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Family Grace
By Shawnelle Eliasen

When the Answer Is 'No'

Once in a while, at lunch time, the little boys and I play drive-through restaurant. They pull their bikes from the garage or hop on their scooters. Then they drive across the patio to the long, low porch windows. I wait there with a notepad.

A boy waits for his order.“Hello, Sir,” I say. “Would you like a turkey sandwich or a PB&J?”

PB&J is the most likely answer.

“Thank you,” I say. “One moment please.”

Then I slip into the kitchen where the lunch supplies are assembled. I make a sandwich and slide it into the brown paper bag that’s already half full with sliced apples and an oatmeal cookie. When I return to the window, my customer is smiling bright as the day.

“Thank you,” he says when I pass the bag through the open window.

“You are welcome,” I say. “Come again.”

And the little man is off, pedaling or pushing down the narrow sidewalk that divides the side yard. At the end, our craggy old picnic table waits under the shade of our oak.

Today I remember this game, as I’ve long been taking a request to the Lord. I feel like I’ve been standing in a window of prayer, making my request.

Please, Lord, I would just like to have this one thing. But I stand there and wait. And the thing I desire does not come. There is no quick delivery. No brown paper bag to take with a smile as I pedal along life’s way.

I understand, this morning, that the Lord must be saying "no."

I know that He longs to bless me, that He loves to give good gifts to His children. And I know that there is no resource in heaven and earth that is not His. But the Lord is not a short-order cook, wrapping and packaging my order per my request.

And I believe that the reason why lies in the depths of these two blessings: relationship and love.

When I push my own longing aside and look to my heart’s most tender place, I know that the Lord loves me more that I could ever know. It’s His nature. And this love is a reservoir from which our relationship flows. God, all knowing, in His infinite knowledge and wisdom, understands more than I do about what I need.

He loves me too much to give me what is not best.

Even when I think that it is.

He’s my Father. He’s my provider but my protector, too. We’re in a loving relationship, and it’s just simple truth that His ways and thoughts are above mine.

So today, I’ll choose to trust in His plan for me. I’m grateful to be in the center of His hand, where I can rest in the sweet place of relationship and love.

I’ll ask Him to change my heart, too, that my desires would align with His, and that meanwhile I’ll grow in faith.

And maybe I’ll invite the boys to Mama’s Drive-Through for lunch and find peace and joy in the blessings He’s given me today.

Lord, help me to trust your perfect plan. Amen.

Shawnelle Eliasen and her husband Lonny have been married for twenty-five years. They have five sons and raise their bevy of boys in an old Victorian near the Illinois banks of the Mississippi River. Their sons, Logan, Grant, Samuel, Gabriel, and Isaiah, range in age from twenty-one to six with Shawnelle home teaching the youngest three.

Shawnelle has been writing for six years, contributing regularly to Guideposts magazine, Daily Guideposts devotional and other inspirational publications.  She would say that life with her men moves faithfully, on fast forward.  But it’s her heart’s desire, her passionate prayer, to see God’s goodness and glory in the fullness of her days. She longs to see Him in the unexpected moments, unexpected places, changing the ordinary to extraordinary and bringing quiet, sustaining grace.