I am living the life of a “starving artist” these days in many imaginable ways. Basically—doing all those things that I swore I’d never do when I became an English major in college: living in my parents’ attic, shopping at thrift stores, and spending my days writing in coffee shops by day and waitressing by night. As much as I realize that I am in so many ways a living cliché (though I haven’t started smoking or quit wearing makeup yet, thankfully), I am also beginning to understand why so many people choose this lifestyle. No waking up early. No stressful corporate culture. No pencil skirts. So far, it’s been all right.
Also, waitressing, people watching (what writers really do in coffee shops) and being with my family has been the source of way more fodder for blogging than my law firm desk job.
Today for instance, was dark, rainy, and freezing cold. I forwent my usual bike ride to work downtown and had my mom drop me off instead. On the way there she and I griped about the weather and predicted a slow, uneventful day at work. Earlier that day as I’d gotten dressed I had specifically prayed that Jesus would send lots of customers into the restaurant despite the rain—a prayer that, from the looks of things, would take a minor miracle to answer.
I moped around as I set up tables and mopped the floors—assuming the first customers wouldn’t even come in until 1 p.m. I lazily went through my check list of things to clean, trying to stretch each to the maximum time they could possibly take so that the day wouldn’t drag by.
Imagine my surprise when, at 11:40, a table of two walked in. And then another. And then a four-top, then two more, and two threetops…. and so on. We were suddenly SWAMPED, and I was completely unprepared. I hadn’t even finished my second cup of coffee—meaning I wasn’t even awake. I was feeling flustered and inconvenienced and was cursing under my breath as I rushed espresso and wine and bread around to anxious customers. In the middle of pouring someone’s EXTRA hot cappuccino, I remembered the words I had spoken under my breath getting ready for work that morning in the stillness of my room.
“Jesus, would you help work to be busy today? Send lots of people…”
Hadn’t the Lord given me exactly what I had asked for? My simple prayer had been more than answered, so why was I so frustrated? I realized as I spooned the last bit of foam onto the espresso that the problem was ME. I hadn’t been prepared for His answer. Had I not been so lazy in getting the restaurant together, having seven tables at once would have been a cinch.
The Holy Spirit extrapolated that concept out into the broader spectrum of my life. There are prayers that I am currently asking of Jesus that include much more major things than a day at a restaurant—things like a new job, and a move, and a future that makes Jesus famous to thousands and thousands of people. They are prayers that Jesus hasn’t answered yet. It occurred to me to ask myself as I reflected on this, that if He does answer my “big” prayers, will I be ready? What am I doing today to ensure that my character can withstand the heat and pressure that comes with preaching to thousands, if that is His will for me? What am I doing to prepare myself to live in the new culture that I want to move to? What am I doing to qualify myself for a new job? How am I refining my habits so that when I don’t have hours of free time every day that I am able to manage and steward my day-to-day life with ease, the way Jesus always intended?
It is always the role and responsibility of Jesus to do what only Jesus can do. That doesn’t mean that we are exempt from doing what He has already equipped us to do. Keep praying bold prayers friends—but it is worth pausing to evaluate how you are doing at preparing yourself for the answer. Jesus will always be faithful because that’s who He is. Let’s prepare ourselves to receive His favor.