Tag Archives: Answered Prayer

Feeding 5,000 & Other Miracles

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Feeding 5,000 & Other Miracles

Recently we discussed the miracle of Jesus feeding the 5,000 in a Bible Bite of John 6:12, which if you missed, you can just click HERE and have a nosh.

But let’s not stop there.  I wanted to turn that Bible Bite into a full blown Scripture Snack and look at the next verse too!

So they collected them and filled 12 baskets with the pieces from the five barley loaves that were left over by those who had eaten. ~ John 6:13

What’s so interesting is that along with John, Matthew, Mark, and Luke all record this miracle and each mentions 12 baskets of scraps.  In the Bible, the number 12 usually signifies God’s power and authority.  There were 12 tribes of Israel, 12 disciples, 12,000 of 12 tribes (144,000) to witness in the end times. {Check out biblestudy.org which goes into great detail about the number 12 in the Bible.}

It’s certainly a marvelous display of His divine authority to multiply five barley cakes and two fish from a young boy’s sack lunch!

Loaves and FishesWe don’t know how large the baskets were.  Were they small handmaiden, Sunday-go-to-meetin’ baskets or were they large collecting hay and straw baskets?  Does it matter?  There were over 5,000 people that ate their supper on a mountainside that day provided by a blessed-by-God sack lunch.

Who is this then who can feed over 5,000 with a few choice items?

And does He continue to send us the miracle of multiplication today?  He sure does, and I’m a witness.

Dateline Chandler, Arizona and I was attending a small group going through the ALPHA program.  The hosts are a lovely couple and each Wednesday night as we gathered for group, they would feed us dinner prior to our worship and study.  Eventually the group began to divvy up the responsibility and soon we were each bringing a portion – making it a pot luck meal.  It’s also important to know that the hosts have two sons that were both steeped in ministry in different churches.  So we had a core group of 12 participants plus at any given time we might have up to 4 guests.

One week, close to the end of the program, we had planned a fried chicken dinner.  Two people would each bring a 20-piece bucket of chicken from KFC and the rest of us added the sides and desserts.  On that Wednesday night I arrived with my ‘famous’ potato salad in hand, and walked into the house where an issue was erupting – one of the group members’ car had broken down and two people had forgotten their food.  The main concern was that the person who had broken down was one of the ones that was supposed to bring chicken making our total 20 pieces chicken for 13 people.

We decided as a group that we’d start by everyone having one piece of chicken and load up on sides.  I took a thigh and passed the bucket to the man next to me who loaded his plate with three pieces!  I started to say something but then realized that (1) he hadn’t been in the room when we discussed the one-piece business and (2) the bucket was almost around the table so everyone would get chicken.

After we’d finished eating a couple of the participants had gotten up for seconds and the guy who had been next to me walked back to the table with another piece of chicken!  My mouth watered as I watched him tuck in so I got up hoping that there might be a wing left in the bucket.  I peered in and was surprised to see two pieces of chicken left – a wing and a thigh.  I scooped up the wing and made quick work of it.

We finished dinner and moved into the living room to begin the study.  While we were immersed in Pastor Gumbel’s video message and subsequent discussion, the host’s two sons arrived.  I overheard their Mom tell them that there probably wasn’t much left but they were welcome to whatever was there.  We continued to discuss our study and both sons filled their plates and came in to join us.  I was amazed to see that BOTH had TWO pieces of chicken on their plates!  Driving home that evening I contemplated chicken.

When I took the last wing out of the bucket there was one piece left – a thigh.  I quickly start to think about what everyone ate at dinner.  I know that 4 guys had (at least) 2 pieces each (8), I had 2 pieces (10), the guy next to me had 4 pieces (14), and everyone at the table ate chicken so I figured that the remaining 4 women and 3 children each had one piece (21) and then the boys came home and had 2 pieces each (25).  I was astounded!  I counted up the numbers over and over making sure my math was right.

Arriving at ALPHA the next week I was so enthusiastic to discuss my observations I didn’t even sit down before starting, “Before we get started I have to discuss something about last week’s dinner.”

The group looked expectantly at me and the host blurted out, “The miracle of multiplication!”  Apparently I wasn’t the only one who had caught what God had done.  I smiled and looked at him, his eyes were twinkling.

“We witnessed a miracle, didn’t we?” I asked.  He agreed and we filled the group in on what had happened.  As I laid out what I deduced I was interrupted as several of guys revealed they’d actually had three pieces and a couple of the ladies had two rather than the one I’d concluded.  If all that wasn’t amazing enough … remember the guy who sat next to me stuffing down all that chicken?  He pronounced that he couldn’t believe I’d left that thigh in the bucket and figuring that everyone was done eating, he ate the thigh!  That meant that by the time the host’s sons arrived, there actually was an empty bucket – should have been an empty bucket and yet they pulled out 4 pieces of chicken.  Isn’t God great?  We had such a glorious time of worship that night … pouring out our love to our Father … our amazing Provider.

In hind sight it was silly, really. God providing chicken to some of the best fed people in the world.  He didn’t have to do it, no one in that room was anywhere close to actual need, no one was going to go hungry, and no one was dying of starvation.  But He did it anyway ~ He broke chicken and fed us all until we were full with no scraps left over.

What a blessing!  How astounding that the Creator of the Universe provides for us!

Has He provided for you in some manner?  Let me know!

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*** One other juicy tidbit: this miracle (the feeding of the 5,000) is one of only two miracles that appear in all four Gospels.  The other being Jesus’ own resurrection.

 

Through Jesus’ Eyes

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Through Jesus’ Eyes

I was thinking the other day about how Jesus loved everyone while He walked on earth.  Of course He loves everyone even today, but think about it.  He loved every sinner … the lame, the diseased, the hungry, the poor, the disciples, Herod, the Pharisees, the Sadducees, and even us, before we were born.  Every. Single. One.

And we’re supposed to be like Him.

Huh?

I can’t do that.

I want to, but I always seem to fall short of the goal.  My selfish nature worms its way into the mix and trips me up.

Oh, I’ve gotten better at it the longer I’ve walked with God, but it’s still a struggle and I often wonder if I’ll ever be like Christ.

Some of my favorite scriptures about this can be found in 1 John 3: 16, 18, and 23:

16 This is how we have come to know love: He laid down His life for us.  We should also lay down our lives for our brothers.

18 Little children, we must not love in word or speech, but in deed and truth;

23 Now this is His command: that we believe in the name of His Son, Jesus Christ, and love one another as He commanded us.

Can I love others better?

Absolutely.  I’d hate to think that I couldn’t grow from where I sit today.  But how to do that?  Where to start?

I started by asking God to help me to see people through His eyes.  He didn’t waste any time answering me.

Within days I noticed a slightly perceptible change in the way I was viewing people.  I might be able to describe the change like this … people started looking softer to me.  Fuzzy around the edges.  More pliable, perhaps weaker … but not in a bad way.  Easily injured.  Almost as though everyone’s heart was very close to the surface, even if they thought that they had thick skin.

Lots of changes came quickly for me after that, but most importantly was the way I treated others.  I became outwardly kinder – more considerate.  I’m softer with others.  Not so quick to judge.  And if I do make that mistake, I apologize – quickly – to the person and to God.

I also started really listening to the way people spoke to each other.  Sometimes I overhear one person talking to another and I cringe.  I wonder … if we even had half a clue about the damage our speech does to others would we stop?  Would we zip our lips?  If we could see the internal destruction, would we place our heads in our hands and cry?

If we didn’t I don’t think we could call ourselves Christ’s followers.

Will you try this, this weekend, dear friend?  Will you ask God to show you how He sees people?  Be ready.  He will do it and you will be astounded.

Prayer:

Father, please be gentle with us.  We know you want us to grow into a mirror image of your Son, but we are mere humans, warriors for you and yet fragile beings in this sinful world we live in.  Help us to view others through your eyes and keep us strong through the reality we will begin to see.  Through this change in understanding we will become stronger and more able to bring your love to the world.  In the name above every other name, our Jesus, I pray.  Amen.

Have a wonderful weekend everyone!

Demise of the Interloper ~ 2

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Demise of the Interloper ~ 2

This is Part 2 of a post that began last Friday.  I guarantee you’ll be confused if you didn’t read that so here’s a quick link so you can get caught up.  Part One

I stumbled because I didn’t realize it would be this hard or this painful.  I became so weak I wasn’t able to continue working on the project.  To finish what my Guardian wanted me to do – had promised I would do.  The visitor had other plans for me.  With every month that passed I became more and more frail and my dream of completing the project slipped further and further away.  I clung tightly to what my Maker promised like a life preserver flung to a drowning man, quietly repeating the words to myself, etching them into my soul.

God is not a man that he should lie, nor a son of man that he should change his mind. Does he speak and then not act?  Does he promise and not fulfill? ~ Numbers 23:19

No one told me that I would have such a difficult time removing the intruder when he decided to lay down his tentacles deep and strong.  He was solidly entrenched like a soldier avoiding enemy fire in a foxhole.  It would take more than me to do away with him and the Guardian called in the experts.

The professionals’ sole purpose was to exterminate him from my house.  They did all they could.  Not all at once of course, but in an orderly fashion, even though I wanted everyone to throw everything they had all at once at the poser.  Remove him quickly and once and for all.  They couldn’t do that, they said, but they came, one by one, to ply their various trades.

The first one brought in his knives and his lasers and attempted complete eradication.  He was a nice man with a quirky grin and a funny bounce in his step.  He was brilliantly superior to others in his field and got very close to ridding my home of the unwanted.  But in the end my enemy remained.  Sitting there with a stupid grin plastered on his face that if you looked at it long enough began to look maniacal and gave you the shivers.

The second professional was from Brazil and poured toxins all over the house which undoubtedly quieted the trespasser but made me sick in his wake.  He too, was very nice and enthusiastic and interestingly brought the same turkey sandwich to work each day for his lunch.  I wondered how someone could eat the same thing day after day, but never got up my nerve to ask.  His toxins wore me out and damaged me physically yet the interloper remained.  I’m pretty sure he was hiding under the bed in the guest bedroom.

Months ticked by as I lay in pain followed by exhaustion followed by nausea followed by more pain followed by more exhaustion.  The intruder triggered an endless loop that even though I knew it would eventually end – knew it had to end – there still seemed to be no escape.  When that helper left he told me confidently that he’d see me again, but as I shook his hand goodbye I secretly hoped I wouldn’t.

I leaned ever harder on my Guardian’s shoulder.  The peace He afforded me was almost more than I could bear.  He was so lofty, so far above me, how could He love me so?

You might wonder where my family and friends were in all this.  They were there helping, supporting, assisting me and the professionals as best they could.  They prayed diligently and there were times I felt enveloped in a cocoon of their prayers.

But, I worried about my parents.  I didn’t want them to have to watch me go through this.  I knew they thought often of what might be, projecting a future they couldn’t comprehend.  We’d lost my brother in a car accident at an absurdly early age and one night I lay in bed speaking softly to my Guardian, “I don’t want to go before them,” I whispered, tears slipping down my cheeks and wetting my pillow.  “Why should they have to battle through the death of another child?”

“They’re not going to lose you,” He said matter-of-factly.

I sighed and laid back, knowing it to be Truth.  “I will trust you,” I said as I turned over and drifted off to sleep, swearing I could hear my visitor in the kitchen rooting around for his late night snack.

When the intruder surfaced again, showing his hideous face and parading around the house, we brought in the third professional.  This last one was a handsome, serious, mastermind with a machine that loomed as big as a house.  He set it up and left it to run its course of pulsating photon radiation beams while I lay on a special bed to protect me.  For thirty-eight days I listened to noises that sounded like photon torpedoes firing out of the Enterprise at a cloaked Klingon vessel.  Could this be the answer?  I had a special bed, but the intruder didn’t.  Could I dare to expect that torpedoes would be the answer to destroying the nemesis that wouldn’t leave?  I prayed his aim was true.

When the last guy was done with his newfangled photons we knew we’d still have a long wait before we could determine if the intruder had finally backed his bags and left.

We waited and prayed.

And prayed.

And prayed.

I could hardly contain my anticipation, a part of me was still suspicious because the house was so silent, almost too silent.  It’d been over a year since I’d had real harmony in my home.  At times I wondered if I’d be able to exist without him.  Sometimes I held my breath and tip-toed around the house just to see if I could hear him breathing.  Perhaps he was just hiding in the basement and would pop out and scare me like a scene from Nightmare on Elm Street.

My Creator was silent too.  I expect He was sitting on His throne with a grin on His face.  He already knew my future.  He knew what was to become of me and He knew what had become of the interloper.  I was reminded of His promises and settled into a peaceful holding pattern.

But it was during a church service when the pastor prayed victory over anyone dealing with a thief in their home that my entire body trembled and every piece of my skin sprouted gooseflesh that I knew my home was healed.  I wanted to cry in relief and thanksgiving.  I looked heavenward and mouthed a silent, “Thank you.”

Three days later the professionals that my Guardian had called in to help arrived at my door.  Their joyful grins couldn’t contain the news they so desperately wanted to relay.  From Stage 4b to cancer free.

The intruder was gone.

She Lied

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She Lied

This is part six of a series on prayer asked and answered however, this post is the finale of the second act which began last Monday and continued Wednesday, if you need to return and catch up.

Over the next few months Lisa and I found each other on Facebook and I got to be a part of her life watching her son flourish and listening to tales from her job.  At some point I started seeing pictures of her and her son with her family, her son playing with his grandfather, trips together to exotic places.  I thought to myself, wait a minute, I thought these were the brutally, abusive grandparents?  There were spa trips with her mom while dad watched her child and professions of love for him on his birthday and father’s day.  The crux of all our prayer and concern was because she was a single mom with no family to turn to.  Now it seemed we had a very happy and well-to-do family that didn’t seem at all to be as she originally painted them.  I’m all for people changing but …

Should I be praising the Lord for a remarkable turnaround?

I started to wonder, could the whole thing have been a lie?  Did she just play us to get situated in a new apartment with money, food, and possessions?  We’d even fed her out of the women’s ministry emergency pantry – had she taken food that could have helped someone truly needy?  I asked God these questions, never receiving a clear answer, and continued to watch her life unfold on Facebook and at church.

Over the course of the following year I discovered that she actually had run from a bad situation in her previous marriage.  The ex-husband had committed adultery and was still attempting to get full custody of their child and other friends had been involved in transporting her to court.  Yet there was still no sign of an abusive relationship with her parents.  Lisa willingly and often put herself and her son in their home and continually posted pictures of her happy family.  I wondered if I should confront her and prayed, asking God that same question.  Still, no answer.

Sometime later we ended up at the same table for a function at church.  She sat next to me and we began to reminisce about when we’d met.  I pulled up my phone and retrieved the original blog post I’d written about her (essentially what you read on Monday and Wednesday of this week) and watched as she silently moved through the blog, reading.  At the end she gave me back my phone.  “That was a different time,” she said quietly, her head down.  I nodded and waited for more, kinda hoping for some inkling of regret or modicum of remorse and got nothing.

You, dear reader, are the first to hear the rest of the story.  Well … except for Paula.  I told her the rest of the story last week and it’s because of her that you’re hearing about it now.  Why?  Because as I was telling her the story I was thinking to myself ‘We may have been sucked into her tale of woe, but God doesn’t get duped.’

Why would God have provided all that He did for a liar and a cheat?

I’d asked Paula if she had an answer to that question and that’s when it hit me – to grow our faith.  The faith of everyone involved in God’s miraculous answer to prayer.

He grew Lisa’s faith by showing her how He works in the real world.  How she may have come out of a hopeless and loveless situation (and she did) but here were people who actually cared about her.  Godly women who didn’t know one iota about her dropped everything over the course of four days and with the help of the Lord, took care of her and her son.  The amount of love she felt had to have been overwhelming.  Other than the fact she was a young Christian, I had no idea where she was in her Christian walk at the time of our meeting.  Now I can see that she might have been having severe issues with her faith as her marriage had broken down.  I do know that she became a stronger woman of faith over the past few years.  Perhaps she had to witness the selfless love of others to get her started on that journey.

The entire situation also strengthened the faith of nine other women (and untold others on our periphery)  who got to be used by God to help the miracle play out.  From the moment that we prayed Ephesians 3:20 in the Spirit on Wednesday night until the last $20 bill came to me on Sunday morning, God continued to amaze and confound and astound.

Could it have been that all along?  That we all needed a big dose of faith-building?

Oh yeah … and I never did miss any of the money I spent on Lisa.  God has a marvelous way of altering what matters in your life.

So, what’s going on in your life where you need to pray the Ephesians 3:20 prayer?  Let me know so I can pray for you!

Have a wonderful weekend!

Stronger in Prayer ~ Praying Boldly

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Stronger in Prayer ~ Praying Boldly

We’re still talking about answered prayer and I wanted to relate this story specifically because even though God did mighty things at the time (2012) in hind sight (natch!) I can see immeasurably more purpose to His answering one simple prayer of a few women.  If you missed …   Monday, Wednesday, and/or Friday.

I looked up to find the women’s ministry director leading a young girl I’d never seen before to my table.  We’d finished our Priscilla Shirer program the week before and were set to see a new, stand-alone Priscilla video this evening.  Deb introduced me to the young woman (whom I’ll call Lisa) telling me that she had just wandered in, was given the option of our program or the Beth Moore study happening in the other room, and had chosen Priscilla.  I welcomed Lisa and pulled out the chair next to me.  Before the rest of my ladies arrived at the table, I discovered that she was a single mom of a 2 ½ year old boy and although she hadn’t quite said as much, she seemed to be in a bad place.

We watched the video which focused on the principles found in Ephesians 3:20-21 (NIV):

20Now to Him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to His power that is at work within us, 21to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever!  Amen. 

Priscilla’s main point was that God is able to do – for you – immeasurably more than you can imagine.  How many times do we squander our time with God asking for the easy?  The video had affected all of us at the table as several women, and Lisa sniffed and wiped away an errant tear or two.  I thought about my own expectations of God.  I realized I was tired of asking God for the minimum because I felt some sort of embarrassment regarding my need.

At the end of the video Priscilla had us turn to each other and speak truth into each other’s lives.  I turned immediately to Lisa and am not really sure what I said (evidence that the Holy Spirit had taken over) I just knew that by the time I was done she and I and half the table were crying.  I laughed as I wiped away the tears that were coursing down my cheeks saying, “Sorry, it’s the Holy Spirit.”  Lisa was smiling brightly and her eyes shown as if lit by some inner light.  It was clear that whatever the Holy Spirit had spoken to her, it was as if some sort of weight had been lifted from her soul.  That was when she told us her story.

Lisa had been a Christian for just a few short years, divorced her husband for adultery, received full custody of her child, and moved back to Florida to live with her parents.  She had been abused by her father when she was a child, but had some hope that he’d changed with age?  Time?  I don’t know, but she was proven wrong.  When her father continued his abuse of her and had included her child, she left.  Now it seemed she was working a part-time job, was unable to find an apartment due to her husband’s poor credit and her non-credit, and was couch hopping between a few friends – and on the days she couldn’t stay with them – was sleeping in her car.

The one bright spot in her tale of woe was that she did have an interview for a full-time position the following day.  One of the ladies at the table said, “We’ll pray for you.”  The same way we Christians always say, “I’ll pray for you,” and may or may not.  But I couldn’t get the message we’d just heard out of my mind and held out my hands to the young girl and the woman on my right and said, “With what we’ve just heard about Ephesians 3:20, let’s pray right now.”

Now to Him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to His power that is at work within us …  ~ Ephesians 3:20

I opened the prayer thanking God for bringing Lisa to our table … and then I thought about the promise of Ephesians 3:20 … and then I didn’t hold any punches.  I told God there was a reason He brought her to our table and asked Him squarely for a full-time job and an apartment for our young friend and her son.  She needed it now and not next month.  As the prayer grew and roamed around the table, the other ladies were equally as dynamic.  God had never heard such fervor from this group of women in any of our corporate prayer to this point.  We ended that that evening with my ladies pouring their hearts into this young woman and opening their wallets in aide.

The events in this post occurred on a Wednesday.  We Christians always talk about waiting on God because we’re also human and usually very impatient.  Some of my prayers take months and years to be answered (or at least for me to recognize the answer) and I often remind myself, “in God’s timing, not mine.”  But, it is absolutely refreshing when we can witness God work in an instant.  You’ll hear the rest of the story on Wednesday.

Please come back.

Stronger in Answered Prayer

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This is the third part of a post that began on Monday and continued Wednesday. Feel free to step back in time to catch up.  We’ll be right here when you return.

How much stronger can your faith be in answered prayer?  STRONG.  Maybe even Orlando Strong or Boston Strong or NYC Strong.  We should just call it USA Strong since our strength as a people is one of the identifying characteristics of Americans (even though this administration would rather just apologize for it).  We are strong and we’re not going to let a bunch of whiney jihadists following the alleged writings of some pagan god destroy the love that we have for one another.  OK – that’s my political speech for today.  Let’s get back to answered prayer … and for all of you praying that God would destroy (or turn) the terrorists, your prayers have already been answered.  Read Revelation.

When I was in the hospital facing an operation that might uncover that the worst of the worst diseases, cancer, had invaded my body; I knew a lot of people were praying for me.  A huge group of people at church, ladies I didn’t even know yet at Bible Study Fellowship, friends and their friends, blog readers (whom I count among my friends!), family, and (I would later find out) my parents friends and fellow country club members.  That was a whole host of people.  And you know what?

I felt every prayer.

Every. Prayer.

How?  Because before and after the surgery I felt as if a blanket of love had enveloped me.  Even when I awoke in the Recovery Room with my doctor’s hand gently laying on my arm, his little face smiling at me, and his warm eyes glowing – delivering the worst possible news – I still felt awash in a blanket of love.  OK, that could have been the drugs, but I don’t think so.  Because the same feeling persisted over the next few months as I went home, recuperated from the surgery and open wounds in my belly, and then started chemotherapy to kill what my doctor’s hands couldn’t.  I was buoyed by prayer and the warmth of a lot of love.  Praise Him that He hears the prayers of His saints.

Even when I sat in a hospital for 11 days and still hadn’t received a visit from any pastors in my church I prayed that God would send me a man of the cloth to talk to and pray with and within minutes the hospital Chaplin was at my door.  Praise Him!

Even when I wound up back in the hospital when a hematoma had burst under my incision and I had to receive a wound vacuum to help close the open wound, it didn’t look like it was going to happen.  I put a call in to three mighty prayer warriors to pray quickly to right what was going wrong.  In less than 15 minutes the situation became 100% positive.  The nurses said they never saw such progress.  I said, “You must not know my God.”  Praise Him for answered prayer!

All along this journey I (and others) have prayed and we’ve received answers to our prayers.  Although not always what we’ve prayed for or wanted.  I certainly didn’t want cancer, or an open would that would persist for six months, or weird salt & pepper curly hair, or neuropathy in my feet so bad that my toes feel perpetually stubbed.

But prayers always go answered.

Remember in Daniel 10 when the angel Gabriel told Daniel that his prayers had been heard immediately but he’d been fighting against Satan to get to Daniel with the answer and even needed Michael’s intervention to make it happen.  In some cases we might still be waiting for an answer to our prayer.  In others, and probably more frequently than we care to admit, it could be that we just don’t recognize the answer because we’re so set on what we want rather than God’s will for us that we don’t see it.

I remember a counselee talking to me about needing financial assistance.  There were several things happening in her life that could be covered easily if she’d only had more money.  She (and I) had been praying for a few weeks for a new, better paying job for her.  About four weeks into our sessions she came in really distraught that another interview had gone without a job offer.  It was getting down to the wire and she was getting more and more frustrated.  After we prayed again, we spent the rest of the time discussing the good things that were happening in her life.  As she spoke I got the sensation that I should be making a detailed list.  At the end of the session I was almost laughing out loud.  All of the “little good things” that had happened had removed the need for her to get a new job.  God had answered her prayer – just not in the way she thought she needed it.  Among other things, her two grown boys had both gotten jobs and agreed to pay $100 a month each to the household, her older son had taken on his responsibility for his car insurance, her father had gifted her with new tires for her car, and a neighbor had a garage sale which netted her a couple items she so desperately needed.  God didn’t want her in a new job.  He wanted her right where she was and had met her needs – almost to the penny.  He is so amazing!  He cares so much for us.  Why do we forget that?

For now, if you don’t have one already, why don’t you start a prayer journal?  I have a little blank book and on the right page list my prayers and leave the left, facing page blank to record the praise when the prayer is answered.  Seeing the request and the answer laid out in this manner will go a long way to strengthening your faith.  I can guarantee that you will be surprised about how God answers prayer time and time again.

Now … I promised my Ephesians 3:20 story and I see I’m well over 900 words.  To tell this whole story would be another 1,000+ words.  So I regret I must leave it until next week – BUT – I don’t regret for one instant getting to talk longer about answered prayer!!

That really just thrills my heart.  Thank you, Lord!

Praying you have a wonderful weekend with answered prayer of your own!

When Faith Falters ~ 2

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This is part two and the conclusion of a story that started on Friday.  You can find part one here. ~ F

Faced with a friend whose strong faith is perilously close to slipping over the edge of the abyss … I close my eyes and pray … God, help.  I am not equipped for this.

As I often do with my counselees, I change the direction of the conversation.  There is a time to shake the muck and mire off your feet and scramble back up to the edge of the pit.  I concentrate on asking Paula to pray for God to speak to her and then to watch closely and listen for Him to speak.  “He can use anything and anyone,” I say.

“I do,” she says.  “How come I don’t hear Him?”

Knowing that she believes she isn’t hearing Him I add, “His voice may not come the way you think it will.”  I remind her that I’d wanted to share Psalm 66: 1-10 with her earlier and hadn’t had the opportunity to – mainly because of how our conversation had unfolded.  I ask her to read it at home because it had been called to my attention that morning and it was so beautifully brimming with praise to God.  It’s hard to feel poorly when you’re busy praising Him.  And, since it’s one of my spiritual gifts, I tell her that I’ll pray for God to send me a word for her and that when He does I’ll let her know immediately.  She doesn’t look very confident.  It doesn’t matter.  I’m confident for the both of us.

We settle the bill and I suggest we go sit on the rocking chairs that litter the front porch of this establishment.

Outside we rock and talk softly.  The gravity of her earlier emotion subsiding, she’s now deep in her head and I’m still praying that God will speak to her and allow her to hear Him.

A woman walks by with a “Happy Birthday” balloon. I notice her hair is cropped really short like maybe she’s coming off chemo.  “Happy Birthday” I call out as she passes by.  She turns and smiles, it’s not her birthday but a friend’s … she’s just going to the car and will be right back. I mention to Paula that she might have cancer.  “Look at her hair,” I whisper.

“It may just be her style,” Paula responds.

“Maybe.” I say, sighing and looking out into the parking lot.

As the woman returns from her car she stops and hesitates in front of us.  Looking at me she indicates that she’s just finished treatments for breast cancer, had a double mastectomy, and reconstructive surgery.  She apologizes for surmising my situation (which I presume is due to my lovely ‘I’m fighting cancer’ hair-do).  I wave her off and congratulate her and her progress.  I gesture to Paula and tell her that my friend is also battling cancer and having a tough day.

Her words so tender and uplifting, I gasp and grab Paula’s hand as the woman bends down and speaks directly into Paula’s soul.  She mentions much of the verbiage in Psalm 66 – the very Psalm I had planned to read to her hours earlier.  She talks about gratitude and hope and healing. Paula is crying and I’m thanking God for this angel He has sent to us.  Talk about divine appointments!  Hugs and kisses later she hurries off to retrieve her friends inside.  I praise God aloud for sending the woman and squeeze Paula’s hand again.

Paula is still despondent.  “She’s just a woman,” she states matter-of-factly.

“A woman sent by God,” I emphatically declare.

The next morning I was not even out of bed before I was praying for Paula and asking God to give me a word for her.  I sigh laying my head back on the pillow, “Lord, we need a word from you now,” I implore aloud.  Suddenly I ‘got’ Isaiah 62:12.  I smile and say (again out loud), “Thank you, Lord,” my heart brimming with joy.  I grab my HCSB from the nightstand and read:

“And they will be called the Holy People,

the Lord’s redeemed;

and you will be called Cared For,

A City Not Deserted.”

How glorious! Of course He cares for her and has not deserted her. I immediately text Paula.  The Lord makes my day before I’ve even gotten out of bed!  How can you not love such a responsive Father?  He is so faithful!  I pray Paula will receive this message from Him and meditate on it.

At church the following Sunday Paula remarks that she didn’t understand the verse I sent her.  She opens her Bible and we read her version of the verse.  It’s nowhere near as glorious as the version I’m currently using (the HSCB or Holman Christian Standard Bible).  I open mine and read it to her.  She sits back contemplating the message.

Then, just before service started Paula grabbed my hand, “Don’t give up on me,” she whispers.  I turn to look at her with tears in my eyes.

“I won’t,” I whisper as I hug her tightly. “I won’t.”

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Now tell me … What have you done to strengthen your own faith, or someone else’s faith?

Update:  While Paula still struggles, she is doing better, is reading the Bible, and has (at least) remembered that she will be going to Heaven when she dies. Glory!