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More than 20 years ago now, Garth Brooks co-wrote and had a number-one hit with “Unanswered Prayers.” It speaks to many people about the way God weaves people in and out of our lives and the way we think we want something so badly it hurts, and then realize God had something else planned all along.

As Christians, we know (or should know) God does not leave prayers unanswered. He is active in our lives. There is an old saying in youth ministry about how God deals with our prayers. Typically, the answers is “Yes,” “No” or “Maybe later.” Reminds me of my parents when I asked to go to the zoo or something similar when I was in grade school. That is a good thing. We want and need our Heavenly Father to answer our petitions in a parental way.

Often we want things so badly for our families, our communities, our social lives, and yes even for our own happiness, that we pray and shed tears and search and seek with all our hearts. What do we do when God says “No!”? When God closes that door, sometimes the slam is painful. We can feel the thud in our hearts. We should leap for joy! Why? Because God has something much better in mind for you.

Recently, God gave me a saying that I have been able to use in ministry, helping other people through tough times which can be difficult to understand. It goes something like this:

“All too often, we trip over watermelons God has laid at our feet as we look for low hanging fruit.”

You see, we tend to search for that gorgeous cluster of grapes, or luscious juicy peach which is in easy reach and then praise God for His provision. Don’t get me wrong. We should praise God for His provision and even ask Him to provide it (see The Lord’s Prayer). My suggestion is that it may not be wise to demand the type of provision He should provide. What God has in store for us is not always “easy pickens.” But it may be so much more than we ever expected if we will just do as Psalm 46:10 tells us and “Be still and know I am God.”

Here is a personal example of a “watermelon” in our family that we almost tripped over. Our oldest son was applying to several “big schools” for college. We had “high hopes”, reaching for that “juicy peach” we thought was God’s will for him.

Some of his options were out of state. God clearly said “NO!” to our top three. While we couldn’t quite reach our “peach,” God provided the watermelon as our son received a full scholarship at the closest four-year university to our home. He is literally just a few miles down the road and gets to fully participate in all of our family activities. It is a school he was very familiar with because he had participated in several camps and academic and extracurricular competitions there.

While we are very grateful and thank God every day, He also taught us many lessons. I would like to share some life application with you. Not only does Jer. 29:11 (For I know the plans that I have for you, declares the LORD, plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope (NASB)) speak to God knowing more than we do, Prov 3:5-6 (Trust in the LORD with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight. (NASB)), these verses help us understand God has plans for us, and God gives us the shortest distance to joy.

Concerning watermelons:

– We need to realize they are much bigger than grapes and peaches we thought we wanted.

– You have to be more active in their gathering, actually bend over and pick them up.

– You can’t have your head in the clouds if you want to see them; they are on the ground.

– You can’t just bite into them. They require planning and preparation.

– They have many seeds which can be sown.

– The heart is the sweetest and juiciest part.

– They are thick-skinned.

– They can feed many.

What watermelon are you tripping over today?