All posts by Patty LaRoche

Left behind by Patty LaRoche

Grandma, is that a fanny pack you’re wearing?”

Yes, Mo, it is.
“You’re really wearing a fanny pack?” (Underwear on my head could not have embarrassed her more.)

It’s easier to travel without lugging around a purse.”
Jenn, Mo’s mother, intervened. “There’s nothing wrong with a fanny pack, Mo.”

Mo’s eyes widened. She was embarrassed. This grandma wasn’t cool.

We were in Ireland celebrating Jeff, my oldest son’s, St. Patrick’s Day birthday. Fortunately, I was prepared for the “sleet and snow” forecast for our seven-day trip (four in Ireland and three in Scotland).

Galoshes, poncho, umbrella. Check

Sweatshirts, under layers, coat, gloves, winter hat. Check

Swimsuit—in case our hotel had a jacuzzi and to further embarrass my grandkids. Check

Jenn, her children Drake and Mo, and I decided to brave the sleet and take the Dublin city bus tour. There were a few problems locating the starting point, like how our map was confusing and every passerby I asked spoke French or Chinese. When we finally spotted the “Easy-On-Easy-Off” bus a block away, I began sprinting to make sure we weren’t left behind. No doubt my attempt at running was not a proud moment for my grandkids. Must have been the fanny pack…or the multiple layers of clothing I was wearing…or perhaps a combination of the two.

Waving like a wind-up toy, I scampered towards the bus, alerting the driver we needed to board. As we neared, the driver opened the door and hollered for us to hurry up. What do you think we are doing? I wanted to answer and had I any breath left, I might have. Leading the charge, I collapsed into a seat in the middle of the bus. My family followed.

The driver–paid to pretend he likes tourists–wasn’t a fan. He turned and asked to see our tickets, tickets that we should have purchased a few blocks away and not here at a traffic light that had turned green but because some crazed grannie and her family were running straight towards the front of his bus neither this driver nor those behind him made the green light. Mo and Drake were mortified.

I didn’t care. I did what I had to do. We would not be left behind. Which is never fun. And sometimes, eternal.

Chances are unless you were born in the last decade, the words “Left Behind” ring a bell.

Left Behind is a series of 16 best-selling religious, fictional novels by Tim LaHaye and Jerry B. Jenkins, dealing with the end times. People were fascinated by the books, as proven by the 80 million copies sold, and for many, it was the first time they realized the seriousness of the end times. Why? Because too many Christians are embarrassed to share the truth of Scripture. Jesus wasn’t. In Matthew 24:40 he simplifies what will happen when the end comes: “Two men will be in the field; one will be taken and the other left.”

Husband and wife will be shopping at Walmart. One will be gone. One, left.

Two friends will be driving on the freeway. One will be gone. One, left.

People will be worshipping in church. Some will be gone. Some, left.

The determining factor? The way they have glorified God by loving Jesus and each other. It won’t matter what color, what race, what gender. It won’t matter how many miracles they performed or what church they attended, and it certainly won’t matter if they are wearing a fanny pack around their waist or underwear on their heads.

In spite of what their grandkids think.

Holy Yearning For More by Patty LaRoche

We celebrate Easter this Sunday because Jesus died and was resurrected so that you and I can spend eternity with him. In Matthew 18:2-4 he lays out the blueprint for what we need to do.

Jesus called a little child to him and put the child among them (his disciples). Then he said, “I tell you the truth unless you turn from your sins and become like little children, you will never get into the Kingdom of Heaven. So, anyone who becomes as humble as this little child is the greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven.” (bolded lettering mine)

The somber words lack loopholes. If you and I want to get to Heaven, we must be like children: vulnerable; needy; dependent. Gary Haugen, author of Just Courage: God’s Great Expedition for the Restless Christian, writes that these aren’t adjectives most Christians use to describe themselves. The majority—and I include myself here—are cut out for a “more muscular” approach to the life of Christ.

Haugen’s book was recommended to me by my son, Adam. On page one, the author speaks of his college experience when he read John Stuart Mill’s 1859 essay “On Liberty.” In explaining why words lose their meaning, Mills used the example of Christians who have the ability to say the most wonderful things without believing them. I get it.

Take the words we say, for example. “It’s better to give than receive.” “Judge not, lest you be judged.” “Love your neighbor as yourself,” Haugen questioned how differently he would live his life if he actually believed those things. (I would add “If we lived like the Resurrection is real.”)

He ultimately would find out. Rejecting the safe, easy path, Haugen instead would yield himself to God’s calling and give up his job as a prosecutor at the Department of Justice to start a non-profit organization determined to rescue helpless individuals. As founder of the International Justice Mission (IJM), Haugen has spent the majority of his adult life rescuing young girls trapped in the sex trade industry, abused orphans and widows, and slaves (yes, actual slaves—more than 40,000,000!) tortured while laboring in work mills. Through some of those projects, Adam came to know this remarkable man.

Rarely do I recommend a book, but this is an exception. Page after page, I could insert my name in Haugen’s pre-conversion lifestyle description:

  • I prefer safety and security and too often will miss the adventure instead of gambling on the unknown.
  • I would rather be an adult than a child “where I can still pull things together if God doesn’t show up.”
  • I do not have set times for prayer. (Haugen models his organization’s dependence on prayer after Mother Theresa’s who couldn’t imagine doing her work for more than 30 minutes without prayer.) When Adam joined Haugen at his headquarters, he was amazed when an 11:00 A.M. bell rang, all work stopped and everyone prayed. Why? In Haugen’s words, “We don’t do this so much as a matter of discipline but out of desperation.”

Haugen’s book is a call to action for Christians who know there is more than words, who feel a sense of disappointment in the way their life is turning out, who want their life in Christ to be more significant, more vivid, more glorious. He calls it a “holy yearning for more.” I call it “making Jesus’ Resurrection real.”

If those words describe your heart’s cry to serve God more authentically, Just Courage: God’s Great Expedition for the Restless Christian is a great place to start.

 

 

Oneness By Patty LaRoche

Blondin was a 19th-century acrobat, famous for his tightrope acts 160 feet above Niagara Falls on a rope which was over a thousand feet long. His feats varied from being dressed in a sack to walking on stilts to pushing a wheelbarrow full of potatoes to riding a bicycle. One time he stopped in mid-section and cooked an omelet on a small portable stove. At one exhibition, Blondin asked his audience, “Do you believe I can carry a person across the falls in this wheelbarrow?” Of course, the crowd shouted that yes, they believed! Then he posed the question, “Who of you will get in the wheelbarrow?” Of course, no one volunteered. Dave, my husband, and I were invited to our son and daughter-in-law’s house to help plan an upcoming camping adventure for a group of high school baseball players. Adam and Jenn had purchased 30 Bibles for the two-day event. The theme? Trust. Adam asked four coaches and two close friends–Curtis, a Special Forces Operator, and Zach, an Army Ranger (who would leave three days later for his 11th deployment)—to help. The teens, divided into two teams, would follow a map to specific locations where they would be given assignments to find a locked box with instructions as to what they were to do next. In order to get the code to unlock the box, they were assigned Biblical parables or selected verses to read as a group. They would radio to the adults their interpretations of the passages. Among other benefits to the athletes, it was a unique way to show them that answers to life’s problems could be found in the Bible. As we adults discussed the best way to organize the event, the subject of “belief” came up. True “belief.” Not just believe that George Washington was our first president, but the kind of belief that changes our hearts. The kind that makes me confident about jumping into a wheelbarrow to cross Niagara Falls, trusting completely in the one pushing. As it turned out, in 1859, Blondin’s friend and manager, Harry Colcord, showed such confidence. He was strapped to Blondin’s back, and the pair set off across the tightrope. As they reached the halfway point – the most dangerous section of the rope – Blondin said to his friend, “Harry, you are no longer Colcord; you are Blondin. Until I clear this place, be a part of me – mind, body, and soul. If I sway, sway with me. Do not attempt to do any balancing yourself. If you do we shall both go down to our death.” Harry trusted his wiser, more experienced friend, and carefully the Great Blondin continued along until at long last the pair safely reached the other side. God invites us to do the same. To become one with Him. The parable in John 15:5 explains how this works. “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.” In other words, there is a oneness that is necessary for Kingdom work to be accomplished. Two are joined and move in sync. Sever the two and death will occur. I can think of no greater feeling than when I am “one” with God when I trust (believe) I am moving according to His desires and not mine. As for trusting Blondin to be my partner? No way. But God? He can carry me across life’s tightrope anytime He wants.

A Parent’s Love by Patty LaRoche

Beth Guckenberger spoke at our women’s retreat this week. I wanted to adopt her, except she is married with 10 children (adopted, foster and biological, combined). Her talk was about God’s faithfulness in the mission field where she and her husband, Todd, work with Back2Back ministries.

Fresh out of college, Todd and Beth had headed a youth mission team to Monterrey, Mexico, where they found themselves painting a church the same color it had been when their team painted it the year before. Frustrated and with only one day left before returning to the states, the young couple grabbed a taxi, asked to be driven to a local orphanage, and soon found themselves on the porch of a rundown building.

They introduced themselves to the children’s guardian and asked if he could use the help of 20 teens, $200 and some prayers. So began their passion to serve the orphans in Mexico, an involvement that led to their attempted adoption of two young sisters, but after months of paperwork, they were denied. (More on that next week.)

Fast forward a few years to when Todd, Beth, and three-month-old daughter settled in Monterrey. In the fall they returned to Ohio where Todd was a principal at a Christian school and their Mexico orphanage fundraising efforts were taking off. In their absence, a young woman volunteered to live in their Monterrey home to help with some caretaking duties.

No sooner were they back in the states than Beth received an emergency call from the Monterrey caretaker. One of the young orphan girls had been hit by a truck. Within three hours, Beth and baby daughter were on a flight to Mexico, leaving her husband a note on the kitchen counter: “Headed to Monterrey. Will call tonight.”

While there, Beth received a phone call that a three-month-old Mexican boy was available for adoption. Beth called Todd who flew to Mexico to join her to meet their baby son. Even though he had “pretzeled legs, bent arms that would not unfold curled hands and mold on one side of his face,” the adopting couple called him the “most beautiful baby ever.”

Returning to Ohio, intense therapy began, but their young son cried nonstop. A trip to a neuro-surgeon was not good news. Antonio was in the “severe” category of spina bifida. He probably never would talk or walk or be able to care for himself. Todd and Beth needed “to be prepared for the worst.” The news, although devastating, was more reason to pray.

One day when the occupational therapist visited, Antonio was on the floor with a toy. His sister grabbed the toy and went to the other side of the room. Antonio wailed. Beth retrieved the toy and took it back to her son. After an hour of observing this behavior, the therapist told Beth that she was making it too easy for her son. As long as she did everything for him, he would not have to do anything on his own. When the therapist left, Beth sat on the kitchen floor, crying out to God while Antonio lay on the living room floor, crying for his mom.

But then Antonio’s crying changed. Beth walked into the living room to watch her disabled son wiggle-crawl toward his sister on the other side of the room. When he neared the couch, he clutched its skirt bottom and pulled himself up. By now, Beth was on the floor a few feet away. Antonio turned and walked toward his mother.

Beth shared that it wasn’t a normal crawl, pull or walk. Still, it was a far cry from what she ever expected. She quickly loaded the two youngsters into her car and sped to her husband’s school where Antonio showed his dad what he could do. “You know what I’m going to do now, don’t you?” asked Beth.

I’m pretty sure I do,” answered Todd.

(Next week I will share with you the rest of Antonio’s story.)

Practice Your Faith by Patty LaRoche

My brothers and sisters, practice your faith in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ by not favoring one person over another.  For example, two men come to your worship service. One man is wearing gold rings and fine clothes; the other man, who is poor, is wearing shabby clothes.  Suppose you give special attention to the man wearing fine clothes and say to him, “Please have a seat.” But you say to the poor man, “Stand over there,” or “Sit on the floor at my feet.” Aren’t you discriminating against people and using a corrupt standard to make judgments?

 Listen, my dear brothers and sisters! Didn’t God choose poor people in the world to become rich in faith and to receive the kingdom that he promised to those who love him?  Yet, you show no respect to poor people. (James :2-1-6)

If you were to meet Jorge in a dark alley, chances are you would grab your pepper spray or concealed weapon and run for your life. His scowling face, pot-marked with years of hard living, cigarette, alcohol and drug damage, as scary as it is, belies his tender spirit.

He is my friend.

I met Jorge here in Mazatlan, Mexico, five years ago when I first joined a group that bi-weekly travels to the dump to feed the scroungers (their words, not mine). Jorge was our bus driver. I was terrified of him. We met again when I volunteered to help with a Bible study for youngsters who live in squalor in the outskirts of Mazatlan. Again, Jorge drove the van. Observing his love of children and dedication to spreading the gospel with his puppet ministry gave me a new vision of who this man is. As an accomplished guitarist, he also led (leads) the praise and worship at our church. It wasn’t long before I realized he is the heart and soul of the majority of ministries at La Vina Church.

For some reason, the two of us connected. Maybe it was because every year I take him clothes that Dave no longer needs or wants. Maybe it was because I have been pretty faithful in helping his ministries. Maybe it was because God just knew I needed to be smacked for being so judgmental when I first met him.

About twenty-five years ago, Jorge was a serious drug addict, derelict, alcoholic who played his guitar nightly in the brothels. (That’s not all he did when he was there.) From the minute he woke up until he crashed at night, Jorge was addicted. Year after year. Then came the evangelist’s tent revival. For five days, Fred Collum, himself a recovering addict, shared his testimony and gave a call for anyone who wanted to make Jesus the Lord of their lives to come forward.

Jorge showed up drunk on Fred’s last day, staggered up the aisle, barely able to stand, and then made an about-face, zigzagging his way out of the tent. A few weeks later, Jorge met Fred on the street and introduced himself as the drunk man who showed up at his final revival. Fred reached into his pocket to give Jorge some money but was stopped by Jorge’s words: “I don’t want your money. I want you to know that I was too ashamed to come to the front that night, but I went home, got on my knees and asked Jesus to be the Lord of my life. Since then, I have not had any cigarettes, alcohol or drugs.”

So began a friendship between the two men as together they started what now is the largest English-speaking church in Mazatlan and the one known throughout the state for its feeding centers and Bible ministries. Six days a week, Jorge drives a bus or van to a colonia to minister to the poorest of the poor. His life is all about blessing others. For me, my friend blesses me every time we are together.

But my biggest blessing? That Jorge never chose to judge me.

Oops! Moment

Have you ever had an “OOPS!” moment? You know, when things don’t go exactly as planned? My husband and I had a few of those on our recent six-day drive into the heart of Mexico. Howard and Joyce, our Mazatlan friends, invited Dave and me to join them for a sight-seeing, shopping 1000-mile loop. Howard would drive. Dave would be on alert for road signs (frequently hidden behind trees or appearing only when rounding a sharp curve), warn Howard of topes (large, unmarked speed bumps) and pray. All of that came in handy. Without it, I fear this might be my obituary and not my weekly article.

The OOPS! road detours caused multiple delays and directional guessing games to find our hotels. More than once, we were back where we had started, all the while looking for a gas station when the warning light came on in Howard’s car. OOPS!

We were to spend nights in Tlaquepaque, Guanajuato and Zacatecas. Guanajuato, known for its underground roadways created from the old gold and silver mines. was a special thrill. Upon entering the city, Howard pulled to the side of the road and picked up Moises, a Mexican “guide” who navigated us through the archaic tunnels, pointing in the direction we needed to drive. Without him, we would be in Nicaragua. We tipped him well after he carried our heavier suitcases the two blocks from the parking lot up the cobblestone streets to our hotel.

Our rooms were ultra-contemporary, and the city beamed with entertainment. With its traveling minstrels, an orchestra performing in the nearby park, five Mariachi bands and performers doubling as statues, there was no end to the talent we saw.

The following day, per my request, we headed to Leon where over 100 leather stores boasted of their hand-made wares. Soon I found the eight-dollar wallet I wanted and we were on our way to Zacatecas where, according to Howard, the tourist attractions were unrivaled.

With no signs to the “Cuota” (toll road), we ended up on the Libre, the free, winding-until-you -throw-up, traffic-jammed, two-way road. Big OOPS! Our three-hour trip to Zacatecas took six. Once we arrived at our hotel, a converted bull ring, it was too late to tour. We would need to cram more in the next day, but OOPS! Not so fast. We learned that a bridge had been damaged by an overturned semi-truck, so we needed to cut our trip short and return the way we had come instead of completing our loop. We had traveled all day NOT to tour this city.

I’ve decided that our journey last week was kind of like life, except our OOPS! had no lasting effects. Many do. We plan our daily-weekly-monthly-yearly schedules and have our lives pretty well figured out until we are derailed by the unexpected. The OOPS! moments that change our directions: unfulfilled dreams; investments that go South; illness; divorce; a friend’s betrayal; a natural disaster; death.

Luke 12:16-21 is a parable about a rich man who had a plan. With no place to store his abundant crops, he tore down his barns and built bigger ones for his surplus grain. Pick it up in verse 18. “And I’ll say to myself, ‘You have plenty of grain laid up for many years. Take life easy; eat, drink and be merry.’

 But God said to him, ‘You fool! This very night your life will be demanded from you. Then who will get what you have prepared for yourself? This is how it will be with whoever stores up things for themselves but is not rich toward God.’”

In reality, my OOPS! moments were just “oops” moments, temporary detours which meant nothing in the scheme of life. Missing God, however? Now, that’s an OOPS! decision none of us can afford to make.

Patty LaRoche

 Last week we looked at 1 Kings 13: 1-22. A “man of God” had obeyed God, prophesied against idol worship, and was invited to an older prophet’s home for dinner. The man of God explained that God had commanded him not to eat or drink, but the second prophet told a little white lie: an angel had assured him the rules were changed and this was acceptable.

Then the bomb falls. During the meal, God spoke to the lying prophet, clarifying that this disobedience would lead to the man of God’s death far from home. (Read last week’s article to get all the details. Better yet, read the scriptural passage.) Pretty harsh, don’t you think? I mean, how was he to know this was a lie?

Well, if we read between the lines, there were clues. The old prophet lived in one of Israel’s centers of idolatry. Legitimate prophets didn’t do that. Too, he allowed his children to attend Jeroboam’s idol worship when he had to know this violated God’s decree. At least he should have scolded them for betraying the one, true God. Had he been in good standing with the Lord, he himself would have protested King Jeroboam’s sacrifice to the golden calf instead of waiting for another prophet to do the dirty work. But the man of God wasn’t blameless. All he had to do was ask God if this vision was true or not, but, instead, he believed the lie and joined the old prophet in Idolaterville for a meal and a drink.

Of course, easy for me to criticize. I’m not the one who was hungry, thirsty and tired. Pick up the story in verse 23. The lying prophet offered one of his donkeys to the man of God who went on his way where he was met and killed by a lion. People passing by traveled to the old prophet’s city and reported seeing the dead man with a lion and donkey standing nearby. When the old prophet heard of it, he said to his sons, “‘Saddle the donkey for me,’ and they did so. Then he went out and found the body lying on the road, with the donkey and the lion standing beside it. The lion had neither eaten the body nor mauled the donkey. So, the prophet picked up the body of the man of God, laid it on the donkey, and brought it back to his own city to mourn for him and bury him. Then he laid the body in his own tomb, and they mourned over him and said, ‘Alas, my brother!’  “After burying him, he said to his sons, ‘When I die, bury me in the grave where the man of God is buried; lay my bones beside his bones.

 For the message he declared by the word of the Lord against the altar in Bethel and against all the shrines on the high places in the towns of Samaria will certainly come true.’” (Which, of course, it did.) In this case, a little lyin’ led to a bigger lion, one that attacked the man of God who was barely out of Dodge. Just hours earlier, he was God’s miraculous hand to deal with false worship at the Altar of Bethel, but then he was seduced into appeasing his temporal pleasures.

I imagine many of us would have done likewise. We forget there is an enemy roaming this planet whose job is to seduce. And he does it well. We ignore our Holy Spirit warnings and believe whatever satisfies our desires, justifying it all as “harmless.” “Just one more drink.” “A quick peek can’t hurt.” “R-rated movies mean nothing.” “Only a few more dollars on our credit card.” “The church can live without my tithe.” “What’s the big deal about a little white lie?” When we get to Heaven, we might want to ask the man of God about that one.

 

 

 

Patty LaRoche: The Prophet’s Error, Part 1

When I first read 1 Kings 13:1-34, I was frustrated. With each additional reading, I became more frustrated. God gives so many people second-and- third-and-fourth chances, but this poor guy gets one. And it’s not even his fault. Well, not much. He just lets down his guard for one teensy, weensy minute.

Throughout the entire chapter, this prophet is referred to as a “man of God.” No name. Just “a man of God.” Obviously, he’s done something right. As the story unfolds, this man of God travels from Judah and confronts King Jeroboam who is setting up worship at the altar at Bethel, defying God’s decree that there would be only one altar—in Jerusalem.

The man of God is there to rain on Jeroboam’s idol-worship parade and prophesies that one day a descendent of King David named Josiah will sacrifice priests on that altar. (This came true 340 years later.) For proof, “the altar will split in two.” As one who hates David’s dynasty, the enraged king points to the prophet and commands his attendants to arrest him. Immediately the king’s arm shrivels up and the altar splits apart. This is no minor detail. Proper ritual required the sacrificial ashes be disposed of in a “clean” place (Lev. 4:12; 6:10-11). Contact with the ground nullified the sacrifice. Big trouble for the king.

I can only imagine Jeroboam’s horror. He begs for the man of God to intercede to the Lord to restore his hand. God answers his prayer.

So far, the man of God has lived up to his name.

In return, the king invites the prophet to his palace for a meal and a gift. The man of God answers the king, “Even if you were to give me half your possessions, I would not go with you, nor would I eat bread or drink water here. For I was commanded by the word of the LORD: ‘You must not eat bread or drink water or return by the way you came.’”  The man of God obeys and takes another road home. Clearly, he desires to follow God’s directive.

Word spreads, and an old prophet in the area hears from his sons about the miracle at the Altar of Bethel. He saddles his donkey, chases after the man of God, finds him under a tree and invites him to return for a meal. The man of God reiterates what he has told the king.

The old prophet answers, “I too am a prophet, as you are. And an angel said to me by the word of the LORD: ‘Bring him back with you to your house so that he may eat bread and drink water.’” (But he was lying to him.) So, the man of God returns with him and shares a meal.

Do you have the same questions I have? How was Prophet #1 to know he is being deceived? Why did Prophet #2 go to such efforts to seduce this man of God? Was it so he could brag to his friends that a celebrity had been in his house?

Trust me, there are no answers to these questions. All I know is, at this point I’m really ticked off at Prophet #2.

Let’s pick up in verse 20: “While they were sitting at the table, the word of the LORD came to the old prophet who had brought him back. He cried out to the man of God, “This is what the LORD says: ‘You have defied the word of the LORD and have not kept the command the LORD your God gave you. You came back and ate bread and drank water in the place where he told you not to eat or drink. Therefore your body will not be buried in the tomb of your ancestors.’”

WHAT????

No apologies. No “I’m so sorry.” No “I’ve really screwed up this time.” No “Lord, take me in this man of God’s place.” Nothing (except prophesying his visitor’s doom).

See why I find this frustrating?

If you’re needing a little more frustration, just wait until next week when we will look at the rest of the story.

Patty LaRoche: The Need to Pray

In 1952, Albert Einstein was delivering a lecture on the campus of Princeton University. A doctoral student asked the famous scientist, “What is there left in the world for original dissertation research?” With considerate thought, Einstein replied, “Find out about prayer. Somebody must find out about prayer.”

F.B. Meyer, author of The Secret of Guidance, might have consoled Einstein with his writing: “Prayer is, for the most part, an untapped resource, an unexplored continent where untold treasure remains to be unearthed. It is talked about more than anything else, and practiced less than anything else. And yet, for the believer it remains one of the greatest gifts our Lord has given us outside of salvation.”

Still, the majority of Christians reject this miraculous resource.

For the past few years I have used a power tooth brush. Built into it is a little timer that shuts itself off after two minutes. Flossing adds another minute. Gargling and rinsing, a few seconds more.

From beginning to end, no more than four minutes is used…the same amount of time most Christians (according to statistics) spend in prayer. If that isn’t tragic enough, most of those five minute prayers are spent asking for something. No wonder our faith remains powerless. We expect the Creator of the universe to stay on call to meet our every desire, ready to jump when we order Him to, yet our teeth get the same attention He does.

What’s wrong with this picture?

I recently read a story of a minister observing a young boy kneeling in church praying fervently, repeating the words “Tokyo, Tokyo, Tokyo.” The preacher approached the boy after he finished his prayer and said, “Son, I was very pleased to see you praying so devoutly, but tell me, why did you keep saying “Tokyo, Tokyo, Tokyo”? The boy answered, Well, you see sir, I just finished taking my geography test in school, and I have been praying for the Lord to make Tokyo the capital of France.”

The story is a perfect illustration of how we use God. “Here’s my list, Lord. Don’t take too long to answer.” Thomas Aquinas once wrote, “It is clear that he does not pray, who, far from uplifting himself to God, requires that God shall lower Himself to him, and who resorts to prayer not to stir the man in us to will what God wills, but only to persuade God to will what the man in us wills.”

Oh my, the cry is desperate! Even Jesus, giving the disciples an example of how to pray, used the phrase “Thy will be done” while speaking to his Father in the Lord’s prayer. It has nothing to do with “my” will. We need to learn to pray to accept what God has for us, good and bad. Does that mean that we don’t petition God to hear our pleas? Absolutely not. It simply changes our focus from “Me” to “Him.”

Mother Teresa’s life-changing message resounds with confidence: “Prayer is not asking. Prayer is putting oneself in the hands of God, at His disposition, and listening to His voice in the depth of our hearts.”

Perhaps Einstein just needed to know whom to ask.