A few weeks ago, my husband Rick and I were on our way to New Hampshire to be with a sweet friend of ours who was graduating from a discipleship program. I was in a bit of pain due to my recently diagnosed spinal stenosis (spinal column too small = pain in bow-heinie and down one leg), and wasn’t in the best of moods. Rick, on the other hand, was Mr. Isn’t-Life-So-Wonderful, and it was beginning to piss me off.
In an attempt to avoid Manhattan I suggested an alternate route going north into upstate New York before heading east into New Hampshire. And, in light of his buoyant mood, Mr. Isn’t-Life-So-Wonderful said something to the effect of, sweet, that sounds great, we’ll see the Delaware River Valley, without bothering to do what any American born male should assume responsibility for, and check his wife’s calculations—and remember, I’m in pain and not necessarily thinking clearly—with an actual, real map, like a real man would, and not leave the itinerary to me or an unreliable at best GPS to make sure it was really, at least in some sense of the word, a short cut.
No. It wasn’t. Short. It was long. So long in fact, that in my pain we had to stop two hours before getting there because my back was in so much pain I was beginning to cry a little bit, and as self-pity runs in the family, I was settling into my suffering quite nicely until Rick, observing the beauty of New York, or New Hampshire, or Connecticut, or wherever we were at that point, prayed out loud—without so much as a nod beforehand indicating that he was addressing God and not me—Oh, Father, I pray that we would see a moose.
I was not in a “let’s trust God for this” kind of mood. I was in a “get Katie out of this car before she yanks the door off the glove compartment and uses it to smash the GPS into bits” sort of mood. I refrained from rolling my eyes when he prayed for the moose, but inside I was rolling them a lot. I rolled my eyes to myself and thought Oh sure, here we go, don’t worry about me, just think about how lovely God’s creation is—you trust him for a moose, you go ahead and do that Rick, and receded back into the safety of my self pity. Nothing could have irritated me more right then. Not only was he somehow (in a way that I hadn’t quite figured out yet) responsible for my physical pain, he was essentially asking me to trust God for a moose, something I had no desire to do right then. He could have kept his little prayer to himself, but he didn’t. And I knew exactly what would happen; Rick would see a stuffed moose in a store or one would be in the background when he was watching the local news, and he would say out loud Look, a moose! God, thank you so much for my moose. You’re awesome, and this would leave me even more irritated, requiring me to bury my face in my pillow and try to handle my personal frustration with God in a godly (yeah, that would be sarcasm) way before I fell asleep.
The next day was better. After stopping at a Motel 6 (I’ll save that experience for another prayer letter and another Trip Advisor review), we got to see our friend graduate. It was lovely, and we prayed and sang and I thanked God (for real), and we drove home that evening, arriving around 1:00 am. I was exhausted, but God was good and we were good and I just couldn’t wait to climb into bed. I went into the bathroom to brush my teeth and Rick turned on the TV.
I wandered out into the bedroom as I brushed my teeth, saying something foamy and hard to understand like sush a gray pogam, don you sink? Referring to how much I liked the program in New Hampshire. Rick was lying on the bed watching HGTV.
Honestly, I only glanced at the TV for a second, a split second really, while I was brushing my teeth—something I always prefer to do in the bathroom standing next to the sink. I saw it before Rick did, the moose, with Colgate White spilling out of my mouth, and it was just what I had expected; a moose on TV, but when I glanced at the TV and saw the actual MOOSE that God had intended all along for Rick to see, and perhaps more importantly, for me to see, I was struck dumb and even without the toothpaste I probably wouldn’t have been able to say much.
It was enormous, and beautiful, and majestic, and stood on the top of a hill, its antlers velvet in the sun, and its chest out as it raised its nose and called in a deep and somehow also shrill sound; a moose-call, something I’d never heard before. It was beautiful and it made me cry, and God might just as well have been standing there too, maybe a smug look on his face and his head tilted left; “Yes, Kate, I’m going to give Rick his moose on TV, that’s exactly what I’m going to do—you have a problem with that?”
And lest you think that the moral of this story is ‘don’t question God or he will chastise you,’ I need to make clear here that all I felt was joy: encouragement in God’s sovereignty, his majesty, his sense of humor (HGTV no less), and perhaps most profoundly; his gentleness with me.
We sing hymns about the love of God. Keep singing them even if you don’t feel nothin.’ He’s mighty and works even our bad moods around, so that if we’re paying attention they will only confirm what we already know; he loves us no matter what.