Copyright 2008  B. L. Schappell


There’s an old adage that warns us to be careful what we ask for, because

we just might get it.  To that counsel you may add: Be especially mindful

of the things you pray for, for precisely that same reason.  Experience is

speaking here!


I had scheduled a medical consultation in the Washington, DC area and was

dreading the prospect of an early-morning trek into unfamiliar territory,

amid droves of rabid, work-bound commuters.  That sounded like one

humongous slog to me.


Then, the day before my appointment, this idea popped into my cranium:

What if my wife and I were to take a leisurely drive down to DC tonight,

instead of tomorrow morning, and grab a motel room near the hospital? 

Traffic should be tolerable by that time of the evening.  Moreover, we

wouldn’t have to arise before the rooster to head out for our commitment. 

There would then remain just a short jaunt after a good night’s sleep and a

casual breakfast.  Now, that sounded like a fantastic idea!


What’s that they used to say about pig’s flying?  I wish I had paid more

attention to “folk wisdom” when I was young.



It was a very pleasant, late-Spring evening as we cruised through

Southeastern Pennsylvania, deep into Maryland, around Baltimore to the

outskirts of Washington. 


The perennial optimist, I began searching in the immediate vicinity of the

hospital for accommodations for the night, but one motel after another in the

area was filled.  We then migrated outward in ever-widening circles, without

success.   We tried up the pike, down the pike, across the pike, over the river,

through the woods, and literally up into the next county to the north, back

toward home, but found no opening.   There was not one vacancy to be found. 

All were jammed. 


The explanation we received at most places was that there was a big

conference or convention running through the entire week, which involved

all the area colleges and universities.


My wife wondered aloud whether we should just sleep in the car, but I

countered that I would still require a shower before seeing the doctor; plus I

didn’t want to appear as though I had spent the night in the hamper.   “Well, let’s

try farther up the road,” I mumbled.


After another hour of futility, my bleary-eyed spouse suggested that possibly

she should inquire at the next motel.  “They might have more compassion for a

very sleepy lady,” she reasoned.  Who was I to argue with that logic?


As I watched her spunky little form bravely make its way through the doorway

of that umpteenth motel, I prayed aloud, “Lord, have mercy on us in our

simple need for a place to catch a few winks of sleep.  Won’t you please help us

find a room?  Even if it’s just ‘a hole in the wall’, we really do need a safe place to

crash for what’s left of this night.”


By now, my wife had returned to the car, shaking her head east-to-west.  I

thanked her for her valiant effort, and assured her we would be finding a place,

because I had asked our Lord to intervene on our behalf.  Why had I waited so

long before turning to The One Who faithfully supplies our needs?


We pulled out onto the highway and continued North, even farther in the

opposite direction from tomorrow’s appointment.   Presently, we came upon a

large motel complex with units on both sides of the highway.  I drove up to the

office and, looking at my watch, exclaimed, “Tomorrow?  It is tomorrow!”


As I trudged up to the window, the little man at the desk said, “You want a

room?  We got a room for you.  Come!”


“Oh, thank you, Lord!”  We became about as ecstatic as can be expected of a

semi-comatose pair, but our enthusiasm lasted only until we peeked into our



“Yikes!” whispered my wife, rolling her eyes.  “This is a dump!   What on earth

did you pray for?”  I pretended I didn’t hear her.


The bad news was the room was littered with roaches; but the good news was

they were all dead.  Wall-to-wall across the floor, on the sink, in the tub, not a

creature was stirring.  Good news indeed, though this was not a laughing

matter – not yet.


The hysterics didn’t begin until we slipped into the bed from opposite sides and

immediately rolled involuntarily down into the center, clacking into each

other like bowling pins in the gutter.   That old rack was more sway-backed

than a nag headed for the glue factory.  In fact, we could have brought our

skateboards and used it as a nifty half-pipe!


Needless to say, the waning, wee hours of the morning were anything but

restful.  Dawn came none too soon after perhaps four hours of drifting in and

out of consciousness while clinging tenaciously to the outer edges of the

mattress for lateral stability. 


Now, have you ever showered on your tiptoes?  Or attempted to complete your

morning routine without touching anything?  Of course, we were grateful that

God had opened a way through a seemingly impossible situation to provide a

place to sleep and prepare for our commitment, but this was, beyond question,

not what I had in mind when I petitioned for Divine Intervention the night



A quick time-check and subsequent calculation of our geographical location

revealed that there would be no time for even a crumb of breakfast, as we were

approximately an hour from our intended destination, with the appointment

scheduled in one hour.


So, with sleepy eyes and growling tummies, we passed the next 60 minutes

doing the curb-side crawl, eeking our way bumper-to-bumper into the city to

my consultation.


Through the laughter and the gaping yawns during our drive back home that

afternoon, Elsa and I re-hashed, analyzed, and assimilated a monumental

lesson from our experience.


Deep in my heart of hearts, I knew that I had created this fiasco myself by not

exercising adequate faith – which God has given to all who trust wholly in Him –

that He would care for the entirety of our requirement that night.  In my

desperation and discouragement, in the wake of too many hours of exhaustive

searching for a place to stay, my wimpy prayer minimized our need as well as

God’s willingness to fulfill it.


I had frittered away that entire evening, following my own plan, searching in

my own strength, employing my own feeble, mortal “wisdom”.  Then, after

exhausting all apparent options, I finally turned to the Lord for assistance,

requesting and settling for bare-bones minimal accommodations, because

that’s all I asked Him for.


Did He give us precisely what I had requested?  Yes, I believe He did, and quite

promptly, I might add.  Did we receive all He would have loved to provide? I

think not, because I was too eager to settle for a roach motel, when He always

has something much finer in mind for us.  (John 14:2)


God is so very, very good.  He has promised to supply our every need.   His Word

tells us we may come confidently before our Father (Heb 4:16)and ask Him for

the things we need (Matt 7:7-11), knowing that He delights in providing them

all.  Does He not reveal Himself as “Jehovah Jirah”, our Divine Provider?  That’s

His name!   It’s Who He is!  That’s what He does!


The Apostle James chides that we have not because we ask not (James 4:2), and

assures us that the genuine, persistent prayer of the righteous man packs some

serious “juice” before the Throne of Grace! (James 5:7).


These are trying times in which we are driven by nearly-impossible time 

constraints and must often contend with difficult temperaments.  But ours

is a God Who is able to guide us through the straits, if we are willing to trust and

follow.  And He desires to empower and bless us beyond anything we can ever

imagine, if we are willing to walk with Him, day by day, moment by moment.


The Psalmist invites, “Taste and see that the Lord is good”.  Yes, you know He

is!  And our earnest, fervent, prayer is the master key that unlocks the door to

His countless blessings.