Praying Sam

It was a blistering 105 degrees yesterday in the suburbs of DC, and of course it felt all of that.  In fact, the Washington Post reported that the heat index reached a whopping  121 degrees!  I don’t know how hot it was at swim practice (Fun Friday) but when I realized I had to trek out to my car to get my wallet I felt like I needed a pep talk from friends.

The kids were doing their annual penny dive and being mostly submerged was surely the way to go.  Then they played watermelon ball, which is a greasy team sport in which points are scored when a team carries the slippery watermelon from the middle of the pool to one end.

But even that excitement wore off more quickly than usual and we were ready to go home to a cold basement and relax by 10:30am.  But just as we were heading out, a wonderful thirteen-year-old teammate named Mia collapsed.  We called the ambulance and she is evidently going to be just fine.  By God’s grace, Mia didn’t hit her head but fell into the arms of a fast acting friend.  But dehydration is a scary thing, and all of the kids were quite distressed to see their teammate and friend lying on the cement.

This impressive young woman is a star of the swim team, a stellar student, and has babysat Sam.  The crowd gathered round was gravely concerned.  But among the many questions and comments, I don’t know how many prayers were offered for her.  Maybe there was even just one.

I am humbled by the fact that even though I called 911, I didn’t pray.  My nine-year-old didn’t pray, and my seven-year-old didn’t pray.  Yet among the muffled voices was my four-year-old’s.  I was amazed that without any prompting whatsoever, Sam offered this simple, faith-filled prayer:

“God our Father, We thank you so much that Mia will be happy and that she won’t cry.  Amen.”

I doubt it’s possible to feel any prouder than I did in that moment.

Divine Appointments, Part 2

Last time I blogged about how life-changing a seemingly random ten-minute conversation can be.  It’s important that we be ready for these unexpected and sometimes inconvenient divine appointments.  I also indicated that I recently missed a divine appointment that I believe God had intended for me.  Here’s what happened.

On June 15, 2011, Will and I went to a concert at Wolf Trap.  Wolf Trap is the best place on the face of the earth to see a concert.  It is a small venue just outside the Beltway on a beautiful hillside setting surrounded by trees.  You can bring whatever you like in your cooler, throw out a blanket, stare at the sky as the stars pop out one by one, and listen to live music.  It’s pretty much the ideal date night, and with two boys heavily into sports, a third who needs more activities and stimulation than just spectating, and the general busyness of life, you can imagine that Will and I had looked forward to this outing.

So we arrived when the gates opened with maybe a hundred other Wolf Trap fanatics, laid out our blanket, flopped open our cooler, sprayed ourselves with bug repellent and settled down for a lovely night of music and each other.  But then a woman — who must have been sitting at least 150 feet away — very deliberately made her way over to us.

“Hi, I saw you spraying down.  Could I possibly borrow your bug spray?  My husband will get eaten up and I didn’t bring any.”

“Of course,” I said, handing her the Off.

As she trekked back to her blanket, Will and I looked at each other.

“That was kind of weird,” I said.

“Yeah,” he agreed, “Do you think we’re supposed to share Christ with her?”

I sort of laughed, a little uncomfortable and a lot reluctant.  The truth is I didn’t want to have any conversation with anyone but Will.

A minute or so later she returned, handed me the spray and said thank you.

But then twenty or so strides away, she turned over her shoulder and called out, “You saved us.”

It made me feel sick.  In fact, I still feel sick about it.  I’m sure a rather large percentage of the population would think that I’m overreacting, that I’m really making a mountain out of a molehill, but I just know that we were supposed to talk with that woman.  Do you ever have times when you feel a nudge from God that is absolutely undeniable?  Well, let me recommend acting on that nudge!  Because even though I have no idea what I was supposed to talk to her about specifically or even how I was to engage her, I’m so sorry that I didn’t even try, that I was unwilling.

I don’t know what would’ve happened.  I’m not saying this woman would now be a close friend, that she’d be coming to church with me this morning, or that we would’ve invited her and her husband to join us near the bug spray, but I believe God nudges and that we need to obey, even when it feels uncomfortable, weird, or inconvenient.

In Isaiah 55, we learn that God’s Word will not return empty.   In fact, God says it, “will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.  You will go out in joy and be led forth in peace; the mountains and hills will burst into song before you, and all the trees of the field will clap their hands.”

Just think if I had been willing to talk to that woman for just a minute and share a verse with her, God’s Word would not have returned empty.  It would’ve accomplished God’s desire.  And I would’ve gone out in joy and would’ve been led forth in peace.  Trees would’ve clapped.  But I was unwilling, and I have no joy or peace about it.  And the trees and the hills were silent.  What a lesson.

May I listen intently for the prompting of the Holy Spirit, and may I obey those nudges for His glory and my peace.