Shaming the Impossible

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If there are two things that I have learned that have truly defined my life, it’s that nothing is impossible and no prayer is too small.

I work by day as an attorney. Like everyone, I have work on my desk that I can never get myself around to doing. From time to time, I will glance at them periodically, flip through them, maybe move them to a different spot on my desk. Anything to avoid actually tackling them. These are the kinds of projects you hate working on because you know your chances of winning are so slim. Sometimes those files will sit and sit until I have no choice but to face them.

Today was such a case. We had a problem trademark application file that had been passed around for years. Other attorneys in my office had been trying to get the application through for years, with no success. When the file eventually found its way to me, it was like it was on death row, just waiting for its final sentence. Having been rejected twice already, we were facing our last opportunity to get the application through for our client. There were no extensions of time left. It was our last shot.

Because the deadline was approaching soon, I had to face the facts. We didn’t have a good argument. We tried twice before and the Examiner rejected us, emphasizing again and again why the application wasn’t going to go through. I had to call the Examiner on the phone to try and persuade him to let our application through. But before I called, I decided I should pray.

My wife used to think it was funny that I would pray for every little thing, big or small. It was almost as if praying for a small thing would “waste” or “use up” your “Yes’s” from God. Or as if God is busy with the cares of all the people in the world and should only be bothered for big huge crisis situations. Or as if praying for little things was just selfish when it’s not that big of deal. But over the last few years, God has shown both of us how he moves in both the big and the small:

So today I decided I would pray. Even though this was small, it was also impossible. And God’s specialty – God’s signature – is doing the impossible. I closed the door of my office and started to pray.

“God, I thank you that with man this may be impossible, but with God all things are possible,” I prayed. “I thank you that nothing is impossible for you and nothing is too small for you. I declare your favor and your blessing over this application in the name of Jesus, and I declare that the Examiner’s heart will be softened towards me and towards our case. And that our application will be approved, in Jesus name. Thank you for your favor, Lord.”

With new boldness, I called the Examiner. I was somehow expecting that by the power of prayer, he would have fallen off his chair in Washington, D.C. encountered by the presence of the almighty, having a Saul of Tarsus type moment, encountered by the greatness of God with the clear words from a booming voice in the sky along the lines of “You shalt approve this application!” But no. I got the usual excellent “customer service” you would expect from a government employee. The typical one word answers. The sighs with each forced explanation strained out of him. He sounded tired, irritated, or both. But I believed.

I tried everything in my persuasive lawyer’s handbook. I tried to argue why we were right and the rejections were wrong. But all the man would say over and over again was how we had filed the application wrong, and it wouldn’t go through the way it was and we had no choice but to refile, losing our place in line after five years of waiting. It was looking bleak. He wasn’t buying anything I was saying. I asked him how other applicants had gotten similar applications through, and he said this was the first of its kind he had seen, so there were no other examples we could refer to.

I decided to try one last thing. I explained how we were using our trademark on iTunes and that it would seem to meet what he was looking for. He paused for a moment, sighed again and then said “Okay, send me an email with a screenshot and then I’ll let you know what I think.” Finally, a faint glimmer of hope!

So I emailed the Examiner a screenshot. A few minutes later his response email came into my inbox. I sat there looking at the new message notification, not wanting to open it, thinking “this is it. I have no other tricks up my sleeve. If this doesn’t work, I’ll have to explain why this application went wrong to the client.” I prayed again under my breath and almost closed my eyes as I opened his message.

A smile came on my face. Out of nowhere, the Examiner had found other applications that were similar that had gotten through with similar circumstances. And he said he was going to let ours through!

We tried two other times over the past year and a half, and never once had he mentioned the other applications. Not only that, but in a matter of minutes, he went from stonewalled curmudgeon government employee to the friendliest guy on earth. Even sending me a kind reply email, saying he was happy to help. I would have never expected that. Now that was favor from on high.

After years of failing and being rejected, something had changed. And that something was prayer.

I want to encourage you, that whatever impossible situation you are facing, God is in the business of shaming the impossible. Be it a big huge crisis, or a mundane everyday challenge, God is not too good to hear you.  How much could change if we only took the time to ask?


Image Credit: Unsplash / Craig Garner