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 wasn’t in the best of moods because I was in a bit of pain due to my recently diagnosed spinal stenosis (spinal column too small = pain in heinie and down one leg). 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 check his wife’s calculations—remember, I’m in pain and not necessarily thinking clearly—with an actual, real map 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 hurt so much that I was beginning to cry a little, and as self-pity runs in the family, I was settling into my suffering 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 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 then 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 time 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 HGTV.
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 the discipleship program our friend had graduated from.
And then, 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.
With toothpaste still foaming from my mouth, I saw it before Rick did, the moose, and it was just what I had expected, a moose on TV; but then when I looked 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 top of a hill, its antlers fuzzy looking 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 to the 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.