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Chris Jeffries tells the story of Roy who was feeling frustrated that he was not able to do what he felt he was born to do. So he prayed for Our Father to change something. Then there was a knock at the door and they met two strangers, a married couple. They invited them in and sat them down at their table, where they had just finished lunch, and the reason for their trek up our long and steep drive unfolded. ’Well, we were driving along here and we don’t quite understand it, but we were compelled to come up your drive.’ They had noted that it was a Christian retreat centre, but that meant little to them. They made them a cup of tea, always a good place to start, and then talked in general terms about the centre for a while and finally explained to them that this is a place where lives get changed because God is real. They then gave them a tour of the grounds showing them the garden across the swiftly flowing stream and a beautiful view of the valley and surrounding hills. They took in the stone corridors of the main retreat centre and then entered the final room at the back, which happened to be the chapel. There, they seemed to sense something of the presence of God, although they might not have been able to articulate what was happening to them. They sat down rather speedily, rather heavily, as if their legs had gone a little weak. He then said: ’We have a rule here about how we respond to our visitors. We like to bless them before they leave. May I bless you?’ They had no problem with that, so I simply said: ’I bless you in the name of Jesus, to know God, his purpose for your life, and his blessings on you and your family and the situations of your life. Amen.’ They started to weep. The sense of the presence of God seemed tangible. Roy quietly let himself out of the chapel so they could have some time to themselves and let God do what he wanted to do for that couple. A little later they came and found Roy, full of gratitude and rather shaken by what was for them the unexpected sense of God’s presence. And before they left, he had the opportunity to share a little more of the good news of Jesus.

And then Chris Jeffires writes, “On the face of it, this isolated event would not have seem like an answer to Roy’s prayer. But nothing quite like this had happened before and perhaps it should have made him wonder. It turned out later that this was the beginning of the answer to why Roy was at this retreat center and there was more to come - much more. Roy could not see this at the time. Probably we are all the same, I know I am. I ask for something but don’t expect the next thing that happens to be the first stirrings of the Father’s response. Sometimes I have the faith to ask, believing that he will do something, yet somehow I expect his answer to be within the bounds of my hopes and expectations. How silly! Often (perhaps always) he does far, far more than we can ever hope or expect (Ephesians 3:20). So next time you pray for something, expect to be surprised by the answer. You don’t know how, or where, or when the answer will arrive; you don’t know if it will be in the form you suppose. All you know for sure is that it’s likely to be more than you expect, not less….(And) Always remember, Papa (our Father) won’t give you what you want, he’ll give you what he knows you need. He’ll give you what he wants, he’ll give you what will further the growth of his Kingdom, he will stretch you and develop your character. He is Love and he is also very wise.”

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