On Sunday it was Father's Day. I got breakfast made by our older two and brought up to my office - it was really sweet.
But that wasn't the best bit. On Sunday morning at church we were praying for the Dad's and my five year old, Annabelle, came up to the front to say that God had given her a picture for the Dad's.
The picture was of a cup without water and then a big jug that was overflowing with water. She felt God was saying that we aren't asking for enough, there's more.
I haven't been able to get that out of my head.
We talk a lot about God being generous and without limit. But when it comes to actually living a life that expects God to show up and demonstrate that generosity regularly - I'm not so sure.
I'm sure there are lots of reasons but one I am aware of in my own life is that we don't know what to do with disappointment and delay. We stop expecting healing because we haven't seen it in a while when we've prayed for people. We pray for God to break into circumstances but we have too many experiences of not seeing things change to really believe it's going to make a difference. Our prayers become what feels like a shot in the dark.
It's hard to live with expectation when our experience of seeing the 'more' we long for is so limited. So we're faced with a choice. Do we concede that we are kidding ourselves and that God is not really a God of the impossible? Or do we start asking God to show up again and to reveal His power? Do we let Him in to heal our disappointment and the confusion of delay and courageously pray again?
Jesus tells an interesting story in the gospels. Luke records it like this: "And he (Jesus) told them a parable to the effect that they ought always to pray and not lose heart. He said, 'In a certain city there was a judge who neither feared God nor respected man. And there was a widow in that city who kept coming to him and saying, 'Give me justice against my adversary.' For a while he refused, but afterwards he said to himself, 'Though I neither fear God nor respect man, yet because this widow keeps bothering me, I will give her justice, so that she will not beat me down by her continual coming.' And the Lord said, 'Hear what the unrighteous judge says. And will not God give justice to his chosen ones, who cry to him day and night? Will he delay long over them? I tell you, he will give justice to them speedily. Nevertheless, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth?' Luke 18:1-18
There are so many things to unpick from what Jesus might be trying to say but to keep it really simple it helps me know what choice to make. It's the choice to not give up - to start asking God to show up again - it's the choice to pray again! Perhaps that doesn't answer all the mystery and disappointment and lack of experience of breakthrough in a neat, tidy way. In fact it doesn't answer it at all. But it does invite me into a place of faith, it invites me to put my unanswered questions aside and pray again. It invites me to ask for more. To increase my expectation for the God of the impossible showing up.
I'm reminded of John Wimber spending a year praying for and teaching on healing before seeing any breakthrough. I think about Heidi Baker praying for a significant time (I think also a year) before seeing God breakthrough and now seeing incredible healings. I think of friends who have seen deaf ears open on the fourth attempt at praying. It's not an easily explained theology but it is an invitation that there is more - if we have the courage to keep asking for and believing for it.
It's time we started expecting more.