While on vacation, we drove to Charleston and spent the morning at the South Carolina Aquarium. My older children are in a shark phase, so I wasted no time telling them they would have an opportunity to touch one at a hands-on tank I saw advertised.
My children could barely contain their excitement as they waited patiently with two fingers raised above the water for a shark to come into reach.
Stingrays visited, but sharks never swam close enough to pet. My children were somewhat disappointed, but I assured them we would try again. A few hours later, we found ourselves back at the Shark Shallows in hopes of an encounter.
Sadly, there still wasn’t much action.
When I told my children it was time to go, Jonah, with tears in his eyes begged, “Mom, I haven’t even gotten the chance to touch a shark.” “Me either,” his sister quickly chimed in. Being a woman of faith, I said a quick prayer asking God to direct a shark over to us. After several minutes of waiting, we finally drew the line and left. The children were disappointed, and I was too. I don’t make a habit of spoiling my children or giving them their every desire, but after the length of time we spent trying to touch a shark, I was hoping to have had some success.
Upon returning to our villa, we decided it would be a good evening to try for another family photo. Dressed up in our matching white shirts and jeans, we made our way to the beach.
Not long into our photo shoot, I noticed something near the shoreline.
I couldn’t quite make it out from where I was standing, but upon further investigation, I realized it was…
a beached shark!
We had a couple of uninterrupted moments to view, touch, and hold this magnificent creature.
Emotions swept over me as I told the children God had answered our prayer from earlier.
We had asked him for the chance to touch a shark, but he didn’t answer us in the way we had hoped. We left the aquarium disappointed, but prayers are not wasted or unanswered. God already knew He was going to give us a more intimate experience than we would have ever gotten at the aquarium.
As my hands were rubbing the rough skin of the shark, I couldn’t help but think about my prayer life.
Many times, I pray and wait expectantly for God to show up, but ultimately I walk out of the situation as disappointed as my children when they couldn’t touch a shark. I need to surrender to the truth that I am clueless to what God has in store for later. I live my life assuming God didn’t send a shark my way when the reality is his answer hasn’t washed up on the shore yet. In this example, it was simply a few hours in between my assuming God didn’t answer my prayer to the time I saw it to completion. Often, though, it is days or weeks or years in between.
On September 1st, I am launching another 30-Day Prayer Challenge. For the entire month of September, we will be praying through the book of Proverbs, tailoring each prayer for our husbands. With my heart still racing from my close encounter of the shark kind, I feel the Lord asking me to share this story and encourage you to sign up to join us for this prayer adventure.
Prayers are not wasted or unanswered.
While not designed to be a quick-fix or a cure-all, this challenge could be an incredible resource that God will use to move in your heart and the life of your husband. You might not see the results you are hoping for by the end of the month, but only God knows how your prayers might eventually lead to a close encounter of a God kind!
If you would like to be added to the prayer challenge, click this link!
Disclosure: the beached shark was dead by the time we found him. I would never put my children at risk. At the end of our time with him, we carried him out to sea and put him back into the water. I do believe that God brought that shark the shore for my children.