I am excited to go back to my blogging roots, to return to that which is really the backbone of this twelve-year endeavor. After all, very few people on this earth are as skilled as I am at humiliating themselves. And since God is so so good, He gave me a humbling yet somehow still delightful experience just this week.
I spent the first two weeks of Zoom school with the boys at the beach in Florida. Since it was still foggy and rainy at home, the sunshine and ocean breeze did us a lot of good. Will was working especially long hours and had the peace of knowing he wasn’t bringing any illness home to us. I got to walk along the beach (the sidewalk never closed) each morning, and ride bikes with Sam at lunchtime. But we missed our man, and came home just in time for “spring break.”
Fortunately by the time we came home, the fog had cleared out and I started walking almost daily at a local park. The playground is closed but the walking path has remained open. It is the only flat place to walk on the mountain and a loop is just less than a quarter mile.
A few weeks ago I was admiring the determination of a tall, older gentleman walking the same loop in the opposite direction. Even though we passed each other many times, we never spoke. He just kept pounding out the miles. I was in awe. “Well,” I told myself, “I certainly can’t leave before he does.” So I followed his lead, and kept going. I don’t count laps but roughly keep track of time. We were there for a long while. Finally, the gentleman left. I did one more lap and headed to my car.
As I approached my car, I realized the gentleman was still sitting in his car with the window rolled down.
“How far did you go?” he called out. I sheepishly admitted my only goal was to keep up with him. We chatted for a few minutes —socially distanced of course— made brief introductions and realized that we attend the same church. He also mentioned that he is 93 years old and always walks three miles!
That night I told Will about how I made a new, 93 year old friend: Addison Soltau.
Will is a pretty heroic pray-er. He gets up early in the morning and reads his Bible and prays. Not sometimes. Not oftentimes. Every single day. On the rare occasions I stumble out of bed early, I often find him on his knees praying. He keeps a list in his car that he also takes to the gym. But since the gym has been closed he’s been using a prayer list on our treadmill.
When I told Will about Addison Soltau, he said, “Oh, I pray for a Roselynne Soltau.”
A few weeks passed and I saw Mr. Soltau a few more times. I loved chatting with him, and would always tell Will that I got to see my new friend again.
“Well,” Will said, “I’m praying for Roselynne everyday.”
So that’s all background for the mortifying moment that happened on Monday. Mr. Soltau and I were at the park walking and I decided to tell him about Will praying for Roselynne.
“Tell me who Roselynne is,” I said, certain she was related but unsure how. Mr. Soltau’s face was expressionless. “My husband prays for Roselynne every day,” I continued. Still, there was a confused look upon Mr. Soltau’s face. “She’s on the LMPC prayer list,” I added nervously, questioning if two unrelated families could have the same uncommon name.
“I hope not,” Mr. Soltau answered with a wry smile. “Roselynne was my wife but she died last August. I think she’s now probably praying for him.”
I didn’t know if I wanted to laugh or cry, but I did know I wanted to kill my husband. I apologized profusely, but winsome Mr. Soltau just told me about his dear wife of almost seventy years like nothing out of the ordinary had transpired.
Do you think people in heaven pray for those on earth? Most of my life I have not believed this to be true. But I changed my mind in 2017. Just a day or two after my mother passed away a friend sent me a devotional that referenced how Elisabeth Elliot believed her mother in heaven prayed for her. Elliot explained, “Since I know that Mother talked to Jesus about me all the time while she was here on earth, why should I think she’d stop doing this now that she is with Him face-to face?”
How can you argue with that?
So maybe Mrs. Soltau does pray for Will, but I’m certain she prays for dear Mr. Soltau. Perhaps his lovely demeanor itself is answered prayer.
E.M Bounds wrote, “God shapes the world by prayer. Prayers are deathless. They outlive the lives of those who uttered them.”
If I believed deep down that God uses my prayers to shape the world, that my prayers will even survive my earthly death, then how much more of my extra time at home would I use to pray?
Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 ESV
And do make sure, should you choose to use a prayer list from your church, that it’s NOT currently dated July 28! I can testify that praying from very outdated lists can result in extremely embarrassing exchanges.
Have a fabulous weekend!
P.S. Almost unbelievably when I emailed this to Mr. Soltau to review, I learned that he went to school with Jim and “Betty” Elliot. In fact, even before that Mr. Soltau’s father and Elisabeth Elliot’s father were friends. In His loving kindness God often reminds me that the world is indeed very small and that He orchestrates it all.