Take a seven year old boy, have him lie awake at night contemplating his salvation, and it will not be a surprise if he hears the voice of God telling him to be baptized. And he will be baptized. Take that same boy a few months later and put him in a summer Little League baseball uniform, and he will be a boy that prays. And if he prays, he will learn a thing or two about God.
So let him pray before every game that his team will win. And let his team win every single game until the final championship. And let that boy pray with confidence that his team would win the championship. Then let his team lose. He will wrack his little brain and pummel his heart trying to figure out what went wrong. And if he does it right, he’ll learn a thing or two about God.
Take that boy and grow him up a little bit, and put him on the wrong side of the country, far away from all the friends and loved ones he has known. Let him wake each morning, longing for the Kansas prairie, with dreams of being home so vivid and real he is disoriented for several long minutes until he sees the evergreens outside his windows. Then surprise him with a phone call and an invitation to greater faith. And he will learn again how to pray.
Grow that boy up just a little bit more, but take away any sense of direction, any notion of future mission. Then plop a book of adventure and sacrifice down in front of him. Let his heart awaken. Send him out to the lakeside to pray. Let him struggle and squirm with indecision. Then teach him the choice of faith.
That young boy is now becoming a man, so fill his head with ideas and crazy notions. Put people in his life. Take them away again. Let his heart be broken a time or two. Then awaken his heart again. Put within it a search, a longing. Let that longing bang around in his head, marinading it in reason and calculation. Let him work it out all backwards and sideways. And hang a great weight around his neck. Let him bear it for a decade and a half. Let him be taught from resignation and despair. Teach him yet once again how to pray.
Break into the resignation and despair with a double dose of life and promise and joy. Give him respite. Turn his mind to love and fatherhood. Break open his heart, and keep him praying. In the middle hours of the dark nights, keep teaching that man to pray. In the full-on trusting gaze of the infant, teach him a thing or two about God.
Then plop that Kansas boy smack dab in middle life. Stand back and let life take almost everything away from him. Let him dwell in the grey and the dark for a bit. Dribble out answers to his prayers like raindrops on a desiccated prairie. Clear out his mind. Then awaken his heart yet again. Give him the promise of love. Call him out of the hurt and numbness through which he shuffles each day. Dare him to hope. Keep him praying. Let him learn a thing or two about God.
And then cast him out of the darkened city. Anchor him once again in the Plains. Stand back and let his heart be broken again. Draw him into the deeps, where you are. Give him forty days. Then again. And again once more. Let him fast, let him pray. Let him pound the doors of heaven. Teach him faith. Teach him your will. And teach him a thing or two about God.