I’ve had a hard week.
Light shone in a dark area of my life, but the darkness did not comprehend it (John 1:5).
Have you ever prayed so hard for something that, although you do not sweat actual drops of blood, as Jesus did in the garden before the Roman nails, you feel as if the very life has been drained from you, as you ask and you ask and you ask?
In the year 2000, just months after my youngest son was born, I started training for a marathon. I had been a runner all my life, but I never managed more than 10 miles at a time. With great hope, I found a book with a reasonable enough sounding training program, and began to really run.
My long runs grew until they hit their peak at 16 miles, and then, disaster. In some convoluted every-body-part-is-somehow-connected scenario, my hip was thrown out of whack, perhaps from the milage, and the calf muscle on one leg refused to cooperate with me any longer.
Stubborn, I tried to push through.
Every time I attempted to head out, I would be forced back by a searing pain in my calf that made running impossible. I might be able to go a day or two, perhaps a week, before the rebellious thing had me in tears, but eventually I was brought to a complete halt. I had missed the marathon, and, worse, was unable to achieve even a fraction of the modest milage I had run before the injury. I was done.
At the time, I was a brand new baby Christian, so I thought, I know. I’ll pray.
So I prayed. And I prayed. And prayed and prayed and prayed.
Our family moved from Michigan to New Hampshire. I prayed.
We moved to a different town. I prayed.
God gave me a best friend, and she and I walked, walked and walked and walked, the streets of our neighborhood, praying praying praying that my leg would be healed inJesussnameamen.
It was as if God had closed the vault of heaven, and whatever treasures were locked inside, He had no intention of showing us the key.
One morning in church, there was a tipping point. When almost every friend and family member I knew were off running a local 5K (with free beer at the finish), I surrendered. When the invitation for who-needs-prayer was announced, I limped up to a vacant seat, and a dear sister prayed agreement with me.
Lord, I surrender. Lord, I don’t understand. Lord, I fully believe that you are able to heal this awful leg, but I will no longer ask for you to do it. I accept whatever Your hand gives.
That very week, a miracle.
I saw a new chiropractor, he fixed my hip, and I was able to run again. Hike 2,000 miles. Finish an Ironman.
You might be thinking coincidence, but don’t you dare.
10 YEARS, hundreds of thousands of prayers. Nothing.
1 moment of prayerful surrender. Key.
What unlocked the door – the years of prayer or the surrender? Both? I can’t answer that, but this I know: prayer changes things. It might be legs or it might be hearts, but when you pray, heaven moves and things happen, sometimes with an excruciating slowness that pains the soul, but happen they do.
When my son died, I did what some might think an audacious thing.
I went to the funeral home where his body had been taken and prayed that Jesus would raise him from the dead.
Ever practical, I brought along a bag of his favorite comfy clothes because the paramedics had made short work of whatever he had been wearing at the time of his crash, and he would be embarrassed to have to drive home with his momma in his birthday suit.
It was faith that compelled me, faith and the mandate that Jesus had sent out His twelve with: Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse lepers, cast out demons. You received without paying; give without pay (Matthew 10:8).
Day and night, night and day, I went. I went alone and I went with others, Adrienne and Shawna and Myles and Joe and Scott, men and women who dared to believe that Jesus meant what He said. I asked the funeral director to hold off as long as possible cremating my boy because I believed, I believed, that prayer is what changes the things we want changed, prayer is what makes things happen.
His bag of clothes still sits in my car, and there is an urn where my son used to be.
Does God answer prayer?
If He didn’t, why would we pray?
Did he raise my son from the dead?
My son now sits with God’s own Son, high in the heavenlies, and he is very much alive.
Could God have caused my son to kick free of the zippered morgue bag, put on his comfy clothes, and stun the world?
However, God didn’t ask me which choice I preferred, boy-in-clothes or boy-in-clouds.
God is God.
#1, He knows everything, and #2, whether we like it or not, He knows best.
This week, God closed the door on a prayer I have been praying for many years.
I believe the Bible stories about the persistent widow and the mustard seed of faith and the if you ask believing, it will be yours. I do.
So do the men and women who have stood with me year by year, shield to shield and sword to sword, gathered together twoorthree: Aggie and Margaret and Cilla and Greg, Shane and Bruce and Judy and Bill, Ian and Emma and Gareth and Raye, Shannan and Rick and so many others, believers all.
It’s who we are. It’s what we do.
I wonder if my cloud-y boy can see the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders, falling down before the Lamb, each one with a harp and holding golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of God’s people (Revelation 5:8).
Does he know the scent of his momma’s prayers?
There’s so much we cannot know. God protects us, I think, from many of the prayers we pray. Becarefulwhatyouwishfor because we don’t always know what we don’t know, and our prayers are often crazy, often reckless.
But the good news is, we pray big and God moves strong and in the end it is we that are changed.
He gives us what we need, not necessarily what we think we want.
So keep filling those bowls of gold. God is as pleased with the aroma as He is pleased with us.
And He will answer.
In His own way.
In His own time.