“For now we see through a glass darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as I am known.” 1 Corinthians 13:12
One of the longest, most reoccurring prayers I have ever prayed is for my son to be able to speak. If I could heal just one aspect of his condition, if I could give him just one gift for his physical ailment, it would be the gift of speech. For years I prayed to God to give my son a voice, to allow him to be able to communicate.
To have a conversation with Jake is perhaps one of my greatest desires on earth, and just one of the things for me that will make heaven especially sweet. I have so many things I want to tell him and, more importantly, so many things I want to hear from his heart.
God has given me an answer to that prayer, but He has yet to give me the answer. Let me explain.
Here are some of the ways God has granted me an answer to my prayer:
• Some Important words: Jake can say “Momma”, “Dad-da”, “Maw-maw”, “Grand-dad” and “Ho-ho-ho” (Santa Clause). These are some of the words he uses on a daily basis. Yes, we hear about Santa Clause all year round.
• Some necessary signs: He can sign words like, “Jesus”, “Bible”, “shoes”, “play”, “please”, “sorry”, “candy”, “drink” and “eat”.
• Some beautiful singing: He loves to stand in church, or anywhere for that matter, with an open hymnal in hand and sing. His singing is one long baritone note that he can hold and repeat for a much extended period of time.
• Some powerful preaching: He also loves to carry a Bible with him (everywhere). He likes to stand with Bible open and pretend he is reading. Because he is standing, I assume he is preaching.
There are other “nonverbal” forms of communication Jake has developed over the years, like:
• The folding of the arms and the shaking of the head and the looking over his glasses for, “No way—not in this lifetime”.
• The raising of his arms in the air, jumping up and down and yelling loudly with a celebratory smile for, “YES! I really approve of this moment”.
• The hug, kiss and or the blowing a kiss for, “I love you” or “Goodbye”
Finally, there is God’s gift of computers. Jake uses a handheld computer with a picture touch screen that communicates just about any phrase you could think of. When talking on the phone with him you might hear a mechanical voice saying:
• “I love you”
• “I miss you”
• “I want to go to Maw-maw’s house”
This is the difference between AN answer to prayer and THE answer to prayer:
Our sovereign Lord has the ability to grant everything we ask for. But like any loving Father, He has more in store for us than what we could ever think to ask for. (Ephesian 3:20)
In His infinite wisdom, God answers our prayers with glimpses of the greatness to come. He allows us a foretaste of His glory by revealing a shadow of His blessings.
The full answers to our prayers and the full glory of His blessings will only come in eternity—but they will be there for an eternity. This loving anticipation keeps us from trusting in the temporal things by keeping us longing for the eternal things.
Now I will communicate with my son nonverbally, through sign language, a hand full of words and a computer. Then I will sit, talk, laugh and discover in deep, meaningful, God-glorifying conversation for an eternity.
The former is an answer to prayer; the latter is the answer to prayer.