I wonder if I will ever learn. Day after day I am given opportunities to proclaim the name of Jesus Christ, to express His love, even to share the Gospel with another. I want to be that kind of Christian. The kind who reaches out to others, even strangers, pats them on the shoulder, and says, “God has impressed upon me to tell you Jesus loves you so much,” or “May I pray for you?” But, no, I let so many sacred opportunities pass me by. What is God going to do with me?
For those of us who love God, every circumstance is sacred. Everything in our lives is designed for our ultimate good in the Kingdom of God.
“We know that all things work together for good for those who love God…” (Romans 8:280
As we muddle through our daily matters, face crises, and climb the long winding stairway of life toward heaven, the concept of living sacredly and making each minute count can be pretty daunting.
I keep failing.
Like last week when I ended up in the hospital and was sicker than a dog - not exactly missionary material. I had been retching for twelve hours with a headache that made me wonder if I’d been hit with a bowling ball, had already been taken to Urgent Care, and was getting weaker and sicker by the minute. Did I go to the ER with a halo over my head or even a sweet “Jesus loves you” smile? No, I just croaked, “Get me a bed.”
I was visiting my daughter in Northern Virginia so I could play with my granddaughters and accompany her to her ultra-sound appointment. My sudden illness was inconvenient, to say the least. How could I consider it a “sacred circumstance”?
The physicians at the hospital were of different nationalities and cultures who were very skilled and seriously focused on my condition. It was a mission field, of sorts. My doctors were anxious to run tests to determine if I had bacterial or viral meningitis. Meanwhile they gave my pregnant daughter a mask and instructions to “back away.”
While the doctors ran tests on me, my three daughters and husband were praying over the phone, pleading for God to intervene, heal me and give me peace. Normally, I am paralyzed with fear in medical situations and am overly compliant and kind to all the medical staff. This is not because I want to pray with them, but because I know my welfare is in their hands and I want them to like me. My whole family knows only too well my fear of hospitals. While they prayed, I remained almost comatose, not socializing at all.
Did I pray while I was being treated and tested for meningitis? I only remember saying, “Jesus, Jesus,” over and over. But I was not afraid. Nothing about the whole experience frightened me. I felt like I was in a cocoon where nothing from the outside could threaten me on the inside.
As soon as the mixture of medicine dripped into my veins from two different IV bags made me feel better, I did compliment one doctor on her blouse, and I asked another to refer to needles as “lollipops”, which he did. I believe the Holy Spirit had begun to whisper His love into my beleaguered body. I just wish I had told a doctor or nurse that Jesus loved them.
In spite of the frustrated warnings of the medical staff who wanted to keep me in the hospital for more tests, I left the next day, completely well. Every test they had run came back negative – they could find nothing wrong with me. Why stick around?
I wish I had gathered them all together to tell them I believed in prayer and miracles. I did not. I went home to play with my granddaughters.
If it is true that God brings us to places, people, and certain conditions for His purposes, how could those two days I had been so sick have meant anything for His Kingdom?
“…but the Spirit Himself makes intercession.” (Romans 8:26)
Here is a second part to the mystery of sacred circumstances, and the most important because it leaves every single situation completely in the providence of God. We must remember we are the channels of His Spirit. We have no idea what He is doing through us wherever we are, but we can take comfort that it is a good thing.
The faces of every one of my doctors and some of the nurses keep passing through my mind clear enough that I am aware of them, as I had been when they were taking care of me. Now I pray for them, face by face. Perhaps this is all God wanted from me.
Intercessory prayer is the most powerful tool in the Kingdom of God. It is how God will reach the entire universe for His glory. We may not be articulate, quick thinking, or bent toward evangelism, but we can be His channels of love. We must keep our conscious life open to the Holy Spirit and allow Him to purify our perceptions so that our minds are fertile ground for His saving work.
Two days after I had been released from the hospital, I found myself in a darkened room with my daughter and her Ultra-sound Tech, washed in the miracle of seeing my grandson swimming and squirming through the aqueous comfort of his little space. Pump, pump went his strong heart, round was his belly filled with maternal nourishment, and busy were his stretching limbs. His soft head encased a brain that already processes his mother’s love. Seeing this 9-ounce miracle man brought me to my knees.
How could I ever question God’s plan or sovereignty? He’s the One who made light from darkness, brought life from death. The next time I wonder about the sacredness of my circumstances, I hope will remember – chaos or creation, it is all His.
“In the beginning God created heaven and earth. And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the waters. And God said ‘Let there be light.’ And there was light. And God saw the light: that it was good. And God divided the light from the darkness.” (Genesis 1:1-4)