"Teach me to do Your will, for You are my God; may Your good Spirit lead me on level ground."
- Psalm 143:10 NIV
Recently, my family and I experienced a loss that deeply saddened our hearts, when one of our beloved pets died suddenly. After raising ducks for more than four years, and experiencing the joys and the sorrows of being pet owners, we were now down to only one duck--our "Larry Boy." Knowing how heartbroken we were, our loved ones encouraged us to get a new pet to replace the one we had lost. This made a lot of sense, because Larry was grieving so much for his mate that he stopped eating, and became lethargic and listless. Even so, I didn't want to let my emotions dictate my actions, so I went to the Lord in prayer. The first thing I did was to put my own desires "on the altar." I told the Lord that as much as I would love to have a new pet, I wanted His perfect will even more. I asked Him to close all the wrong doors, and open all the right doors, so that His purpose would prevail. The days to follow were very painful for me, because I felt as though I were in "limbo." Was God going to lead me to part with my only remaining pet, or was He going to bring an additional one into my life? This experience taught me how submitting to the Lord's plans can help us to receive His best.
As the days went by without the Lord revealing to me what He wanted me to do about Larry, I noticed him becoming more and more depressed and inactive. I began making phone calls to wildlife centers to see if they might have a duck that needed a good home, or if they could place Larry in a new home with other ducks, but I kept running into closed doors. As I described Larry's symptoms to one of the wildlife specialists I spoke to, she said that if I didn't get him a new mate right away, he might not survive. As soon as I hung up the phone, I fell to my knees in prayer, and I pleaded with the Lord to provide Larry with a new mate--either in my home, or somewhere else. This experience reminded me how increasing the intensity of our prayers can move the mighty hand of God.
I knew that the brother of one of my husband's friends raised ducks. But I also knew that even though we had asked him for one of his ducks when we were in need in the past, he had never agreed to give us one. So I earnestly prayed, "Lord, if it's Your will for us to have one of this man's ducks, then please change his heart and mind so that he will give us one." I knew that our God is a God of hearts, and that it is within His power to change someone's heart when He chooses to. (Proverbs 21:1) This experience reminded me how asking God to change a stubborn heart can enable us to partner with Him to see His will come to pass.
A year earlier, my family and I had to give up our pet duck, Ginger, because he and Larry had begun fighting over the single female duck we had. The Lord opened a door for us to place Ginger in a good home with a new mate of his own. My heart was broken when we had to part with Ginger, but I offered him up to the Lord as a sacrifice, and planted him as a seed for a harvest of blessing for me and my family. Never could I have imagined that one of the offspring that Ginger would father in his new home, would be God's provision for the perfect mate for Larry a year later. This experience taught me how planting a sacrificial seed can meet a need in the days to come.
God honored my heartfelt desire to do His will, where my family's pet situation was concerned. As I put my own plans and desires on the altar, and as my prayers and pleas became desperate and urgent, the Lord softened and changed a man's heart, so that he would release to us a blessing that God had planned for us all along--one of our own Ginger's offspring to make our little flock complete, and to fill our hearts with joy!
Prayer: Lord, I know that whenever I suffer a loss, You have valuable lessons to teach me. Please show me what they are, and grant me a teachable spirit, so that my suffering may bear good fruit for my good and Your glory. Thank You that as I put my trust in You, and submit to Your will, I will receive the very best of Your blessings!
- J. M. Farro