that this woman was blessed because she was living in prostitution//but what I am saying is that because her family waited and trusted God to act, the results were beyond their expectations!//Can you think of a time when God gave you results beyond your expectations?// How did that blessing help you to grow in your faith?//Did that blessing help you to continue to pray without ceasing and to never lose heart?
For me, my mom’s illness has been an event in my life that has helped me to continue to persevere in prayer and never lose heart.//Growing up, I know that I definitely struggled with her illness.// I remember asking God to take the illness away.// I remember asking many questions of God and they are best expressed in the words of this poem I wrote:
My heart is breaking
You seem so helpless,
And I want answers.
I want to know “Why You?”
I want to know “Why our family?”
I just simply want to know
Yet I still
Have no answers.
And without those answers,
I ache for all the pain,
I ache for God to tell me “Why?”
I ache in so many ways
But I mostly
Ache for the fact
That I call you “mom”
And that I am
Powerless to this illness
These powerful words are words that were written because I wasn’t willing to wait for God to act.//However over time, God’s response helped me to see that my mom’s illness would help me connect and start relationships with others who had experienced the same illness in their families.//What an amazing gift when we are willing to wait…on the Lord!
God acted for each and every one of us when God sent God’s Beloved Son to die on the cross for all of us. His death on the cross tells us of the magnificent love God has for all of God’s children, // a love that gives us the courage to continue on, persevere, and not lose heart.//So the next time we feel like giving up, remember that perseverance and determination does
pay off//just like they did for Ray and the widow in today’s gospel text.
Because of their persistence, they were able to move beyond their obstacles.// They were able to trust God and see that God has the power; a power that only God has the capacity to understand.
God uses God’s power to answer our prayers in ways we often don’t expect or even understand. In fact, I truly believe that we aren’t fully skilled to understand what God has planned for each one of God’s children.// A seminary classmate talks about how she was (and is) persistent in prayer and still lost her husband to cancer. She can’t fully understand why God took her husband from her yet she trusts God and continues to be persistent in prayer!
And so I leave you with these words from Christian music artist Aaron Shust, “ I am not skilled to understand what God has willed, what God has planned, I only know at his right hand stands one who is my Savior.” // And this Savior is the one who brings amazing blessings when we persevere…and wait on him!