Every night before bed I sit on the top bunk and pray, with my pianist roommate Tiffany, that God will send us a piano. Tiffany wants one so she can compose songs in our dorm room and play measures of Chopin over and over without walking to another building.
I don't mind praying for this. It seems only fair, since at my desk I get to type all the words I want - half in rehearsal, half in composition - until smoke comes out of the keyboard. Writing is my way of feeling God's pleasure, and playing the piano is hers. I would like to see her have the same delight in another medium. Although it really could make our room almost too delightful.
So each night, ripe for dreamland, I sit blind without my glasses and lisp to God over my orthodontic retainer. Like Moses removing his sandals, speaking over a retainer reminds a girl of her mortality. I believe God listens to my lisps.
Tiffany listens, too, curled up in her sheets. I come to the fatal line, hesitating: "And God - if you want to - please send us a piano."
The words sound painfully loud.
God can say no to our requests, and that makes praying itchy. We squirm, a little ashamed both before God and before each other. Did we ask too much this time? Can asking be right?
Because we asked for the very tangible thing - the piano - will we look like fools for hoping, when God says no?
I, for one, know very little about the acquisition of pianos. I don't know what they cost, how they're delivered or tuned - don't even know if one would fit in our room, for that matter. This praying stuff resembles squinting without glasses on. We don't speak with the tongues of angels but with those of college kids wearing retainers. But if God can get rich men through needle's eyes - no, I mean, camels into heaven - then He can surely find a piano, pay for it, deliver it, and fit it into the corner by the sink.
We know who owns the cattle on a thousand hills and the pianos in a million living rooms. When we ask for fish He doesn't give us snakes, or stones when we ask for bread. In praying we crawl into His lap and trust Him for resources we can't fathom. If anybody knows how to give good gifts, He does.
From our roost in the bunk bed we pray also for things more spiritually weighty. Things like diligence, kind tongues, and hearts that remember to enjoy God all day long. And Lord, please, somehow, help us get all our homework done.
"Tiffany," I said yesterday afternoon, amazed, "I think God's going to do great things."
"Well yes, Chelsea," she laughed. "Consider His track record."
Forget pianos. If God doesn't give us one, He'll give us something better. The point is that we can take any desire to God - rather than become embittered by complaint or blame at the absence of the thing desired - and trust the heart of the Giver.