Years ago when I was a tween, my brother and I rented a video (yes, no DVD’s or Blu-ray back then) of a Steve Martin movie called The Man with Two Brains. I don’t remember a whole lot of that movie except for one scene: Steve Martin’s character, the laughably named Dr. Michael Hfuhruhurr, is wanting to marry a woman who is clearly (in everyone’s eyes, but his own) all wrong for him. Not wanting to do something that he’ll later regret, he walks to the foyer in his mansion and looking to the sky he tosses the question up to God saying, “If I’m not meant to marry her, give me a sign, God!” At that moment the ground begins to shake, the pictures on the wall begin to spin, Dr. Hfuhruhurr losses his balance and begins teetering around the room, the lights flicker off and on, and finally a booming voice from the heavens shouts, “NOOOOOOO! NOOOOOOO!” All of this is as clear a sign as one could imagine from the viewer’s perspective. But when the shaking stops, the lights stop flickering and the thunderous “NOOOOOO!” is quiet, Dr. Hfuhruhurr, now disheveled and sweating from the whole experience says this, “Just give me any sign, God. ANY SIGN, and I’ll not marry her.”
It is laugh out loud funny to see someone miss such obvious “signs.” What is also clear to the viewer is this: we see what we want to see. We spend a great deal of time and energy trying to get God to see our side of things. To convince, persuade, entice, beg, even bribe Him to give us what we so desperately want at any given moment. It’s so much harder to put aside what we want and in those moments try to see what God might see. And because of our limited human nature, it can sometimes seem impossible.
But I think, like so many things in life, the prayers we say reveal more about who we are, than we realize. Have you ever examined what it is you’re asking? Just the other day I found myself saying, “But, God, you have NO IDEA how badly I want this…” and as if for the first time, I really heard what I was saying. If I believed that, then why was I praying? Did I really believe that? That GOD –the God who I claim knows everything –has NO IDEA what I want?
Uhn uh. Not the God I believe in.
So how is it that I could think otherwise?
I needed to find the Truth. And the Truth (as He laid it on my heart) was this: I was trying to get God to do what I wanted. To be my winning lotto ticket in life. To hand me the jackpot of whatever my heart/mind was desiring in that moment. To show me the sign I wanted to see.
It was a humbling thought.
And like Dr. Hfuhruhurr, I now had a choice. I could continue to ignore the signs, or…I could change my prayer.
It’s been nearly two decades since I saw that movie, but I’m finally learning something from that scene. And so from this moment forward (or at least until I forget–because isn’t that a big part of the struggle, to remember forever what it is we’ve learned?) I have changed my prayer from, “Please show me/tell me, God,” to one that seems more consistent with the God I claim to know and believe in, the God who already knows what is best for me, the One who very likely wants more for me than I can ever dream or imagine for myself.
I pray the only words I can think of that the faithful, trusting servant I claim I’m trying to be would say…
“Open my eyes, Lord. Help me to see.”