Tuesday, July 12, 2016

How God Answered My Prayer Today

The Lord answered my prayer, but not in the manner I expected Him to.
Each week, I look at my large desk calendar (yes, I'm old school) and find a day to take off. It's part of my routine, in keeping with what I was taught by a mentor of mine: your family is your primary ministry. This week, Tuesday was the only possible day. Nothing major was planned. Perhaps a trip to the park. Whatever we will do, it all involves getting dressed. My lovely wife was standing at the bottom of the stairs that leads to our boys' room helping Levi figure out what to wear. It was at this moment our day changed.

Anyone who has ever had a toddler in their home knows toddlers trip all of the time. Selah is no different. Her knees are scraped from falling on the sidewalk. I frequently brush grass or mulch off of her face after face planting outside. It was at this moment Selah tripped, but this time her delicate head struck the sharp corner of the baseboard.

When I saw my wife pick up our baby, our eyes met briefly. I read her face. Then I heard our baby's cry. Something was wrong. She handed Selah to me so she can quickly get ready. I had to simultaneously hold her arms down, press a washcloth on the wound, and comfort her, all while blood dripped onto the floor, my arms, and my clothes.

Levi came down with shock written on his face...and still wasn't wearing shoes. I'd like to tell you that I kept my cool, but I didn't. I yelled, "shoes, Levi!" My panic made me less tender. Elijah quickly got his flip-flops and started the car, even holding doors open. Driving to the hospital, I could see my boys praying for Selah in the rear view mirror.

Seeing my wife comforting our baby in a hospital bed is a frightening image. Triage questions kept us from talking to one another. I saw my bride, the mother of my children, look at me. I love my wife. She is beautiful. She is a precious gift from God to me. After nearly 14 years of marriage, I can see her eyes and read her heart. She looked terrified. My wife is a strong woman who possesses a confidence in most situations of what to do. Her eyes said she was scared for our baby.

I left my wife and baby daughter, taking the boys for an Icee. I knew it was going to be a long, long day. I got to talk to the boys about hospitals and how God is still in control, and they recalled their times at the hospital. It was there, in that moment in Burger King, when I remembered my prayer from the night before.

The night before, I met with our church's deacons. I had the devotion, which I read Galatians 6:9:
"Let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up."
Church leaders are not to give up but rather press on. Part of that pressing on requires rest. Rest causes us to remember our priorities. Rest, which seem counter-productive to our flesh, recalls to mind that our ministry is the Lord's doing, and we are to be dependent upon Him.

I remember my personal prayer later that night. My schedule keeps busying itself. Leading a growing church was taking my time. I prayed that the Lord would remind me of my primary ministry. The next day, He did.
Spending several hours in a tiny hospital room has its benefits. For one, my family and I were forced to look at each other. Looking at my lovely, pregnant bride uncomfortably and unselfishly lay in a child's sized hospital bed with our little girl put priorities in perspective for me. Seeing my baby girl endure 10 stitches and an IV, being kept in bed for several hours, had an effect on my mind.

I took the boys for a walk to the gift shop. We talked about everything to glass elevators to watering our garden. A while later, Levi and I went for a walk outside (if you know me well enough, I freeze at warm temperatures). He asked me about tornadoes and whether or not I was strong enough to lift various things he saw around the hospital. My boys look to me for a definition of being a man. More importantly, what it means to be a Godly man.

I'm not a perfect father. When I'm overwhelmed, I panic. I yelled at the boys today. When my day is busy, or stressful, I come home and I don't always give my family the attention I should. My wife doesn't always get my best attention or care. When I'm spent, I'm short with her. Today, I wasn't. Today I listened to my boys. My wife and I spent close moments together. We talked. Looking at Selah's wound and hearing her cry, all of a sudden my job seemed so secondary. Not unimportant, just not as important. 

My heavenly Father doesn't panic. Even when I am annoying, my God listens. He is always good. He is very kind to me, to my family. He is faithful. My Lord has called me to shepherd my family and my church. He has given me joy in both tasks. He has been faithful to not abandon me, even in my unfaithfulness. I have learned that He is a trustworthy and mighty refuge. He is a place of peace. I ran to my Lord, and He answered my prayer today. 

                                       Truly God has listened;
                                                He has attended to the voice of my prayer.
                                       Blessed be God,
                                                because He has not rejected my prayer
                                                or removed His steadfast love from me!
                                                                           (Psalm 66:19-20)

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