Sunday, August 9, 2015

Where Two or Three Are Gathered

I had something in mind to write about today, but then I went to church tonight.

Our church held a prayer service for a sweet lady......a service devoted to offering up prayers for her healing.  She's what I'd call a young woman........probably because she and her husband are my age.  I don't really know them well, but remember their faces from our high school years.  Her health has steadily declined through the years with MS and a series of other serious medical problems.....any one of which would be challenging and frightening enough on its own.  She and her husband also have a 9 year old daughter.

There were four things that I took away from the service that I wanted to share.  Whether you know her or not, I think that we can all learn from her.    

1)  Real joy that comes from hope in Christ is unconditional.  As I sat in the choir loft during the service, I could see sweet Carol Anne's face.  The enormity of the physical burdens that she shoulders each day have taken a toll on her body, but not on her radiance.  I contemplated how someone so sick could be so joyful.  How could someone, whose medical record looks like hers, manage to shine so brightly?  A smile spread from one ear to the other across the face of such an ill woman?  A beautiful wife, mother, daughter lovingly patting her husband, mother, and child....concerned for and comforting them while she, herself, was in such need?

The only answer that made any sense of the dichotomy.....this unnatural human reaction to her dim circumstances was the presence of Christ in her.  To have joy in suffering can only be possible when one's hope goes beyond what can be seen.  When the next life is seen as a continuation of this one, knowing that life is eternal for those who believe in Him.  And that the ability to get through the days as they come doesn't have to come from our own resources, but that rest can be found in His strength.  The knowledge that we will never be alone.....even when our path is so dark that we can't see much of anything.  The belief that, for every trial we face, we receive a measured dose of strength to endure it.....and victoriously so.         
   
I had an overwhelming feeling that I needed to go speak to her after the service.  I introduced myself and I didn't pray any long prayer with her, recite any scripture, share any profound, inspirational thoughts or anything like that.  I just felt like God wanted me to hold her face and tell her one, simple thing, "You are so very beautiful and your face is a powerful testimony."  You know people like that?  Their countenance speaks volumes.  Their face exudes love.  They convey more in their silence and their very presence than most could say with a novel full of words.  She's that kind of person.  A beautiful lady. 

Her husband spoke the sweetest words of praise, "You light up the room when you walk in it and you leave the light on when you leave." 

What a worthy goal for all of us.    

I felt pretty ashamed that I don't always bring light with me and I have far less weight to bear. 

2)  In sickness and in health is a promise we enter into blindly.  When we stand in the church in our white lace and black ties, we do our best to repeat the lengthy vows through our jitters.  All married people have said them, but I imagine that most, including myself, just think the sickness thing is only thrown in there for extremely rare situations.....kind of like the booklet of fine print that comes with your medications.  It's most likely not going to happen, but we have to cover it. 

I think most of us have visions of living long, wonderfully full lives and dying in our sleep in our soft, warm beds with great, great-grandchildren gathered around.  No matter how many times we play our ending in our minds, our hair is always gray and our skin is wrinkled from the passage of time.  It's just how we usually see our life ending. 

Sometimes, life doesn't play out that way.  Tonight, I saw a husband holding his sick wife and kissing the top of her head.  His body shook as he tried to control his emotions.....all of the emotions bottled up from years of caring for her and longing for her to be well.  The grueling task of watching the love of your life suffer and not being able to help.  The day in and day out of living with disease and its effects.  The anger, the hope, the disappointment, the compassion, the helplessness.  Those are emotions that are only known and felt to the fullest extent by people in the home.  The ones who share life on the most intimate level. 

He spoke briefly on her condition and emphasized that despite all of their challenges that he wouldn't trade the life they have together.....not wanting to spend his days with anyone but her. 

They are an example of God's beautiful plan for marriage in the flesh.  To see love "in sickness and in health" is a most beautiful thing.  A love story in its truest and deepest form.   

3)  To be loved and missed and cared about is good, good medicine.   For almost an hour, we sat as people went by and prayed with the family and spoke words of encouragement.  There were so many tears, hugs, and smiles.  I thought about the healing touch in the love of a church family.  All of the people who'd known her for years were, one by one, showing her their love face to face....with their hands, their eyes, their lips, their words, their arms.  One thing that I noticed is how she responded to that.  Being homebound for so long, it was apparent that the mere touch of those she's loved for so many years was better than any prescription.  There's something incredibly special about belonging to a place where you're loved, cared for, and remembered.  It does the soul good to have a place where your absence is noticed......where you're missed when you're away.  I know that each time Carol Anne's husband and daughter are seen at church without her, her name is lifted in prayer and she is thought about in most loving ways.   

We really do need each other.  I don't know how people get through life without the support of Christian friends and God's church.  I don't think that I've ever seen more tangible evidence of its importance as I did tonight on a sick woman's face.  It was written all over her.  The touch, the words, the love.....after being away for so long......they were healing and comforting and warming........a soothing balm for her spirit.        

4)  God is able, but we have to trust Him.  Sometimes, life leaves us scratching our heads.....maybe even mentally stomping our feet in protest.  Often times, it just doesn't seem fair.  That's where the trust part comes in.  We have to trust that God loves her even more than we do and, because of that, He can be trusted to take care of her.

We prayed and claimed God's promises on Carol Anne's behalf.  We know that with one word from Him, she could be healed.  That's how we would have it work out, but God's ways are higher than ours, so we prayerfully wait with hope.  Mary's prayer was prayed for her, "Be it unto me according to Thy word."

Please remember Paul, Carol Anne, and their young daughter in your prayers.  God knows them well.  He'll know exactly who you're talking about.

I'd appreciate that an awful lot! 


Hope your Monday will be as good as a Monday can possibly be! 
        
                               

8 comments:

  1. Prayed for Carol Anne and her family. This post is testament that church ( any ) and fellowship is most powerful ( prayers for each other and for non followers, happened to me at my sister's church ) in their love of Christ. Being surrounded by love and caring people does make a difference in your well being. Have a Blessed day Joni, Kathleen in Az

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    1. Thank you for your prayers, Kathleen!!

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  2. I was not able to come but prayed for Carol Anne and her family at 6:00. But after reading your post, I can feel what it was like to be there. We are so blessed with a wonderful church family who believe in Christ's love. Prayers will continue for that sweet family!

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    1. Yes, we are! It was a beautiful service!

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  3. Your words are so true, and you convey the beauty of the event. I am thankful for my church, too, but more I am thankful for Jesus. Carol Anne's radiance is His work in her life. You were right in pointing that out and to tell her!

    I pray that God will heal her. But I know that if HE chooses otherwise, the testimony of her life, their marriage and family will change other peoples lives.

    Deanna

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    1. Thanks for your prayers, Deanna! And for your beautiful words!

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  4. I just love how you can put things into words. I will be praying for Carol Anne and her family.

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    1. Thanks for your prayers, Denice!

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