When my first son was about 2 and a half years old there was a week that I will always remember. He came out of his room on night and said “There’s a Hippo in my room Daddy.” Like any good conscientious parent I said, “no there’s not, now go back to bed” or something equally comforting. But he insisted and I went to his room, opened the door, turned on the light, and showed him that there was no hippo there.
The next night the same thing happened, and I began to wonder where this game had come from. Several times again that night, he insisted that there was a hippo in his room. “go back to bed” was the compassionate reply.
Finally, on the third or fourth night of this, I used his first AND middle name for emphasis, “I’ve come to your room each night and shown you that there is no hippopotamus in your room. It’s in your imagination. Now please go back to bed and go to sleep.”
“But Daddy”, he replied in exasperation, “when you come in the hippo go whee whee away gone. Come see.” Now, this was the first time I had heard this particular part of the story so I thought I would check it out, at very least to put him back in his bed.
I walked into his room, closing the door, turning the lights off, and intending to say “Now Samuel, there is no hippopotamus in your room.” But by the time I had gotten halfway through the word hippopotamus, I stopped with just the “oh” hanging on my lips. After I the lights had gone out and with the door closed, the night light near the floor blinked on, and there in all its monstrous glory was the shadow of a 10’ tall hippopotamus on the wall. Now of course, there was no hippo, but the night light and the teddy bear propped on top of the dresser conspired to make, under these specific circumstances, the shadow of the elusive beast.
This particular tale has haunted me. The moral of this story didn’t jump out at me like the hippo eventually did. It was a cute story, but it kept itching away at me, that there was more to it, that I just wasn’t getting the message. And then there it was. The Lord opened my eyes and I realized that the story was about persistence. There my little tike was insistent that there was something in his room, but he would eventually go to bed with my urgings. But he did not give up. Every night, SEVERAL times a night, he would come and tell me again, and again. Now we know our Heavenly Father knows our hearts and the deepest truth before we even begin to pray, so we don’t have to convince him that there is a hippo in our room, but he tells us, in Luke 18:1-8 about the widow seeks her petition with persistence and is heard by even a sinful judge.
Even the fact that this story kept bugging me, and itching at me, is a story of persistence in itself. It was probably a year later before it occurred to me what lesson was and why it kept knocking at my mind. There are many times when I will offer up a quick request about something that is important. If you measured the importance of the issue by the length of time I spent praying about it, my petition would fall flat. Romans 8:26 offers me comfort that the Holy Spirit is interceding on my behalf, but how much more would my cares, worries, fears, and hopes be heard if I spent half as much time praying about them as worrying about them. Pray without ceasing and rest assured that the answer will come and will always be what is perfect for you.