Cleopatra's Nose

In his Pensees Blaise Pascal, the French mathematician and Christian philosopher, once wrote of her nose: “Cleopatra’s nose: if it had been shorter the whole face of the earth would have been different” (no. 413). His point? Had not Mark Anthony, the Roman general, been smitten by the Egyptian monarch’s beauty, he would never have fought a war for her, would never have upset the Roman Empire, would never have changed subsequent history, including the very history we live today. All because of Cleopatra’s nose, as Pascal put it: “This indefinable something, so trifling that we cannot recognize it, upsets the whole earth, princes, armies, the entire world.”

The philosopher Peter Kreeft reflects on how, in fact, we all experience the “Cleopatra’s nose principle”: “If one of a million sperm cells had not successfully hailed the taxi of your mother’s ovum but another had gotten in instead, you would be a totally different person. If your grandfather hadn’t gotten a crick in his neck and turned his head the wrong way one day and noticed your grandmother walking down the street with a pleasing girlish gait, he would never have met her and married her, and you would never have been born.” Kreeft’s point about Pascal’s pensee: “enormous things constantly depend on tiny things” (Christianity for Modern Pagans: Pascal’s Pensees Edited, Outlined and Explained 83).

“Enormous things” really do depend on “tiny things,” don’t they? Benjamin Franklin wrote:

For the want of a nail the shoe was lost,
For the want of a shoe the horse was lost,
For the want of a horse the rider was lost,
For the want of a rider the battle was lost,
For the want of a battle the kingdom was lost,
And all for the want of a horseshoe-nail. (

“Enormous things constantly depend on tiny things.”

Could that be true for the realm of the Spirit as well? Can a single prayer, prayed by a simple heart, move the Hand that moves the world? 

I’m always intrigued by the number of times (in the upper room on the night before His execution) Jesus urges His followers to ask Him for anything: # 1—“I will do whatever you ask in My name” (John 14:13); #2—“You may ask Me for anything in My name, and I will do it” (14:14); #3—“Ask whatever you wish and it will be done for you” (15:7); #4—“Whatever you ask in My name the Father will give you” (15:16); #5—“My Father will give you whatever you ask in My name” (16:23); #6—“Ask and you will receive, and your joy will be complete” (16:24); and #7—“In that day you will ask in My name” (16:26).

Seven times in a single evening, the Savior of the world urges us to ask Him in prayer for what it is our hearts need most. It must be true—a single prayer, prayed by a simple heart, can indeed move the Hand that moves the world. One prayer. “Enormous things constantly depend on tiny things.”

Then why are we so hesitant, so reticent to pray that prayer, to ask as a child asks her daddy? Of all seasons of the year, Christmas is when the hearts of children joyfully, confidently ask for their heart’s desire. “‘If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!’” (Luke 11:13) After all, “With the reception of this gift, all other gifts would be ours; for we are to have this gift [of the Holy Spirit] according to the plentitude of the riches of the grace of Christ, and He is ready to supply every soul according to the capacity to receive” (Ye Shall Receive Power 221 emphasis supplied). A single prayer from a simple heart—and the Gift that brings “all other gifts” would be ours. This Christmas. This New Year. In fact, right now.

Then—given the times in which we struggle to live—shall we not ask as never before? Forget Cleopatra’s nose—it is the Father’s heart that compels us.


Excellent, Pastor Dwight! But considering all the people who have prayed earnestly for Shallena Crounse's complete healing, what if He doesn't? From your message here, it just sounds like "prayer is the key that unlocks Heaven's storehouse," as it says. Why don't we see more affirmative answers? You will probably say God knows the end from the beginning and if we did, we wouldn't have it any other way! Really? I doubt Jamie and Shallena's family would ever choose to be without her! (Just one example--there are hundreds, thousands.) God gives us the strength to go on when our loved ones die, but that doesn't mean that we ever get over the brokenness of their deaths! All those "whatevers" in the account above, don't seem to be restrictive to any certain kind of request. In my heart, I'm not bitter at God, but when the above story is recounted time and again, my heart "just doesn't get it!" I hope you are going to address this on Sabbath!!! Oh, but I was planning to go hear David Ferguson's Farewell sermon..... But if I do, I will sure to listen to yours later! Thank you!!

Lord please heal Shallena in Jesus Name Amen Father You know that we don't always get what You are doing, I too "do not get it" at times, I pray that You will show Yourself to us in a new way, let our hearts "just get it", get what? A touch of Your love, a huge outpouring of Your grace through the Holy Spirit, an answer to our hearts cries, a powerful God that shows mercy, opens doors, heals our wounds, dries our tears and equips us to do so for others. Lord this I pray in Jesus Name Amen

Rosie, I understand. I have not stopped thinking about what you said because it rings so true to my own experience. The prayers I wrote in the comment, I pray with all sincerity because a time will come where healing will occur, people will believe and see the miraculous. It does seem as if there is a veil between me and God. He has been silent for 14 years. I will never forget my mothers comment to me in hospital when my brother passed away. "Bev, please dont be angry with God.". Really, God is supposed to heal. The year before that my father in law passed away, the year after that 62 funerals (friends, church members, sports associates, fellow workers) in 3 months,of which one was my mother in law, Obviously, I questioned why the God I served, read about, believed in was not healing people. A year ago I stood in ICU looking at my dad, wondering if God was going to heal him. Some Christian friends would say "just believe" and I hated those comments, "just pray", and the "what if He doesnt" also arose during that time. Dad cam out of ICU but for months did not eat and was fading away. Then suddenly, he started coming right and for this I thank God. Have I questioned God, yes, you only have to read Isaiah and look at what Jesus did when He was on this earth., then why did He not heal all these people? I don't have an answer for you, I am certainly not going to tell you "just believe". All I hold onto is that in Isaiah He made promises that "a time will come............". I pray that a time will come for you too. A time of healing, restoration, joy and most of all peace. I have spent a number of hours this day thinking about you, praying that God will reveal Himself to you, crying as i understand where you are in this walk with God. If i were to meet you, I would only have a hug for you and no words, and even that will not be enough because only God can touch where it is hurting, where we dont understand, where our "I dont get it" is. I pray that God will bless you, that He will favour you and give you peace.

Thanks Dwight.....Powerful reminder of God's deep sensitivity to us as his children. As Rosie notes, we will never see all that He sees, nor always see our prayers answered, and that is hard on our faith and trust in his goodness. Which is probably why he repeatedly told us to ask and repeatedly reminded us of his willingness to listen and respond. It is precisely these passages you shared that keep us asking, talking, dialoguing, from our heart to His so when the results may be No for our requests we still believe his heart is always YES to us his children.....A tension IN relationship, not OUT of it. Duane

The promises are so refreshing and uplifting in our times of need. It's the waiting to see the answers come into place sometimes brings fear or anguish that is difficult to squash or banish, but then when we remember the promise "I will never leave nor forsake you" that He gently impresses our mind and heart...We then take a deep breath and wait patiently for His leading in the next step to take. Thus we become a work in His process of sharing our really knowing....Jesus can, and still gives us joy in living; no matter how difficult the road ahead looks.

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