Tuesday, September 14, 2004

Don't rob someone else.

I was reading a story last night that reminded me of something. As my family and I trudge along in our life, looking for signs of God and wanting to hear more from Him, thoughts from past experiences and past readings came creeping back in.

I recalled reading a story that talked about prayers; more specifically, the answers to prayers. Here is the abridged version of the story, hopefully I don't mess it up.

Amy, the eldest of 3 daughters, had just turned 8. She came home from school one afternoon talking about how she had needed to get a new pair of shoes. Everyone else at school had these shoes and she wanted to get a pair to be like all of her friends. Money was tight in the family, and these were pretty expensive shoes. She begged and pleaded, but was told that they were too expensive and that they were currently unaffordable. The saga continued for a couple more days as she would come home and talk about these shoes again and again. Each time raising the the level of pleading hoping that her parents would finally break. After 4 days of this, her father finally told her that they would not be able to buy her the shoes, no matter how much she continued to plead for them. He suggested that she go pray and ask God for the shoes. Not yet having been crushed by the world, this little girl figured it was as good of chance as anything else. She ran off to her room and started praying for these shoes. Her father figured that he had solved the problem, with her now asking God for the shoes, he no longer had to be the scapegoat when she didn't get them. Amy continued praying for her shoes for the next week. On Sunday, as the family was returning from church, they pulled in the drive and noticed a bag on their front porch. The girls jumped out of the car and ran to the porch to see what was in. Within moments, Amy came running back to the car with tears in her eyes. In her hands were a new pair of the shoes that she had been praying for. Her squeals of joy could be heard throughout the neighborhood as her parents stood there in amazement. This was the day that Amy became a believer in the power of prayer.

It was a few days later that the father was on the phone talking with his sister, when he mentioned the story about Amy and her shoes. His sister said that the shoes had come from her. She had purchased a pair for herself, but didn't like the way they felt. She was speaking with Amy's Grandmother about the shoes and was telling her that she had bought these shoes, but could no longer take them back as she had worn them for a couple of days. Amy's Grandmother relayed the fact that Amy had been wanting a pair of those same shoes. Since the size was right, they decided that they should just give them to Amy and allow someone to get some use out of them.

When I first read this story, I thought, "See, God doesn't really answer prayers. It was just circumstances that made it look that way." It wasn't until I began to have similar experiences that I really understood how God was working in my life and working my life into other people's lives. I remember shortly after I was saved, we were in our new house and were unpacking boxes. I was working in the kitchen and was unpacking a set of knives that we had purchased off of TV. I laughed at the fact that each of these knives was wrapped in cardboard and each was imprinted with the phrase - Caution: Knives are sharp!!! I found out quickly how sharp they were as I pulled a bread knife out of the cardboard and it ran against the palm of my hand. There was Plenty of blood splattering to know that I had taken it pretty deep. Living close to the Hospital, I hoped in the car and drove up to the ER for some stitches (a place that would eventually give my family a punch-card so we could earn a free visit). While I was waiting for the Dr., a nurse came in to clean out my wound. As she was cleaning we were making small-talk about this and that. She mentioned that she had a daughter who had just started college that year. She had been getting a little nervous because she hadn't heard from her in a while, but she was sure everything was okay. This was when I did something that I had never done before. I asked her if I could pray for her and her daughter. She said that would be fine. I reached out and grabbed her hands. She pulled back and said, "You mean right now?" "Yes", I said, "right now." I grabbed her hands again and began praying. I cannot remember, to this day, what I said. All I remember is that when I finished, her eyes had began to tear up and she thanked me and walked away. I felt a little odd inside afterwards, wondering if she was now thinking I was some kind of freak, but I just let it go. A few days later I was at work and I received a call from her. She apologized for calling me at work, and explained that she wasn't supposed to get personal information off of our charts, but she felt the need to call me. She wanted to thank me again, and tell me that her daughter had called her later that same day I had prayed for her. Her daughter mentioned how she had felt this need to call and let her know that everything was fine and that she was doing good. She had no other motive for calling - not looking for money, not for food, not anything - she just felt that she needed to ease her mother's heart. This was a moment that this wonderful mother, was reminded of the power of prayer.

This was the moment at I had my eyes opened to the fact that God does not directly answer prayers. God answers prayers through other people. There have been many times since then that I have felt the need to pray for people. In the supermarket, in parking lots, at work. Each time I have done this, I remember the moments leading up to the confrontation and I recall what happened afterwards. But, for the life of me, I cannot remember what was said or what was prayed. This has been the true confirmation for me that God was in control of the situations. I remember, in such details, the moments beforehand. I remember the lighting, the background music, the time of day. Everything!!! Except was was actually spoken.

I caught part of a movie the other day - Pay it Forward. It dealt with doing a good deed for someone else, without expecting anything in return for it. When I watched that movie, I was reminded of all of the prayers that God has used me to answer. I also looked forward to that day when I will sit down with Him and He will show me the far-reaching impact that each of those scenarios had. Our lives cross paths with people everyday that we may never see again - don't rob someone of the prayer that God is trying to answer through you. If you choose to not allow God to use you, He will find someone else to answer that prayer, but you will miss out on the blessing that it will bring to your life.


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