One side effect of not owning a car during my first year of college was that I played a lot of pool. On Friday nights, while the rest of my classmates were out making good on the "ring by spring" guarantee, I headed over to the rec center and chalked up a cue. I got good enough that eventually, the games progressed from playing "slop" — accepting any erratic motion of the balls as acceptable plays — to "calling the shots" — you verbalized the outcome of your shot before you took it, and if you didn't make what you called, you were penalized by having one of your previous balls put back on the table. (We played mean.)
Now, I tell you that story, in order to tell you this one:
Back before we had kids, Deborah used to sit down with me, and tell me her plan for having children. I used to just stare at her as she rattled off the plan, which went something like this:
OK, I'm going to get pregnant at the beginning of the school year, and so I won't have to take any time off, and spend the summer with the baby. I think I'd like a girl the first time. Then, maybe two years later, we'll have another kid. And also, I want twins. Wouldn't that be great? Two for the price of one!
I tried explaining that it didn't work that way. You didn't get to specify when, or the sex of the child, and you certainly couldn't specify twins. But Deborah stubbornly refused to listen to reason, and went ahead and brought two wonderful little kids into the world, almost exactly on target with what she'd predicted. So when Deborah told me she was praying for twins next, I listened. And a few weeks ago, Deborah walked into the living room, and pointedly picked up a pregnancy book and started reading it.
"So, what were the results?" I asked, suspicious.
"November 9," she smiled, "twins."
That's not exactly the sort of prediction you can glean from a simple home pregnancy test. I had zero evidence. I knew it was true anyway.
But even with that, for the last week or so, I've been going about, joking that "Deborah says we're having twins next, but that I want to see the ultrasound before I buy the minivan."
It was funny, it made me sound sane (and Deborah a little less so), but... a little part of me died every time I said it. I knew it was true, but I was hiding it. I was trying to play slop.
I knew it partly because Deborah asked for it. And I knew it partly because God asked me if that was OK. After a few years, I started answering "yes..." and then a little while later, "yes," and then "yes!"
So does God do what I want? Did he need my permission? No. What do I make of Deborah getting exactly what she asked for, every time? Is she so in touch with God, that He gives her exactly what she asks for? Yes, and No. It's more complex than that, and it's simpler, too. God wanted to give us twins, and gave Deborah the desire to pray for that. Her 100% record of getting what she's prayed for isn't the result of her getting God to do what she wants. Her prayers were God bringing her to desire what He wanted.
God's been taking me to task for playing slop.
So: Twins, corner pocket, late October or early November. There. I've called the shot — although the balls are already in motion, and the stroke was never mine to begin with.