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Sunday, October 7, 2012

Stu's Prayer

This afternoon, Stu told me about a prayer he had prayed recently.
He said he had been gripped by a thought about what might happen to him in the future.
"What if I die homeless?"  is how he put it to me. 
Unlikely as it might be, the thought had teeth, and it worried him without mercy, as such thoughts do.
He tells me he prayed a specific prayer.
"Lord"  he said "please send me a sign that there are people who will love me and take care of me".

This morning, he tells me he got the answer to that prayer, in no uncertain terms.
In the first place, one of the kind men from NewSong, the church next door, offered to escort Stu over there for the Sunday service.
To multiply the blessing, our son-in-law Jerome and Rachel decided they'd like to join him at the service, too.  They've been thinking along those lines for a couple of weeks, but it's interesting to me that today was the day they decided to follow through.

This afternoon, as I visited with him, I listened to the way it impacted him.  Glad I was wearing an absorbent scarf-----when my grateful tears started to flow, I needed it.(I did find some Kleenex when it was time to blow my nose :-)  Ha!

"Sue, it was so wonderful.  Aaron came over a little after 9:30, and he walked over with me and helped me with my wheelchair.  And then his wife Angie brought me a doughnut and a cup of coffee.  That doughnut was so good, Sue.  God just let me enjoy it.  And Angie brushed the crumbs off of me, just like you would.  She was so kind."  He went on to mention several other people who greeted him and welcomed him, and was obviously heartened by their warmth. 
"Then," he said, "when the service started, I was sitting right where we sit when you come on Wednesday, and we were singing a wonderful song about God's glory, when I felt a hand on my shoulder, and it was Jerome!  And right to my right was Shayna, with the sweetest smile.  I started crying then.  But I really started crying when I saw Rachel.  She told me they wanted to come and join me at church, and I knew it was God answering my prayer"

Well......the story stands all by itself.  But I wonder if you will stay and look at it with me for just a minute, to appreciate the layers of meaning in it.  Because this was not just one man's prayer that affected one man.   And really, because of God's nature, every prayer is multi-layered and reverberating.    In this one small example, a prayer of my own was acknowledged.  I am always praying that Stu will experience God's love without me as a "middleman".   The more he takes his own steps of faith, the more he owns it.   And I would say that God was encouraging Aaron and Angie and the other folks at NewSong as they ministered to Stu;  likewise,  Rachel and Jerome.  I think of the impact that such events have on my grandkids, and my imagination is not big enough to contain the depth of it.  And then there is the staff at the nursing home, seeing  the story play out.  And the other members of the church.......are you with me?  It opens up your mind to vast possibilities, doesn't it?   And you know, friends, I would say that the power of prayer is in that opening up of our minds to the Greatest Mind, the Creator.  When we get a glimpse of who he is, worry and fear are eclipsed by the wonder of his goodness.   My own overarching prayer for every one of us is that we would "taste and see that the Lord is good".  

Until next time!

Sue



Thursday, October 4, 2012

Power

Many years ago, when I was in my twenties, I went to visit my parents in Big Bear Lake, California.   During my visit, my Dad suggested we take a canoe across the lake to visit a friend on the other side.  I had never rowed before, and I remember  being very gung-ho and wanting to do my part in getting us across that lake.

Big Bear Lake is pretty broad, though.  Halfway across, my arms were aching and I was puffing.  I had to take a break, feeling like I was somehow letting my Dad down.

The next minute I felt a surge of power shooting us across the lake.  The canoe was cutting through the water effortlessly----I looked behind me in the canoe and saw my Dad, smiling and getting us across the lake in no time.  I don't think he had any idea what had been going through my mind-----it was no big deal for him.  But the little picture has stayed etched on my mind ever since.  Whenever I feel like I need to "row as hard as I can",  I take it with a grain of salt.  There's Someone bigger and much better equipped than I am to get me where I need to go :-)

Fast forward to 2012.  
Stu and I are at the little church next door to the nursing home,  enjoying an evening of worship music.  (NewSong is blessed with quite a few excellent musicians, I have noticed, including the pastor!)   The evening is drawing to a close, and by this time I am standing up, behind Stu's wheelchair, my arms around his neck and using his chest as a drum.  We are both singing loudly, but at the same time I am reflecting that in the old days, Stu would have had many sharp criticisms of the music, the people, the church, the community----you name it, he would have had something to say about it.   So much of that has melted away since the stroke!  A miracle!    In those days, I often despaired of ever being able to share with Stu the sweetness of just enjoying and loving God's people, singing with them, praying with them, caring about them, worshiping our Father together.   I tried, sometimes, to find some way to cross that gulf myself----to row across that "lake".  Lake Skeptic, you might say!   But my efforts always failed.  I was forced to stop trying.  And in the not trying.....in the surrender (an ongoing surrender, I must tell you) .....I feel the surge of power.  I feel great Shoulders at work, navigating waters I can't understand,  and I take a big, deep breath of relief.  I know He will smile when I feel ready to row again, and maybe even give me pointers on doing it better-----but our destination doesn't depend on me.  He just gives me the sense of participation because............He's my Dad, and every good Dad loves to include and encourage his kids

I think the following passage, from Paul's letter to the Ephesians, illustrates God's character and his relationship with us.  Notice that it is a power that originates with God, but is shared and nurtured in us by Him:
"I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith.  And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power together with all the saints to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.
     Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to the power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen."   Eph. 3: 16-21