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Friday, December 09, 2016

Answer to Prayers?

There's a signpost up ahead.

A friend asked, "What was the most remarkable answer to a prayer you've prayed?" I was stumped. There are so many remarkable answers to prayers I've seen I can't really choose. God has answered long nagging prayers, formal prayers, walking prayers, thought prayers and one word cries for help. One of the most memorable ones happened when my wife and I were running an intergenerational day care center in Tyler, Texas.

We'd been working hard that autumn to get the budget under control and to handle some personnel issues we had going at the time. There were three individuals in particular who were giving us a hard time in particular. We'd gotten the budget under control, but in doing so we took a little of the authority away from the folks who had gotten us into trouble in the first place. I'd gotten a grant to cover my own salary so the center wouldn't be on the hook for that. We revised the accounting system with another grant that gave us a consulting CPA. We were on our way to having a healthy cash reserve in order to move the center from the church facility we were then occupying into a new facility we were planning to build or purchase. 

The church was unhappy with us. They were worried about a recent incident at another church center and feared we could be sued if something like that happened with us.  Secondly, they had been carrying the financial overages for the center and couldn't why the books looked good but the center was unable to contribute rent to the church. Finally, one of the staff, a church member was sowing discontent in the congregation because she'd not been given the executive director job and I had.

In the middle of all of this, Sheila and I decided one Saturday afternoon in April to drive out to Caddo Lake where our daughter and son-in-law and my son were camping with friends. On the way, we drove past the day care center and saw three cars in the parking lot. It was our three disgruntled employees.

We though, "Oh, oh, this can't be good." I dropped by and sure enough the two department heads and the bookkeeper where huddled in the office. When we came through the door you never saw a guiltier looking bunch. When I asked them what they were up to, they all looked guilty and made vague excuses for being there. Sheila and I left after a few minutes and headed off across country for the lake. 

As we drove, we talked about the problem. Staff loyalties were divided and trouble was a-comin' to be sure and we both knew it. After an hour of talking about possible solutions, we couldn't find one. Firing the bunch would alienate the church because one of them was a member. The staff, meanwhile not realizing what was going on, would find it arbitrary and there were 26 women working there and me the only male. Just so you know, the alpha dog thing doesn't work among groups of humans. When you have 26 female employees, you're just outnumbered and there's nothing you can do about it. 

So we took it to God. I drove and Sheila prayed because I'm better at the one and she's better at the other. In God's work you learn to stick to the talents he's given you.  After we prayed, we drove along quietly for a time. Finally, my wife turned and asked, "You got anything yet?"

I shrugged. " The only thing that comes to my mind is, 'Be still and know that I am God.'"

"That's funny," Sheila answered. "I had that same thought. I prayed all night about that and that's what I kept getting over and over all night long."

"It's going to be tough to do basically nothing," I shook my head.

We drove on along this tiny two-lane backwoods East Texas road for a few more minutes in silence, me thinking, this is one problem that's going to take some action. If I didn't get ahead of this little revolt, the whole thing could come apart. 

Then suddenly my eyes were drawn to a pretty little white country church along the road up ahead. It had one of those message board signs out front and I kept my eyes on it as the words became readable. In big black letters it said, "Be still and know that I am God."

I did a double-take. "Did you see that?" I asked incredulously. Sheila turned and looked hard at me, then quietly nodded.

"I think we've had as clear an answer as we're going to get," she laughed.

You're always a little quiet when God has spoken to you that clearly. We drove on to the lake and had a lovely day with the kids. On the way back, we thanked God for his answer. Monday, we went back to work and did what we should have done, just like any normal day. Our three revolutionaries didn't say much for the next few days until it became obvious that the wrath of Tom was not going to fall upon them.

Sheila and I remained still and let things work out. Within three months, the childcare director was offered a better paying job, the bookkeeper quit without warning and the titular adult director quit suddenly. I gave her two weeks severance pay.  All were replaced with very nice people who helped us a lot. The center lasted another year, but economic factors forced us to close. When we did, we were a happy group who hated to be going our separate ways. I still have friends from our time there.

As it turned out, God solved our problem for us. All we had to do was be still and know who was God and who was not!

 © 2016 by Tom King


Maggie B. said...

That's an awesome answer to prayer! God is so good. I'm easily distracted I suppose, because I'm familiar with Psalm 46:10 I had to look up Psalm 48:18 and was intrigued to find it doesn't exist. Now I'm beyond curious to know about the sign maker and the story behind it. So many questions. Thank you again for the story.

Tom King said...

Thanks I missed that. To avoid confusion I have fixed the sign. - Tom