I’ve heard that God always answers prayers. Sometimes the answer is no. Sometimes, he says yes in ways that seem like a no.
During a family vacation in the Pacific Northwest, one of the things I wanted to see was an orca.
We heard stories of a mama and her baby being spotted in Puget Sound. We kept our eyes peeled on the ferry ride to Victoria. Our vacation home was on a bay on the Olympic Peninsula and every wave in the distance seemed like it could be a killer whale in the process of surfacing.
We never saw one. We could have booked a sightseeing tour, but time and weather and the ages of our kids conspired against us. Maybe next time.
As I have reflected on this minor disappointment, and through the act of creating this painting, something occurred to me. God knew I wanted to see an orca, but because he knows me so deeply, he also knew why I wanted to see one, before even I did.
I had to stop and ask myself, why did I want to see an orca in the wild?
I wanted to experience God’s creation in a powerful way.
I wanted to see something I’d never seen before.
I wanted to have a remarkable experience with my children.
I wanted a neat encounter with an animal.
As it turns out, I did all of those things, and I never saw one orca.
I marveled at the breathtaking vistas of Hurricane Ridge.
Our vacation home was on a beach filled with thousands of crabs. Never saw anything like that before.
Between our mountain hike, the ferry rides, the view from the Space Needle and a spin on Seattle’s Great Wheel, there was no shortage of remarkable experiences to be shared with my kids.
And feeding some harbor seals with a $2 bag of fish heads was a pretty neat animal encounter.
I didn’t get what I asked for. But somehow, I still got what I wanted.
Time and time again in my life, I didn’t get things that I asked for.
I thought I wanted to marry a brunette. God knew what I really wanted was a beautiful, smart, and thoughtful wife who believed in me. He also made her blonde.
I wanted to use my art to make a living and shine light and goodness in the world. I asked for it in the form of being a professional syndicated cartoonist. That never materialized. But here I am, using my art to make a living and shine light and goodness in the world in a way that I never could have imagined but I am excited to say is even better.
Sometimes we miss the answer to our prayers because we’re looking in the wrong place.