unanswered prayers, unexpected blessings

today in church i was reminded (a reminder i needed) of some ways God has answered--and moreso, not answered--prayers in the past few years, and his provision for us.

senior year of college, B and i prayed hard, so very hard, every day, that i would get accepted into Vanderbilt's mfa program. we had just learned that our plans to move to his hometown for him to work with his grandfather weren't going to work out--and just weren't right for him in the first place--and we felt so lost! we had no idea what we needed to do, where God wanted us. so we prayed that He would take us out of our comfort zone, show us where he wanted us to be, and, of course, that i would get into Vandy.

i had lots of daydreams about the wonders of going to Vandy. working with kate daniels and mark jarman, living in Nashville, being close to family (but not too close), a very white-picket-fence type of daydream.

i got waitlisted at Vandy. they only take 3 poets a year, and i was #4 on the list. i was disappointed, but still praying hard that a poet would drop out and that i could take their place.

then i got a call i never thought i would get--Robert Pinsky telling me that i'd been accepted to BU! it had been a long shot school for me--when i applied and they sent me an information packet about the school, i promptly kicked it under our couch, thinking "Yeah Right, like they'll ever accept me!"

it wasn't what we were expecting, or praying for, but after a few weeks of prayer about it, we knew that Boston was where we needed to be. besides the practical things--it holds more prestige than Vandy, had 2 prior poet laureates, full paid scholarship, opportunity to work one on one with Louise Gluck, it being only a year long, etc--we had such a peace about it, there was no doubt. we knew we weren't Supposed to stay so close to home, forever. God was wanting to take us out of our comfort zone, just as we'd prayed.

we went to Boston over spring break to check out the school and so B could job hunt. in the middle of sitting in on Pinsky's poetry class, i get The Call. Mark Jarman, calling to accept me into the Vanderbilt program because #3 had dropped out.

what timing! if i had had that call a month prior, i would've accepted instantly, and missed out on all the amazing things God had for us in Boston! though i had wanted an answer as soon as possible, God had other plans, better plans for us.

Boston was a wonderful experience for us--we learned to depend on each other in a way that we wouldn't have if we'd stayed somewhere comfortable, close to home. we learned a different culture, the way things look outside of the southern baptist bubble. we faced financial difficulties, cultural difficulties, homesickness--and oh how much we grew! i do not have a doubt in my mind that we would have missed out on that level of spiritual and personal growth if we'd stayed in the south.

things weren't easy in boston. we faced another unanswered prayer--B had a degree in business and hoped to go into banking. and it just so happens, we graduated the same year that all the banks were going bankrupt. despite that, we prayed so hard that he would find a banking job in Boston. God never allowed it to happen. near the end of my program, we discovered why--B was called to music ministry. if he had gotten the job he wanted, i don't know if we would've ever dropped everything to go to seminary, if we would've ever left Boston at all. B might not be doing what he was made to do--lead others in worship--if God had given us what we wanted at that time.

all that to say, i am so glad that i was reminded of these things at church today. we have been praying very hard lately that God provide a full-time music ministry job for B, as soon as possible. and i know that He will, eventually--he brought us thus far and i have no doubt that he has a church in mind for us to serve at--but what i have struggled with is timing.

i want it Now, but it might not be God's intention to give it to us right now, even with the baby on the way. But, what i've failed to see the past few weeks, is that God not giving it to us now doesn't mean that he doesn't have something wonderful--something much better than i've dreamed up--planned for us.

and i can wait, peaceful, in that hope.

Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. { Colossians 3:15 }


  1. God's pretty amazing like that!

    Just two weeks ago, God called Cody into full-time ministry as well. We'll be heading to seminary soon, possibly in the fall.

    I, too, have seen a pattern from looking back over our prayer lives. No matter what we pray, or how He answers, I know He always has the very best in mind for us.

  2. LOVE it! I am learning, too. Sometimes it's so hard to understand God's timing...but looking back on seasons I struggled through, since coming out on the other side, God worked things out so much better than I would've imagined! My most recent realization of this is God bringing us to Florida for what we thought would only be a couple of months. Now God's got me plugged into the Children and Youth ministry as a leader, and women's ministry at our church. I never would've expected that! I thought a job at bath and body works was what I wanted, and then God opened up a job that is my dream job!

    Praying for you to find contentment in His timing, as I pray for myself to do the same.

  3. Thanks y'all, its encouraging to know that i'm not the only one that struggles with this--i feel like such an Israelite, God teaching me the same lesson Again and Again, and how i so quickly forget all the good things he has done for me, even in what he Hasn't given me!

  4. For me, personally, I believe that trials bring you together just as much as a change of locale - in the two and a half years we've been married, we've experienced a miscarriage, both of us being unemployed at the same time, one of us getting laid off at Christmas, setting aside our dreams to work. I don't think you have to move far away to grow spiritually, or leave the South. I think the battlefield can actually be even harder closer to home. But that's just my opinion. :)