Saturday, October 31, 2009
I have always been amazed at how much faith a child can display. It seems that no matter how discouraging the circumstances are, a child can see the silver lining in the darkest cloud.
A couple of weeks ago, I wrote about my grandson, Gabe, and his tremendous dedication to God. He has always had such a devotion to the things of God and never seems to tire of His Word. Recently, I have noticed my youngest grandson, Michael, displaying his faith in a different manner. Quite simply, Mikey prays---and he prays with complete trust and faith in his God. When I think of where God has brought Michael from, I am both humbled and awed by Mikey's deep relationship with God.
When Mikey was born, it was apparent from the beginning that he would have a difficult start in life. He cried continuously---not like a colicky baby cries, but like a child who is in agony. Nothing we did eased his discomfort. It was so sad. Then, as if by magic, he stopped crying and became almost totally unresponsive to any of us, his family. He did not laugh, he did not smile, he did not coo. He would lay in his mother's arms with no expression on his beautiful little face. We prayed and cried and sought the Lord for healing. When, at the age of three months, he smiled for the first time, we were ecstatic. From that point on, Mikey smiled almost continuously. Everything we did, every word we spoke, Mikey would smile and coo at us while his eyes lit up with joy. He became affectionate and loving, holding up his little arms for us to pick him up---and we did.
Mikey continued with his laughter and his smiles almost two years. While his smile and his little personality were now a constant, we encountered another problem---Mikey could not talk. He made no attempts to speak. He did not make any sound that could be interpreted as an attempt to talk to us. We would ask him questions and he would just look at us with a big smile and continue with whatever he was doing. How I wanted to hear his little baby voice and to have sweet toddler conversations with him. I wanted to hear him say my name and I wanted to hear him say "Mama".
One Sunday morning after church, we were all together at my parent's home. Mikey was seated on the floor, playing with his toys. I watched him closely and, quite suddenly, felt in my spirit that my father should lay hands on him and pray for his healing. I gathered him in my arms and carried him into the living room. I remember the feel of his little arms around my neck and the way he snuggled into my embrace. I explained to my father what I had felt in my spirit. He took Mikey in those big, strong arms of his and I will never forget his prayer: "Lord, we just ask that you would heal Michael today. Loosen his tongue and let him speak, in Jesus' name. Amen." Such a simple prayer but I felt the presence of our healing Saviour that day. That was Sunday afternoon. By Thursday, Mikey began saying little words--somewhat hesitantly, but he tried. By the next weekend Mikey was speaking in full sentences and has been ever since. Oh, how my heart soared. The first time he looked at me and said, "Gigi", I thought I would faint from the sheer joy of the occasion.
When I think of these things, I am not really surprised that Mikey's relationship with God would be based upon prayer---a part of the relationship that uses his voice. How great is our God!
Our family has greatly benefited from Mikey's prayers. Most recently, He prayed for my father. Daddy had been having severe arthritic pain in his knees. Sometimes the pain has prevented him from doing some of the things he normally loves to do. So, while we were all visiting, my father said to Mikey, "Mikey, come here. I need you to pray for my knees and ask the Lord to take away the pain." My lovely little Mikey laid his small hands on my father's knees. In earnest faith he said, "Lord, we just give you thanks and praise for this day and for your many blessings. Lord, we just ask that you would heal Pa's knees and make them better. In Jesus name, amen." He looked up at my father, smiled that beautiful smile, informed my father that he would be alright, then went back to his toys. His faith was so simple, so profound, that my father and I just looked at each other and grinned. We know how far Mikey has come.
Children are such wonderful little creatures. They are such a blessing and bring us to an understanding of what is really important in life. Children are the only assurance we have that our ideas, our morals, our sincerest beliefs, will move forward into the next generation. Children make the world a wonderful place.
I will long remember a day in October when a little boy, who couldn't speak for so long, prayed a prayer of faith and left his mark upon my heart. I will remember the sound of his childish voice and cherish his childish faith. I will recall the day when God came near and brushed the heart of man. It was the day when Michael prayed.
Friday, October 16, 2009
My oldest grandson, Gabriel, and I have always had a special bond. I loved him the moment he opened his beautiful blue eyes and looked up at me as if he had always known me. He was a peaceful, sweet baby. He loved to snuggle up with me when I laid down to nap with him and his smile was almost a permanent fixture. When he started walking, he followed me everywhere I went. When he started talking, he told me about every toy he played with, every cartoon he watched on television and asked a dozen questions about everything. I didn't mind. He was my little companion--my little friend--my little joy bundle.
When his brother, Michael, was born, Gabe stayed with me while his mother was in the hospital. We went everywhere and did everything together. I revelled in the sound of his laughter and spent hours watching him sleep. He was so precious---he still is.
As a toddler, Gabe asked a hundred questions about God. It was almost as if he hungered after everything I could tell him. When I would say "Hallelujah" during my personal praise and worship, Gabe would throw up a hand and say "Hall-u-jah" and clap his little hands until I joined in and clapped, too.
At age four, I found him staring at a crucifix I had hanging in my foyer. He got a chair, climbed up and looked right into the face of the scuplture of Jesus on the cross. I just watched him and didn't say anything at first. I waited for his questions. The first question was, "Is that Jesus?". I told him yes. His next question was , "What's He doing?". I explained that Jesus loved us so much that He took all of our sins and went to the cross. I told him, in very simple terms, what sin was and how it took us away from God. I described, as best I could, how very much Jesus loved us. I was totally unprepared for what happened next. As he stared at the crucifix, he whispered, "I love you, Jesus.". He then looked at me and said, "Jesus really loves me, Gigi" (this is what he has always called me. Gigi, pronounced with a hard "G"). I could not hold back the tears as I hugged Gabe tight and said, "Yes, Gabe. Jesus really loves you.".
A few days later my father came to my house while Gabe was visiting. Gabe got the chair again, climbed up and proceeded to tell my father the story of Jesus. My father, the wonderful man of God, had tears in his eyes by the time Gabe was done. I could not believe how much Gabriel loved telling the story of Jeus.
Recently, I was reminded again of Gabe's deep love for God. I had taken the boys to church with me and, after driving them home, decided I would join them and their parents at the neighborhood park near their home. We had a lovely time. We fed the ducks, the boys played in the creek and we enjoyed a simple lunch of sandwiches and chips. After lunch, I was enjoying the fall beauty of the park when I heard Gabe call to me, "Gigi, come look at this. It's really important.". When I saw Gabe, he was standing in the sandbox and was waving for me to come to him. As I walked toward him, he had that gorgeous smile on his face. "Look what I wrote," he said. I looked down in the sand and read the following, "Id dy 4 God.". I had to read it twice before it registered in my mind. As I read, Gabe just stood there and smiled. He was proud of what he had written. Tears filled my eyes. "Id dy 4 God.". I looked down at the face I loved so well, stroked his cheek and stared into those beautiful blue eyes. "You really mean that don't you?" I asked. "Uh huh. I sure do." was his quick reply. I hugged him tight and told him how proud of him I was. It was one of the most precious moments of my life.
The picture above is the message Gabe wrote in the sand. A message that should challenge us all to love God with all our hearts, souls, and minds. How much do we love Him? He loved us enough to send His son. He loved us enough to forgive all of the sins of our weak humanity. He loves us just because. I pray that I find the conviction of a seven-year-old boy---a love that says, "I'd rather die for God than live without Him.". I pray that when my faith grows weak, I remember the message in the sand. Gabe's message---"Id dy 4 God.". Me too, Gabe---me too.
Thursday, October 8, 2009
My Bible is one of my most prized possessions and is never far from my side. The study Bible I use most has become worn and a little ragged. It has seen me through many times of questioning and pondering regarding life events. It has opened my eyes to the will and purpose of God in the lives of His weak humanity. In times when there were no ready answers, it has comforted me--held me firm--kept me strong. There is no other book like it.
I have often said that it was my father who gave me my love for the Word of God. At every opportunity he would say to me, "Let's see what the Word has to say about that.". No matter what my question or whatever the circumstance, Daddy pointed me to the Word---to the precious Book. It became my first line of defense in times of despair and my greatest source of comfort when my heart was hurting.
Though there were many times when I turned to the Bible, there is one particular situation that comes to mind the most. It was during the time following the death of my brother, Don. I grieved for him so deeply. I wanted him back and yearned for the sound of his voice, his way of making me feel everything was alright, and just his presence. Oh, my heart hurt so badly. I grieved from the depth of my soul for the first six months following his death. I couldn't eat, couldn't sleep, couldn't do anything. Don was gone and life as I had known it would never be the same. God's Word came to my rescue at about three o'clock one morning. As usual, I had not been able to sleep. I paced the floor with tears streaming down my cheeks and great, heaving sobs rolling from my body. I needed my brother and he wasn't there. I sat down on the sofa and picked up my Bible. I held it in my hand and, from somewhere deep in the recesses of my spirit, it came to me that the comfort I needed was within its pages. I held my Bible in my hands and said this prayer, "God, if you don't give me something to hang on to, I am not going to make it. Please give me something. I need healing. Please help me.". I looked down at my Bible and just let if fall open randomly. In front of me was the following scripture from Proverbs 18:24: "...there is a friend that sticketh closer than a brother.". Oh, how my heart soared. I was instantly made aware of the fact that, no matter what the joy or the sorrow, God was with me. I knew how close my brother and I had been. He was always there for every joy and crisis of my life. If my God was closer than my brother had been, then He was there with me in the midst of all my sorrow, my pain, my loss, my grief.
I cannot tell you that my grief was instantly relieved. I cannot tell you that the yearning for my brother was at that moment taken away. What I can tell you is that I no longer felt alone. I knew, as I had never known before, that God was with me. His Word came to my rescue and became the turning point of my healing. Years later, while doing some research for a seminar I was teaching on "How To Study The Bible", I found the following poem. I copied it and placed it in the front of my Bible.
Something new and beautiful,
Each day within God's Word
I find if I but search until
My listening heart is stirred.
Sweet and precious promises
Unfold with fragrance new,
As saints who've tried and trusted them
Come marching into view.
Could I but reach out lovingly,
And in some way impart
A portion of this mine of gold
To every troubled heart.
This Book. This Book. This precious Book
Forever holds the key
To every door I'll need on earth
And to eternity.
Alice Hansche Mortenson
May we ever see the need for daily doses of God's Word in our lives. Oh, how well it knows us and meets us at every turning point of life. How good of God to place Himself within a Book that will, forever, keep us--lead us--guide us--direct us.
This precious Book---my favorite Book of all.