It was flooding in the heartland. As the flood waters were rising, a man was on the stoop of his house and another man in a row boat came by. The man in the row boat told the man on the stoop to get in and he’d save him. The man on the stoop said, no, he had faith in God and would wait for God to save him. The flood waters kept rising and the man had to go to the second floor of his house. A man in a motor boat came by and told the man in the house to get in because he had come to rescue him. The man in the house said no thank you. He had perfect faith in God and would wait for God to save him. The flood waters kept rising. Pretty soon they were up to the man’s roof and he got out on the roof. A helicopter then came by, lowered a rope and the pilot shouted down in the man in the house to climb up the rope because the helicopeter had come to rescue him. The man in the house wouldn’t get in. He told the pilot that he had faith in God and would wait for God to rescue him. The flood waters kept rising and the man in the house drowned. When he got to heaven, he asked God where he went wrong. He told God that he had perfect faith in God, but God had let him drown.
“What more do you want from me?” asked God. “I sent you two boats and a helicopter.”
This is what comes to mind when I read the passage from Matthew. Nearly every time. On the surface, the joke is a God answering prayer story. Go a little deeper and I see God working very specifically and intentionally in our lives using other folks to help us help ourselves rely on God. This is what I hear from Jesus when he says,
…for I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me,36I was naked and you gave me clothing, I was sick and you took care of me, I was in prison and you visited me
God answers prayers often by using His people to help His people trust Him. God at work and in control. Letting go and letting God. It is easy for me to see this in the Gospel, in the joke and even, in other people’s lives.
In fact, seeing how God answers prayers in other people’s lives is one of things I feel think I have been called to do. It is the way my heart and mind work when in God’s Word, when my heart and mind are intentionally grounded in His will – ever in search of connecting dots, seeking and remaining still to hear what the Spirit is saying. That faith-based connect-the-dots lens opens my eyes, ears, all my senses to know God answers prayer.
Especially in the lives of people I am relationally connected to and with. I see how God reaches out to them, how God answers the ‘show me the way,’ prayer, the ‘help me out of this and into that,’ prayer, the ‘I want to trust you, God, and not try to control the outcome,’ prayer, the ‘save me,’ prayer.
Answering my prayers? In this, I am not as clear hearted and minded. Have boats, helicopters and people been sent to save and direct me that I haven’t seen?