Today, many will celebrate Independence Day and as a tribute to those who have ever fought for our freedom, will indulge at a cookout.
My thoughts today go back to May, 2003. My daughter was hospitalized and I had started attending a small church. Although it was small, I think that’s why I liked it so much, it was a family environment.
One Sunday, the Pastor told us that a member of the congregation who was also a school teacher had been called off to serve in Iraq. He gave us her name and her e-mail address, asking that we keep her in prayer and that we send her words of encouragement from time to time.
Never having met her before, I prayed over what I should say in the e-mail to her. How are you? didn’t seem appropriate.
After much prayer and trepidation, I introduced myself to her and sent her an email thanking her for the work she was doing and then quoted from several of the Psalms.
She replied with an introductory e-mail and thanked me and a friendship was borne.
My children and I began mailing cards and letters, in addition to e-mails. She sent us a list of soldiers who didn’t have family who would write to them and we wrote.
Each time there was a casualty of war, I was TERRIFIED that it would be her.
One night, I was dreaming and woke up in tears. My heart was racing and my emotions were in a panic. I “saw” my friend overseas, hiding in bushes, with a gun held to her head and it felt REAL. I stayed awake all night on my knees praying that God would not take her, the he would deliver her from imminent danger – seen and unseen.
I sent an e-mail and while not mentioning my dream, this message contained prayers for safety and I urged her to seek God in EVERY step she took.
Typically, I would get a response from her within a week or so – depending on where she was and access to computers.
Shortly after the small church that I attended had merged with a larger church and one Sunday the Pastor announced that we had a VERY special visitor in the audience. It was her.
The first thing she said asked was for someone to point me out and tears instantly welled up in my eyes.
We hugged FOREVER and cried. Then she told me: I was the ONLY person who had heeded the Pastor’s call to write to her. She cried because the last e-mail I sent to her prompted her to ask God to move her from the area of service she was in. Shortly after she moved, the beheadings began. Her previous position would have been to serve in a position where she at that time, most CERTAINLY would have been beheaded.
She is still a dear friend and I can honestly say, I would give my life for her. She has stood in the gap for me during times when I could not stand for myself and through my recent struggle, she’s been right by side, every step of the way, no matter how ugly, uncomfortable or embarrassing it would have otherwise felt.
Even as I think back to that time, I’m struck with the thought that while many of us are not able or even desire to serve in the military, there is still a war that we can be soldiers of. That’s what prayer warriors are called to do. In times of war AND in times of peace.
It’s the war of faith and our work is called intercession.
How many times have you FELT something, had a FEELING about something – good or bad?
And then it happened.
Although it’s happened to me most of my life, of course, some stand out more than others.
While going to the same church, I befriended a woman who had survived cancer once and was now battling the second time. As a result, she had a double mastectomy and was on the road to recovery.
Again, I woke up one night in a cold sweat and a feeling in my gut that something terrible had happened to her. I tried to “shake it off”, but, as I pulled out my bible, there was only one thing on my mind: King Hezekiah.
So I began to pray as Hezekiah prayed: “Remember, O God, who I am, what I’ve done! I’ve lived an honest life before you, My heart’s been true and steady, I’ve lived to please you; lived for your approval.” I asked that God would remember HER life as a single mom and someone who always volunteered and was faithful to him.
As the tears flowed, I kept saying that it was not her time to go.
As soon as the sun came up, I called her and asked how she was doing.
She said she was doing fine and that all was going well.
KNOWING that I KNEW, I then asked “how are you REALLY doing?” and told her that I had been praying for her all night, without disclosing the subject of the prayer.
As she began to cry, she told me that she needed a blood transfusion, but, that she was tired of fighting any more. She was tired emotionally and mentally, and physically she was exhausted. She said she would be at church and that she would see me there.
Long story short, when we got to church I asked that other women of faith join me in praying over her and the next day, several of us sat in a cancer center with her to receive the transfusion. The nurse told us that if she had not received the transfusion when she had, she would not have been with us much longer.
That was more than six years ago and she is in optimum health today!
Sometimes, people just need encouragement. Sometimes, people need prayer. But, more importantly, people need for you to encourage them by being obedient to God and being the answer to prayer.
Don’t run from danger.
Don’t be afraid to stand in the gap for someone else.
I know it can become burdensome. Trust me, I know that it might feel that YOU need handholding or prayer more than those you are praying for.
However, the truth is, we should never pray for another or stand in the gap for another because of what WE want. Jesus said:
Matthew 25:40 “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.”
Furthermore, God delights so much more in our obedience than in our sacrifice. Obey the crying and groaning of the spirit to intercede on behalf of someone else.
Please, don’t run from danger. You might just save a life…