Once a month I teach children’s sermon. I’m not sure how this all started; but, it is the expectation that one of the children will close in prayer before leaving the sanctuary. Every Sunday, they excitedly raise their arms in unison when asked…”Who wants to say our prayer?” Each little hand waving as if to say, “Me, me I want to talk to God!” So, I carefully choose one. A little four year old stands next to me and talks to God in prayer with sincere thanks for our day, for mommy and daddy and occasionally a dog or cat. Their words are clear and sincere, devoid of selfish intent or showiness. “Dear God, thank you for everything. Amen. ” is one child’s prayer, simple, concise,sincere, and all-inclusive.
This past Christmas Eve, I watched family members hurriedly gather in the ICU waiting room. My husband’s mama was very sick and the progression of the sickness was rapid. Still uncertain of cause, prognosis or extent of her infection, I had to call and tell him to come to the hospital. I greeted him in the hallway and as I hugged him he said, “Pray hard.” Every day since then I have heard him say this to a friend or as a reminder to me. Just now, he has called from work on this horrifically cold night to give me an update of plans for another medical procedure. He tells me again, “She’s been through so much, please pray hard.” I tell him I did earlier and I will again. I remind him to wrap his prayers in the acknowledgement of God’s sovereign will. He says, “I am.” and I am comforted that he is.
I have been there, praying hard in a hard place.
I carefully remind him that God’s will is not always a fulfillment of our request, still we pray hard for healing for those we love.
On Christmas Day in 2010, Heather, Austin, Greg and I drove 3 hours to give mama her Christmas presents as she lay in a hospital bed. I will forever remember her beauty and grace that day. A very sick lady, she had the nurse dress her in a pair of beautiful, silky pajamas and her hair was styled away from her face. She smiled and embraced us as we walked in. She had been waiting expectantly for us to come. She had the resolve to conquer the world and the sickness in her body that day. She talked about school, about boyfriends, about baseball and never once complained. This memory will forever be an imprint of my last Christmas with mama.
She died the next month, two days before her 70th birthday. My prayers were not answered, I cried! I prayed hard! My memorization of a verse from the book of Luke about a father and a dying child…Jesus saying, “Just believe and she will be healed.” was now a source of humbling frustration. I believed the Bible and I believed God, so why?
Here’s what I know. My mama is in heaven. Her imprint is on the souls of my children and me. God gave me a beautiful Christmas memory of my mama emanating peace in the midst of a storm. It has taken me a long time to see…but when I prayed for mama to be well, she was well on that special Christmas Day.
She was angelic.
In the words of an especially prayerful child, “God, thank you for everything.”
My heart has heard You say, “Come and talk with Me”. My heart responds, “Lord, I am coming.” Psalm 27:8