Have you ever felt helpless? Overwhelmed by circumstances in life? Ever suddenly realize you are entirely at the mercy of someone else?
My first time riding a taxi in China, we packed six of us into a three-seater taxi and put our luggage in the trunk. He asked us a question in Chinese. We guessed he was asking where we were going, so we handed him a post-it with the address.
Zooming off down the wrong side of the road, dodging oncoming traffic, our NASCAR taxi driver probably broke every traffic law. We later learned that Chinese traffic laws are more suggestions than actual rules.
We arrived at our missions base of operations in record time. We got out, and the taxi peeled out of the parking lot.
“Wait!” we yelled. “Our luggage!”
It was too late. Our clothes, laptops, guitars, money, and everything else we needed for three months dropped into a Yellow Taxi abyss.
We felt helpless, discouraged, and scared. What could we do?
Step 1. Start With Prayer.
Being the typical American male that I am, I immediately began to think how I could fix the problem. Someone suggested we go pray. I politely agreed, but inside I was frustrated. We have to DO something! We don’t have time to sit here and pray! I thought.
Unfortunately, this attitude is not an exception. Most of us don’t consider prayer an action item but rather a passive hobby.
Yet prayer is the action item of Heaven.
We went inside our base and prayed with the Chinese Christians. They prayed against every attack on our team. They prayed against all fear that would creep into our hearts.
Together we declared that God is the Miracle Worker. He would deliver our luggage, and even if He didn’t, He is the Great Provider no matter what.
This was a different kind of prayer. This was war.
Step 2. Ask “What Now?”
After a moment, our leaders suggested, “Let’s ask God what to do.”
Often we pray to God like a one-way street. We ask him to bless our day, meeting, service, or idea, and then we move on to immediately planning a strategy for it. Rarely do we stop and ask for direction.
Other times we ask God questions like, “Why did this happen? How could this happen? Where are you, God?”
After asking God these questions for many years in many different situations, I’ve discovered we don’t really need to know why, or how, or where, do we? What we really need to know is “What do we do now?”
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Step 3. Listen.
We then took a moment of silence and waited to see if God would speak to anyone on the team. This was very new to me. I had never heard of (and certainly had never practiced) “listening prayer.”
We asked God a question, then stopped and waited, listening as though God would answer audibly. A few moments later, a team member broke the silence. “I feel like God said, ‘Call the radio station.’”
Step 4. Just Do It.
That makes no sense. How will that help us? I thought.
We didn’t understand Chinese radio stations. Even if we did, what would they do? Stop their music and say, “Hey listeners, some Americans lost their luggage. If you’re a taxi driver, and that’s you, go back and return it”?
And even if they did this, the odds that our driver would be listening to that one radio station at that exact moment would be astronomical.
But no one else on the team felt anything else. This was the only thing close to a “plan” that we had.
I learned that day that our job is not to understand. It is to obey.
Often, we won’t try strategies that could be suggestions from God because it doesn’t make sense to us logically. A lot of miracles have died on the altar of human logic.
Step 5. Wait Expectantly.
We had a Chinese member of the base found a number for a random radio station. They explained the situation to the producer who, surprisingly, they said they would make an announcement for us.
It was awesome but, to be honest, my mind defaulted to doubt once again. Even if they announce something. I doubt our taxi driver will hear it. By some miracle, if he hears it, China taxi drivers are notorious for corruption. Foreigners get out of the cab having already paid the driver, and before they can reach in and grab their bags, drivers take off, knowing no one will find him.
My mind was stuck in the mud of a “realistic” mindset.
Psalms 27:14 Wait for the LORD; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the LORD!
The word “wait” used in this verse can also be translated “hope” or “expect.”
Often we think waiting is passive and helpless when it is really an expectant attitude.
When we order something online, we don’t wait and hope that one day it will come in the mail “if God wills it.” We expect that it will show up.
When waiting on God, we must fight the urge to wait helplessly, thinking, Maybe if it’s God’s will, he will rescue us. According to this verse, we must expect that His rescue is coming.
Would someone give us money for new items? Would we get our stuff back? We did not know how the answer would unfold, but we expected God to answer like He promises he will.
A few hours later, a taxi drove up to the mission base. Our taxi driver jumped out and began unloading all of our luggage, guitars, and everything.
Apologetically, he said he forgot we had put our belongings in the trunk. Hours later, listening to his favorite radio station, the host came on and explained how some Americans had left all their luggage in a taxi trunk.
Realizing it was his taxi, he had swerved through traffic, racing to get back to us.
God restored all of our belongings and taught us a lesson in faith.
Have you ever felt stuck? Have you ever thought you would never get an answer to an urgent prayer? What experience taught you that prayer is a two-way conversation? Or have you never tried listening for an answer — maybe you could use some direction on how to do that.
Please share in the comments. I’d love to hear your stories.