Happy Wednesday, everyone! Aren't you glad the week is half over? Today, I was able to hand in one of my huge assignments and I feel so free! We had to make a life-size skeleton and it took hours and hours!
Anywho, today I decided to share a piece of writing with you. I wrote it last summer during a challenge I took with Cleanplace and decided that I would share it with you guys this week. It's a very important story to me and I put my whole heart into it.
I hope you guys enjoy!
Once again, I found myself forced to come to church. Before my parents could argue, I took my place in the last row while they hurried to the front. That's the way it was, and that's the way I liked it. More people filed through the doors and soon the sanctuary was jam-packed. No one wanted to miss Pastor Jake’s last sermon. I saw a few of my friends sitting a few isles in front of me, but I haven't sat with them for months and I certainly didn't want to move now. I'd probably say something to push them further away, and as much as I hated my life, I didn't want to ruin theirs. The congregation all rose to sing a few hymns, and then the sermon, which was bound to be boring, began.
Pastor Jake took his time walking to the pulpit, organizing his notes and then he cleared his throat.
“Everyone, at one point in their life, says a prayer.” His voice carried back over the rows and sounded clearly in my ears. “Whether that prayer is for a loved one, for oneself or a quick prayer said in quiet desperation, it doesn't matter. God hears all prayers and He will always answer accordingly.”
Ha! That's a laugh. God doesn't answer all prayers. He didn't answer mine when I called six months earlier. He had left my family to suffer, He had turned away.
Six months ago, my older sister Thérèse was driving home from work, when she had been hit by a drunk driver. She had been severely injured and, after being rushed to the hospital, was placed in intensive care. I remember when we received the call. My Mom's face had palled to an unearthly white while tears poured from her eyes. I had felt numb all over and incapable of tears. I was so sure that she would be fine, that the doctors would simply wave a hand and she'd be able to come home, but it had been touch and go.
My sister had remained in a coma for the first three months. Three months. Everyday I'd pray to God and ask that He'd bring my sister back to life, and everyday, I'd get nothing.
Then one day in late April, on one of my regular visits, Thérèse woke up and looked at me.
“Liz,” she had said in a soft voice, “why are you crying?”
Until that moment, I hadn't realized that tears pooled on her bed sheet and so I quickly rubbed away my stray tears and said, “I was worried we'd lost you.” And now, I wonder why I hadn't gone straight to get a doctor, but it's too late.
“You didn't lose me. I love you, little sis, and I'll always love you. Remember that, alright?”
I had dumbly nodded and Thérèse had smiled, closing her eyes for the last time as she sunk into her pillow.
All that praying and she had died before my eyes. I'm sure God loves me now. I turned my attention back to Pastor Jake.
“However, though we think that with prayer, our problems will instantly be solved, that will not always be the case. God works in mysterious ways and he can't be controlled by our every whim and desire. John 14:14 says, 'If you ask Me anything in My name, I will do it.' So as long as what you are asking for is for God, He will do it. Incredible, isn't it?”
So saving my sister wasn't for God?
Pastor Jake seemed to scan the crowd for a moment and then his eyes found and held mine.
“As you all know, I am moving to Wawa, and this is my last service. I had planned a different sermon for today, but God kept pushing this story into the front of my mind, so now I will share with you a story from my childhood.”
Pastor Jake continued to hold my gaze, and somehow I knew this next story was for me.
“When I was ten years old, my Grandma was sent to the hospital for a serious case of kidney stones. I really loved my Grandma and she had been such a strong Christian influence in my life, so of course, I figured God would not let her die. I prayed day and night for six months as she stayed in the hospital. I figured that God was going to use her for a miracle since she was always preaching his name and she had touched many people, but as her condition worsened, the doctors said it was only a matter of time.
“November 10th was her time.” Pastor Jake paused and I could see the faint glimmer as a tear traveled down his cheek. “I remember as my Dad came into wake me for church as usual, my sister in his arms. He placed her gently on the bed beside me and looked us both in the eye as he told us that Grandma had died earlier that morning. At first, I couldn’t believe it and I had sat in a numbed silence, unable to shed a tear.
“As I thought more about it, however, I became more and more furious with God. All those nights I had prayed, “Please save my Grandma” had been for nothing. It wasn’t until I was sitting in Sunday school three years later that a teacher changed the way I thought about things. This teacher asked us if we thought God always answered our prayers and I answered a flat out no. Everyone in my church knew of my Grandparents and he looked on with sympathy and said, ‘Your Grandma was saved, Jake. She is now with her Lord and Savior in Heaven.’ ‘But she’s not alive anymore,’ I replied. ‘No, she’s more alive then ever before and I bet she is watching over you. She really loved you.’ The tears I had held back flowed freely at that moment because his words rang with such truth.
“So that day, I realized that God had answered my prayer, it just wasn’t how I expected. God will always answer your prayers, you just can’t always imagine how.
“I’d like to read this last passage, and as I do, please close your eyes to listen to His word. ‘So I say to you, ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you,’ Luke 11:9.
“Dear Father, you know our hearts and our minds better then we do. You know that we can sometimes be angered and that sometimes, we wish to push you far away, but you also know that we will find our way back into your open arms. We forever thank you, oh Lord. Amen.”
“Amen,” the congregation echoed and then stood for the closing hymns. I remained seated, my eyes closed. I wasn't finished praying yet.