Prodigal Faith

Look who came to visit me in the hospital after my surgery!! Mike and I have known each other since we were 4 year old preschoolers at PVCA but had only seen each other once since high school graduation. His lovely wife Tara had seen my FB posts and put us in touch, as Mike pastors a church in…can you guess…Providence! I technically wasn’t allowed any visitors, but Mike pulled the clergy card, and what followed was an amazing time of sharing with each other what God has done in our lives these past 18 years! I’m smiling just writing all of this, because only God could have ordained and arranged this time together! I am so proud of the godly man Mike is! And his servant’s heart, the way he actively seeks out people to serve and share the love of Christ with, spoke to me so deeply. He asked me what had happened in my life since we were 18…oh, not much! The day after we graduated high school is the day I fell and broke my tailbone, have lived in constant and worsening pain ever since, and am recovering from my 4th spine surgery. But honestly I didn’t even think to tell him that…all that flooded my mind was the way God has been at work in my life…His faithfulness, His outpouring of love and what has happened from listening to His voice and leading. Because Mike knew me during my angry, rebellious teen, mad at God, looking for attention and love in all the wrong places phase…and I couldn’t wait to share that God hadn’t given up on me! And that God took the challenging situations in my life, the times when in my own strength I was completely helpless, and used them to show me that He is all powerful, He is trustworthy, He is faithful and He is love. God doesn’t give up on us, instead He says, “Look! I stand at the door and knock. If you hear my voice and open the door, I will come in, and we will share a meal together as friends.” Rev 3:20 Boy would I love to be cooking that meal! ‭God loves us when we want nothing to do with Him…it was when we were His enemies that Christ died for us! (Romans 5:10)

“You lived in this world without God and without hope. But now you have been united with Christ Jesus. Once you were far away from God, but now you have been brought near to him through the blood of Christ.” Ephesians‬ ‭2:12-13‬ ‭

Hope…a word so powerful I have it tattooed on my wrist! We serve a God who not only loves the prodigal son, but who throws a banquet for him at his return, sparing no expense! A God who sent His son as a baby, to make our lives complete. The joy that Mike and I had over our Savior’s work in us and through us was palpable. And also yet more evidence of the power of prayer…because Mike told me that he’s been praying for me for years without my knowing! I wonder how many prodigal sons are out there who’ve been reconciled to their Father because of our prayers. Sometimes it takes a long time to have our prayers answered. Sometimes they’re answered in ways we don’t expect. Sometimes we will never see the way God has answered our prayers. But I think one day in heaven we’ll know it all! What a day of rejoicing that will be!! “‘For this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’ So they began to celebrate.” Luke‬ ‭15:24‬ ‭

Mike and I covered 18 years in 2 hours…I haven’t smiled that much in a long time…and smile every time I think about that afternoon in my hospital room…in Providence. A place that time and time again has lived up to its name! This is a photo of that nights sun as I watched it set from my hospital bed…”from the rising of the sun, to the going down of the same, the name of the Lord is to be praised!”

But wait…there’s more! The morning I wrote all of this about Mike’s visit, I was unusually clear headed (as opposed to my usual dizzy blonde state!) and I knew God had put it in my heart to share that story. Those words came pouring out of me and then I eagerly posted it on Facebook. I tagged Tara in the post and went onto her page…I usually don’t scroll through Facebook, but in doing so I saw her urgent request for prayer for Mikes mom, whom I’ve known since I was 4 years old as “Miss O’Brien,” who had suffered a brain hemorrhage and was in the ICU. Immediately I started praying that God would spare her life and for peace for her whole family. I got in touch with Mike who kept me updated over a very rocky couple of weeks, as she went on to suffer a series of seizures, was unresponsive and on a ventilator, and there were times they didn’t think she would make it through the night, let alone ever resume normal functions again like vision, speech and processing. Over those weeks I witnessed Mikes faith in a God who can part the sea, and it was an honor to pray with him to that end. One night Mike texted me that he could feel the Holy Spirit in his mom’s hospital room, that he could see that little rain cloud that Elijah had so fervently prayed for as a sign of Gods presence, before the torrents of rain came as a sign of God’s power. He said to me, “All we need is a little ‘cloud’ to know God is about to shift things.” And then miraculously, over the next few days, Miss O’Brien was healed! Taken off the ventilator, able to speak and process, see clearly, eat a meal and smile at the camera. As I’m writing this I am still in awe at how this story unfolded! The way God brought Mike back into my life to be a friend, prayer warrior and huge source of encouragement during these challenging times, the way God led me to write down that story of His love, mercy and faithfulness on full display, and then in doing so how it led me to be there for Mike through an extremely difficult time and gave me the opportunity to get down on my knees before our God and request his healing for Miss O’Brien. And then to share in the awe and ecstasy of her miraculous healing and to praise our creator God for the grace He poured out into her life!!!

When we listen to and move in the Spirit…we always end up right in the middle of Gods will for us…where there is always increase, there is always healing, there is always joy, there is always peace, there is always hope, there is always abundance and there is always reason for celebration!! Just like that Father threw a banquet for his son at his return, God gives us reasons to throw a banquet for the miracles He’s doing all around us! And even when they come in ways we didn’t ask for, or the healing isn’t physically our own…God uses these experiences to bolster our faith, show us His love and to lift up our downcast eyes towards His glorious light.

A few months ago my pastor at Hillsong East Coast preached about storms in our lives, and the ways we experience more about Gods character in the midst of them. We can use our pain as a reminder…God has, God does, God will. And we can be fearful of the storm and circumstances, but also be in awe of Jesus in the boat with us! Sometimes God calms the storm, and sometimes he lets the storm rage and calms his child. A troubled saint once said, “I prayed for less wind in my sails, and God gave me more sails for the wind.” And isn’t that a perfect depiction of our God in the face of this stormy season!!

“There’s a name that levels mountains
And carves out highways through the sea
And I’ve seen its power unravel battles
Right in front of me

Oh, there’s a faith that stands defiant
It sends Goliath to his knees
And I’ve seen His praise unravel shackles
Right off my feet

‘Cause that’s the power of Your name
Just a mention makes a way
Giants fall and strongholds break and there is healing
And that’s the power that I claim
It’s the same that rolled the grave
And there’s no power like the mighty name of Jesus

Oh, there’s a hope that calls out courage
And in the furnace unafraid
The kind of daring expectation
That every prayer I make
Is on an empty grave

There’s no power like the mighty name of Jesus

‘Cause I see You taking ground
Oh, I see You press ahead
And Your power is dangerous to the enemy’s camp
You still do miracles
And You will do what You said
For You’re the same God now as You’ve always been”

@Hillsong, That’s the Power


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