Praying For Rain

My first experience with seeing a large group of people praying for a common issue was in a country church at about 6 years old. They were all farmers and they had been in a drought with no rain. They were in danger of losing their crops and source of income for the year.

We knew these people well. My dad was their bivocational pastor. Every week one of the families would have us over for lunch and sometimes dinner. I wanted it to rain for them.

Weeks went by with no rain. But they prayed continually and with such passion. They had such faith and confidence that God would answer and provide. They were thanking him for answering their prayer with not a cloud in the sky.

Here is the verse they were continually referencing. 2 Chronicles 7: 14 KJV

“If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.”

I was worried. I cared. These were really good people. I wanted it to rain. I began to worry.

Then it began to sprinkle. Then a light downpour. Then heavier steady rain that saved the crops and my friends livelihood.

God had answered in a big way. Right on time.
And I rejoiced with them and I danced in the rain.

This first experience with a group of people praying for people I knew had a lasting impression on me. It taught me the value of praying as a group for each other. 

Extravagant Love 

I awoke this Saturday morning and read 1st John 3:1 in the Voice Translation. “Consider the kind of extravagant love the Father has lavished on us—He calls us children of God! It’s true; we are His beloved children.” 

I could not get past the phrase ‘extravagant love’ and the word ‘lavished’. These words were still fresh on my heart when my best friend showed up to take me out to breakfast. I am still recovering from neck surgery and my wife was happy that I would not be alone. 

There is nothing more refreshing than a casual unrushed meal with your best friend. We talked about my 
physical, emotional and spiritual recovery after the surgery. We discussed an emotional wound that I am still addressing. My friend had been through difficult seasons and listened wholeheartedly hanging on every word. 

The day could have ended there and I would have felt loved and blessed. However, my friend had more planned. He would not let me pay for the meal.  Then he asked what he could do for me that I could not do for myself. 

I needed work on a ceiling fan light in my office and I had a faulty light switch in the laundry room.  My friend is a computer tech by trade. However, he is also a master electrician and brick mason. He is originally from Pittsburgh and his father taught him these skills. 

Over the next five hours, he worked tielessly for me. We made three trips to Home Depot. In addition to repairing the ceiling fan and light switch, he installed a light dimmer switch in the living room and changed out the vaulted ceiling living room lights to LED lights that we energy efficient. His acts of service and love were overwhelming. 

The whole time we were having a wonderful conversation.  Somehow, we got to the subject of the fireplace and my wife’s plan to remove the hearth. She was trying to reach someone for a bid. He started laughing and asked if he could do the work.  It is about ten hours of hard work to remove and reseal it. I told him I would be delighted for him to do the work but I was going to pay him. I lost that argument. 

He will return to complete that project on another day.  As the day closed I thanked my friend for all that, he had done for me. We parted with a manly hug. 

When my wife returned home, I showed her all the repairs and improvements. I told her about the offer to repair the fireplace. 

And the words of 1st John 3:1 were ringing in my ears. 

My friend had lavished me with extravagant love. I had just received a glimpse of what my heavenly father had done, and was doing for me.

Joy Rediscovered

This morning I rediscovered an old battered reference book that has brought me great joy through the years.

As I opened the book a handwritten letter fell out.  It was written by a nephew who was in the military. I was reminded again of the joy we felt as God brought him safely home.

After being unable to physically attend church the last two weeks due to my recent surgery I was excited to be able to go this morning.

We entered a few minutes late as my favorite worship leader was just beginning to sing my favorite song of worship (Good, Good Father – Chris Tomlin). 

I heard God’s word taught with humility, insight and joy. I was reminded of what our core truths are. I was given clarity as to when we should speak up and when to just let it go. 

After the service I was greeted, hugged and encouraged by so many people who had prayed for me, provided food, and visited me after my neck fusion surgery.

I intentionally and joyfully took a two hour nap so that I could go to our life group Sunday night.

I was greeted after the nap by a smile from my wife of 34 years who has been my most consistent source of joy in this life. 

I discovered that Amazon had that old battered reference book that I love in Kindle and paperback. I ordered them both. 

I have discovered so many reasons for joy that I had taken for granted. 

I cannot get the words from Hebrews 12:2 out of mind: ” Looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.”

An April Fools Day Post Surgery Lesson

On Saturday night I was extremely foolish and passed out in my wife’s arms several times in the bathroom from dehydration. I had felt fine all day and was looking forward to sneaking into church in the morning. The next thing I remember was my precious wife holding me up in the window sill and talking to 911 while I passed in and out of consciousness. Somehow my wife was able to get me to the floor  where I could lay down and wait for the paramedics. 

One of the paramedics had the same surgery six months ago. He was significantly younger than I am, in great shape and it took him the full six weeks to start to feel normal again. He wasn’t harsh or judgmental. He spoke with the compassion of someone who knew what I was experiencing.  My wife also didn’t say I told you so and was a model of compassion. I deeply regret the fear, sleeplessness and anxiety she suffered due to my delusional overconfidence.

I really should have known better. I had a lower neck fusion surgery on March 20th on c5-6 and c6-7. I had been in constant pain, about a seven out a ten, since November of 2016.  It was a degenerative condition that I can trace back at least four years. 

Dr. Jeffrey Cattaroni, a neurosurgeon did a marvelous job in the surgery. After the surgery they let my wife know that they resolved everything but the damage had been much more extensive than they initially had thought. I woke up from the surgery with no neck pain. No numbness or painful shooting pains in my right arm. Some patients awaken with residual pain that soon goes away.

I awoke in a bed with a neck gear that I will wear for six weeks post surgery. I was released after a few days and was able to go home. 

I have an excellent home therapist that has taught me how to do simple things, like getting in and out of bed, that I took for granted before the surgery.

The surgeon and his staff had warned me about rushing my recovery. But I thought I was the exception. I was wrong. 

Healing is rarely an instantaneous experience. Usually it a a process of slow but steady gains. That process is equally true in physical, emotional, mental and spiritual healing. 

We assume a great risk, at our own peril, in not allowing time to really recover.