Have you ever been told to use the side door, back door, or any entry that is not the normal way? Perhaps there was a surprise party or an event that needed a measure of secrecy. I’ve found that the “side door,” or surprise door as I call it, is one of the Lord’s favorite ways of answering prayers.
When we pray, we usually have an idea of how the Lord should answer. We mentally lay out our strategy for a good ending. It could be a dramatic healing or a big fat check that lands in our mailbox. And answers do come that way, just not that often. They frequently come in surprises we would never have dreamed of, through windows of the unexpected, or in patterns totally outside our trained brains. He’s a God of the startling.
I’m sure many girls in Jesus’ day dreamed of becoming the mother of the Messiah. They giggled at pajama parties and talked tirelessly of what it would be like to be chosen . . . fast forward the dreams: red carpet, the flashing of lights for pictures, a diamond crown, and their name on the covers of magazines. Surely the chosen golden girl would be famous and live the splendored life. And then Jesus came, born at tax time in a stable, and laid in a less than sterile trough. Shudder. God entered His world, His way, through His own side door. His entries and answers are so often shrouded with mystery and wonder.
Women’s author Lysa TerKeurst recently shared her testimony, and I happened to catch the clip. She had been admitted to the hospital’s emergency room in severe, traumatic pain. It didn’t let up for days. Tests revealed nothing, and morphine didn’t abate the pain. She prayed and cried and wondered where God was and why He seemed to be out to lunch. Did He really care? The doctors ran one last test and found that her intestines had dislocated from her abdominal wall. They told her that her anguish had saved her life. It was literally critical that her agony didn’t let up. Had the morphine covered her suffering, they would have sent her home, and she would have died. God’s silence as she writhed in sorrow was part of His answer. He let her suffer to save her, and His silence literally proved His love. No one saw any glory in her severe distress, but He did. Lysa was awakened afresh to the beauty in the intricacies of His entries.
The next time you wonder where your answer is, why it takes so long to hear from Him, or what’s going on with His lack of presence, please keep your eyes open and your faith strong. He’s probably working on a side door. And it won’t be in the corner where you’re likely staring. You might as well say with me,
Go ahead, Lord, use any venue You choose. I’m leaving all outcomes to You. Come in and answer, any way You choose.
On the evening of that day, the first day of the week, the doors being locked where the disciples were for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said to them, “Peace be with you.” (John 20:19).
This article was originally published in the PURE newsletter from Ladies Ministries UPCI.