by Donna E. Starr—
We live in a society of instant! Everything is instant. You push a button and your computer is on. You turn your phone on and it’s instantly available. You place something in the microwave and it’s instantly cooking. You turn your car on and you have instant transportation. Turn the radio on and there is instant music. Flip the light switch, instant light. (As long as the electricity bill was paid!)
We are conditioned to expect the instantaneous. We pray to God wanting instant results. As soon as we finish our prayer, we stand up and expect an instant answer to that prayer. When we take Him our deepest needs, wants, and desires, we expect instant results. However, God can use non-instant results to teach us a lesson, to make us realize that God’s timing is not our timing, that He knows the beginning to the end—and back again.
I found out last fall that my rent was going up, not by $50 or even $100 but by $200 a month. I am single and my budget did not allow for an extra $200. I began to pray with earnestness. I had been given until the first of October to indicate whether I planned to move and until the end of November to vacate, so I started looking for a new place even though I loved the area where I was living and didn’t want to move. Finally, I found a place I truly liked, but that complex didn’t have an apartment available. I was told they would keep me posted. Every so often I would check in, but nothing was available. Then, after much prayer, I did something I have never done before. I gave the manager at my apartment complex my answer: I would be moving. No place to go whatsoever.
I told friends I had taken a leap of faith. I think some thought I must be crazy! But the search for a new apartment was on full speed ahead. There was a complex next door to where I was living, but the apartments were even more expensive than the new rent. Meanwhile, I kept checking with the complex that I really liked. It seemed perfect. Good location, rent was workable—but never anything available. I checked with so many other places, but nothing.
I decided to stop in one last time on October 30—one month before moving day. Still nothing. I knew God had answered so many prayers before. He knew I needed a place to live. I didn’t understand why He hadn’t opened a door for me at that complex. I totally lost it on the way home, sobbing. I didn’t sleep well that night. I didn’t know what I was going to do. I never stopped praying, but I was feeling defeated. The prospects looked extremely dim. It didn’t seem like God was hearing or answering my prayers.
The next day, several apartment complexes showed up on Facebook. One of them was the one next door to where I lived. After work, in the pouring rain, I went next door again. To my surprise, they had an apartment available and the rent was less than what I was currently paying. (Apartments always work on supply/demand. A $1, 300 apartment one week might be down to $800 the next week.) I filled out the application, provided paystubs, and left my deposit. That evening I prayed and prayed, thanking God for the door He had opened. A day later, I got the confirmation: I would be moved by my deadline, and the rent was even lower than initially quoted!
I immediately thanked God. This was nothing short of an answered prayer. None of this would have happened if I had not placed my situation in His hands. Prayer works. Sometimes God does answer instantly, but other times, when it seems like prayers are not going higher than the ceiling, God is trying to teach us a lesson. We must always lean on and trust Him. We need to fully depend on Him. There is nothing we can do of ourselves, but when we have faith as small as a mustard seed, great things happen (Matthew 17:20).
My favorite Bible text has always been Romans 8:28: “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose” (NIV).
Donna E. Starr is a member of the Arlington Seventh-day Adventist Church in Arlington, Texas.