Tag Archive | pray

Silence is Golden

silence

When words don’t seem to help our children with mental illness (MI), what can we do? Keep quiet. Silence is powerful. I learned that the hard way decades ago.

In college, my friend, Dave, got one of THOSE middle-of-the-night phone calls. The caller delivered heart-wrenching news.

Dave’s first reaction: he called me.

“Vicki, my best friend was killed in a car accident. I need to see you.”

Why is he calling ME? I suppose it’s because we share a strong faith in God. But I’ve never experienced the death of a loved one.

I sought advice from my roommate.

“Karen, the roommate you had for three years died suddenly last year. What should I say to Dave?”

Karen advised, “Nothing. Let him talk. Or just sit quietly with him. Share a hug and a tear.”

After college, my husband and I kept in touch with Dave and his wife, Trish. We were closer than friends— more like family. They had their first child, Ryan, around the same time we had Chris. Soon after, they had Kevin and we had Bobby.

One day, I got another call from Dave.

“Vicki, Ryan went to be with the Lord today. He drowned in our pool. We’re coming over.”

Ryan was only two years old.

My roommate’s wisdom helped once again. When they visited, we simply hugged, cried, and prayed. And listened to what they had to say. Dave shared even more disturbing information.

To add to the horror of it, we learned that Trish’s and Dave’s mother and father lost a child when they were young parents. Both sets of grandparents were reliving their own nightmare.

So when Ryan died, Dave sought advice from his father. “Dad, you’ve been through this.  What advice can you give me?”

He simply answered, “Son, you speak of your faith.  Now it’s time to use it.”

Another opportunity came for me to practice silence in the presence of someone grieving. I was the assistant director of an overnight week-long Christian summer camp for children with disabilities. One of the campers, Bruce, experienced a tragic loss just weeks before camp. His single mother died, leaving his aunt to raise him. The aunt chose to send Bruce to camp. Our staff had training and experience with children with intellectual disabilities. She hoped we could minister to Bruce.

Alex, Bruce’s counselor, sought my advice. “Bruce is having trouble getting to sleep at night. He just cries. What should I say to him?”

“Nothing. Just spend time with him. Silently pray for him.”

Those of us raising kids with MI sometimes feel helpless. We’re unsure how to help our vulnerable and fragile children. It’s comforting to know that our silence speaks volumes. It says, “I’m here for you.” Our gentle touch says, “I understand and care.”

What about our grief? It’s hard to see our loved one suffering. Why does God delay in helping our children?

The death of Lazarus provides an answer. Mary and Martha sought the Lord to heal their brother.

“Therefore the sisters sent to Him, saying, ‘Lord, behold, he whom You love is sick.’  When Jesus heard that, He said, ‘This sickness is not unto death, but for the glory of God, that the Son of God may be glorified through it.’  Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus. So, when He heard that he was sick, He stayed two more days in the place where He was. (John 11:3-6)”

The word ‘so’ can lead to some confusion about this story. The strange thing about the events in this scene is that Jesus remained where he was for two more days apparently because of His love for Mary, Martha, and Lazarus. If Jesus loved them so much, why didn’t he rush off right away? Jesus gave them a hint of the great work He would do and the reason for His delay: so ‘that the Son of God may be glorified through it.’

Jesus explained his delay again to his disciples.

“Then Jesus said to them plainly, ‘Lazarus is dead. And I am glad for your sakes that I was not there, that you may believe. Nevertheless let us go to him. (John 11:14-15)’”

When Jesus finally arrived on the scene, Lazarus had been in the tomb for four days.  Both his sisters struggled with a common torment many of us struggle with: If only…

“Now Martha said to Jesus, ‘Lord, if You had been here, my brother would not have died.’… Then, when Mary came where Jesus was, and saw Him, she fell down at His feet, saying to Him, ‘Lord, if You had been here, my brother would not have died. (John 11:21, 32)’”

But Jesus gently reminded them of the reason for His delay:

“Jesus said to her, ‘Did I not say to you that if you would believe you would see the glory of God? (John 11:40)’”

God is working out His perfect plan in His timing. He’s still in control. Even of the weather. Eastern US has gotten record amounts of snow this winter. Each snowfall is a reminder of our forgiveness. We stand before God ‘white as snow’ because of Christ’s blood. Reflect on His love as you listen to ‘White As Snow’ by Maranatha Singers.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mmfwVYMu_Ow

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God, where are You?

walking in snow walking in snow2
‘Ever wonder if God is really there? You pray and there’s silence.
Sometimes, it seems a prayer goes unanswered. Other times, the answer isn’t what was expected.

Am I the only one who asks God for help and proceeds to tell the Creator of the universe exactly how to answer?

Recently, God provided precisely what I requested.

A winter storm hit our area. Meteorologists predicted sizable snow accumulations and blustery winds. Those forecasts didn’t deter Chris from his plans. Before the first snowflake, our son headed out to a bowling alley seven miles away. His intention: to walk home.

Chris proceeded to leave, carrying a huge backpack.
Howie offered, “I’ll drive you home.”
“No, I wanna walk home.”
Howie didn’t repeat the offer. No point disputing Chris’s decision. Arguing with someone who has mental illness (MI) isn’t a good idea…reasoning with him isn’t usually possible.
Although rejecting the assistance made no sense, Chris’s mind was set.

At nightfall, the storm arrived with a vengeance. Gusts of wind created white-out conditions.

I couldn’t get the image of Chris out of my mind. I pictured him trudging alone, in the dark, on the side of a snow-covered road. Thoughts of cars creeping by on slick surfaces tormented me.
Will drivers see him in the dark? What if a car spins out of control right next to him?

I calculated how long it would take to walk seven miles in good weather. Two hours, at least. But, battling defensive linebacker- strength winds could make it much longer. The journey could take close to four hours.

“Howie, please pray for someone to offer Chris a ride home.” With bowed heads, we lifted up our hearts.

The night wore on. I couldn’t sleep. What mother can sleep not knowing what’s happening to her vulnerable child who has MI? Midnight came. Still no Chris. 1:00… 2:00…

Will I hear the front door open or the phone ring?

Finally, at 2:45 AM the door opened, telling me Chris returned home safely.

The next day, Chris told Howie someone at the bowling alley offered him a ride. He turned it down.

Where was God when Chris rejected the second offer?
He was providing His answer to our specific prayer: for someone to offer Chris a ride.

Surely, God knew we meant that we wanted our son to be spared the ice-cold trek home.
But, God demonstrated His ever-present care for our son. He moved in the heart of the person at the bowling alley. He honored Chris’s free will. And protected Chris as he trudged home in a storm.

It’s hard to understand why anyone would reject help and willingly choose to venture out into a storm. Yet, isn’t that what we do? We ignore God’s presence in our troubles. God says, “I’m here for you.” We respond, “No thanks…I’ve got it. Never mind…I know the way. I can handle this myself. “

We head into the storm, rejecting God’s assistance. Our Father knows how my husband felt when Chris declined his offer. He knows what it’s like to watch us as we struggle needlessly on our own.

God promised Moses and Joshua He’d be with them. With that promise, Joshua was able to assure his people.
“Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you (Deuteronomy 31:6).”

When you face a river of uncertainty, can you hear the words God spoke to Joshua? The Lord your God goes with you. Do you hear Him beckoning you to walk with Him?

Will you stagger alone, or stroll with your Lord?

Listen to Him call you as you watch Alan Jackson perform the song ‘In The Garden.’

Ask Like A Toddler

“So I say to you: Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened. Which of you fathers, if your son asks for a fish, will give him a snake instead? Or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion? If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!”   Luke 11:9-13

Toddlers don’t hesitate to ask parents for what they want. Sadly, maturity sometimes leads to reluctance to ask for help.

When I taught second graders I often had parents volunteering in my classroom. They helped me with necessary tasks such as making copies and changing bulletin boards. Their extra set of hands helped with art projects. Students benefitted from an extra pair of eyes.

One day a parent volunteer noticed a student quietly shivering in my cold air conditioned classroom.

“I think that girl needs a sweater,” the alert parent whispered.

Why didn’t she just ask for a sweater? There were two adults in the room and yet she didn’t ask for what she needed. She quietly endured discomfort.

We do the same thing with God. Often, we quietly suffer without simply asking God for the relief we need. Just as our hearts went out to the little girl, God’s heart is near to you. We answered the unspoken request of that child. God sometimes answerers our unspoken requests. But, He desires that we cry out to Him in our times of need.

It’s so easy to slip into the pattern of managing everything. We take our child to the psychiatrist, make sure he takes his medication, and contact his school. We’re even proactive at saving our troubled marriage. We talk to our husbands, right? Trying our best to work through grief together. Without stopping to ask God for help.

Handling everything ourselves can be futile. Discouraging. Depressing. It can lead to a negative outlook on our situation. Turning to Him, can restore a heavenly up look on life.

I sometimes have to learn the hard way by not tapping into God’s unlimited power and love. But other times, I witness incredible answers to prayer. When I pause to send a specific request heavenward.

We read about Christ silencing the wind and flattening waves. How He healed a soldier’s severed ear and raised Lazarus from the dead. We have access to that power. Is it the busyness of life that prevents us from turning to our Father?

It’s like we’re locked in a room with open doors. Christ challenges us to knock and the door will be opened. He’s whispering to you the same question He asked the blind man, “What do you want Me to do for you?”

Ask like a toddler and wait expectantly for God’s answer. It will come!