By Charllote Gambill Scanlon
Unless you can lift the level of your thinking to be somewhere in the proximity of God’s, there’s a good chance you are going to miss some of his answers for your life. That’s because he is also the God of ‘zero gravity answers’.
How many of us have cried out to God for an answer, yet at the same time have decided what that answer is probably going to look like? We ‘best guess’ how and through whom it is going to arrive in our world. Yet the bible clearly teaches us that God’s thoughts and ways are higher than ours.1 I sometimes meet people who feel disappointed that God doesn’t answer their prayers; they are convinced that heaven is silent when they call out. But in reality, heaven is not silent, it is more often the case that they are listening on the wrong frequency. They need to ‘tune in’ to God’s higher thoughts and ways.
I believe that if we can lift the level of our thinking and open our minds to receiving a ‘God answer’ rather than a preconceived one, many more of us would feel answered by heaven. God is not into withholding answers. But he is committed to his will being done in our lives rather than our own.
Where are you looking?
A while ago my little girl, Hope, had a fascination with mummy’s car keys. In fact, anyone’s keys would do. She loved to play with them. Over the course of several weeks the same situation kept happening in our home: I would make a mad dash for the door, running late again! I would go to grab my car keys, which I always leave in the same place, and to frantically search the drawer, only to discover they had vanished into thin air again! Over the course of several weeks we had lost my main set of keys, the spare keys, my husband’s set of keys, and we were now on the spare-spare set! I searched all over the house, madly looking on top of the drawers, on top of the sideboard, on the sofa, on the shelf in the porch. Then it dawned on me, I stopped for a moment and had a thought, ‘Hope couldn’t reach the sideboard, she wasn’t high enough to even see over the top of the sofa, never mind put keys there. So why am I looking there!’
Enlightened, I restarted my search but this time I looked at a whole new level for an answer to the drama of the missing keys. I got into the mind of my daughter and started to lower my eye line to the places she would be drawn to. I began to look in places a lot more in keeping with the answer I sought. Within a few moments of changing my view, I found not only one set of keys but five, all hidden away in the seat of her favourite toy car!
This story illustrates where many of us get it wrong on our journey through life. We pray to God almighty, the all powerful, all knowing, King of Kings and then go and look in the predictable, safe, comfortable places for our answer. Yet it says in Ephesians 3:20 that God can do ‘immeasurably more than we can ask or imagine’. So why reduce God to a ‘band aid’ of an answer; a short-term, temporary fix? We pray about our financial problem and expect the answer to be money or, a cheque in the post. But what if God doesn’t want to answer that way? What if he has another answer beyond where you are currently looking? Are you open to such a ‘zero gravity answer’?
The people of Israel came to believe that the provision of a king would solve all their dysfunction as a nation. They were adamant that it was the answer they needed and insisted on this ‘band aid’ quick fix solution. Even when the prophet Samuel made them aware of the trouble this would ultimately cause them, they still wanted their answer.2 They had made up their minds and were closed to any other answers from God. I don’t want a ‘band aid’ answer when God has something far more awesome for my life and destiny. Why settle for Saul when David is on the horizon?
God’s Answer Makes a Demand
In 1 Kings 17:7-24 we read about Elijah and the widow at Zarephath, both of whom were facing famine and looking for God’s provision in their time of need. I am sure that of all the places Elijah may have thought could be his place of provision, Zarephath was way down the list. It was a small town a long way from his home. Then, once there, the last home he would have asked for help from was that of a widow who was so desperate, she was planning a last meal for herself and her son, after which they expected to die. Yet God’s choice sees what we cannot see.
Equally, I am sure the widow didn’t expect the answer to her need to come in the form of another mouth to feed! This was a multiplication of her problem; she moved from having two hungry mouths to feed to three. This was worsening her situation. Or was it? The widow certainly saw it this way initially. Remember, God’s answers don’t necessarily come how you think they should.
Yet, what she did next is where I want us to look and learn. As she decided to let go of her preconceived ideas and help the prophet out, she pushed past her fear of the unknown and the demand this placed on her, and gave God something to work with. She stopped looking for a quick fix and trusted Elijah’s words that God knew what they needed and would provide. Likewise, I have found that God’s answers always demand something from me first. They come with a bigger ‘ask’ from my life.
Some years ago when my husband and I were struggling with our infertility battle, one Sunday God instructed me to pray for another couple who I didn’t even know about their desire to conceive a child. I would love to say I obeyed instantly and thought this was a great idea! But for a while I felt misunderstood by God. I thought, why should I pray for them about the very thing I am desperate for? After years of infertility I felt that any miracle should be in my world before theirs. I was struggling with the demand God placed on me to help someone else. Yet I obeyed, the lady conceived and I didn’t until much later. But I learned something that day. God’s answers make a demand on you; they ask something of you; they are never just about you getting your needs met.
When Jesus was on his way to heal Jairus’ daughter, he delayed in order to heal the woman with the issue of blood.3 I believe that delay was a great test for Jairus. Could he let what he needed for his daughter be delayed so that someone else got their miracle too? For me the question was whether I could give away my prayers so that others were helped, not just me.
And what about Noah? Why not just build a canoe for himself and his wife! No. God didn’t want Noah’s answer to stop at Noah, he wanted him to be open to building an ark sized answer for more than just his immediate personal needs.
The Bigger Picture
Returning to Elijah and the widow. God’s answer demanded that she be willing to give the little she had and this took her closer to a long-lasting answer, not a short-term quick fix. And it is the same for us too. The demand within God’s answer takes us closer to those ‘missing keys’; closer to the neighbourhood where God’s true answer resides. That day she opened her home and their immediate needs were met, but what happened next is what excites me the most. We read that sometime later her son died. Distraught, she turned to Elijah who helped her by raising him from the dead.
God’s answer is always about the bigger picture. We ask for what we think we need now, but God answers based on what he knows we need for both now and the future. That day God didn’t just want to give the woman and her son food to live on, he wanted to place the seed of a future miracle in their lives, a miracle they didn’t even know at that point they were going to need; the miracle of her son being brought back from the dead. Who knows how long the boy had been sick with a life threatening illness that would require more than food to cure. It was going to take the miracle power of heaven which the prophet could access on the widow’s behalf. Her answer was in the relationship with Elijah that she could have ignored had she not been willing to go with God’s zero gravity answer and feed him in the first place.
What are you willing to do in order to receive the ‘God answer’ you seek? I don’t want to just have bread when I am going to need a far greater miracle later on. God gave that widow a long term answer; it wasn’t bread – that would have been a ‘band aid’ quick fix – instead she was now able to call on the prophet because of her responsiveness in his time of need.
We must examine afresh where we look for God’s answers to our church, ministry and family situations. We need to lift the level of where we are looking and stop settling for quick fix solutions. God wants us to be a people big enough to build an ark, big enough to wait for David, and big enough to feed a prophet in our time of famine so that he can get his zero gravity answers from heaven to earth. So today, I challenge you. What are you asking God for and have you opened your mind for some zero gravity answers? They are out there. So change where you’re looking, and don’t be afraid, because God’s answers are always far better than anything we can come up with. What have you got to lose!
1 Isaiah 55:9
2 1 Samuel 8
3 Luke 8:41-56