Much to my surprise, I spent a tremendous amount of time outdoors during my time away.
I took several long walks on pathways and across fields.
The one prayer I repeated over and over was simple: "Lord, please don't let me run into a snake. I'd rather come across a bear than a snake. Please don't let me see a snake. Please.
"And while I'm asking for protection, I'd like to ask that I not step into a hole and break an ankle. I'd like to avoid contracting lyme disease from tics out here. And, one last thing, I'd prefer not to be stung by a bee or wasp. That's all I need right now, Lord. I'm sure I'll be back asking for something else in just a little while - but this is all I need for now."
I'm not saying that I heard an audible answer from God. That is not my claim at all.
But there was a definite and clear response to my request.
The answer came in the form of a verse I know well:
"Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil for you are with me."
In other words: "I'm not promising that you won't run into a snake. I'm not promising that you won't step into a hole, break a bone, and have to crawl back to the center. I'm not promising that you won't be stung by a bee or a wasp. While I've got your attention, I will go ahead and add a few things to this list that you didn't ask for - this time. I'm not promising that your child will not get sick again, that your husband will not lose his job, or that you will always be as healthy as you are right now. I'm not promising a balanced economy, easy friendships, or a soul-strengthening easy-fit into a faith community. I'm not promising any of the things you have asked me for so often.