Prayer, shoes, and doubt

I love this picture. Shoes off at the door. That’s how it always is in China.

A pile would accumulate, and cause my OCD tendencies to go batty with want to pair them up and place them in a nice neat line.
Though the picture is a typical scene at a Chinese door, it’s not a pile of shoes at the door of a home in China.

It’s a pile of toddler shoes, an answer to my prayers for my son. Without knowing the need I was praying for, three different ladies gave me several pairs of boy shoes over a span of a couple of months. My prayers were answered, abundantly answered.

And that’s how my life has been. Piles and piles of answers to prayer.

It hasn’t always been easy though, the answers don’t come in my time frame and they don’t always look like I think they will, but God has been gracious to me and has used prayer to build my faith.

When we moved to China, I remember being on my knees in the kitchen, my daughter kneeling next to me. It’s the moment I’ve anticipated for most of my life. The moment I get to hear my husband teach the bible to unbelievers and I’m determined to pray him through.

I just didn’t realize in that moment I would have my spiritual world flipped upside down so drastically.

It’s a funny thing to hear a person explain the bible to an unbeliever, to someone who has never even heard the name of Jesus. To hear those words, “Apple, Eve, tree & serpent.” fall upon fresh ears.

Doubt crept in. “Is this really what we are going to teach them?!” “How is this any different from their own superstitions?!”

Oh, I know it’s different. But there I am on that cold floor hearing him teach and I can’t help but wonder how far fetched this message sounds.

Doubt crept in and so deeply wove it ways into my mind that for about 2-3 more years I would barely be able to open my Bible. Me, the Missionary, not be able to read God’s word!

How humbling. How sad. Even now I tear up as I remember those dark dreary days of doubt, pretending I wasn’t struggling, yet struggling to pretend.

Is this what Paul meant when he talked about his thorn in the flesh? For surely, this doubt pierced my heart. It saddened me to question Jesus’s lordship. It pierced my heart for me to doubt Him whatsoever.

Every time I opened my Bible, doubt filled me. I gave up opening it anymore.

I reminded myself of 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18, “Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”

I could praise Him and shared His answers to prayer, but I could not study His word without doubt taking over and squeezing what little faith I had left. But I had prayer. And I clung to it.

I prayed day and night. I watched God answer those prayers and it washed over me like water on a dry land.

I kept praying and seeing God answer. Over the years, little by little I was able to read the Bible again. I was able to even teach again and then, without really noticing it, the doubt left and I was left with a long list of the many ways God answered my prayers in the midst of my great doubt.

And that’s the beauty of prayer isn’t it? Despite us, He answers. Abundantly. In His timing. In His ways. He answers.

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