My husband, Nick, is a graduate student in a Master's of Divinity (MDiv) program in a Saint Louis seminary. We have a daughter, Abigail, who is almost 4, and a son, Evan, who is almost 2. We follow Jesus Christ as far as humanly possible, and God meets us more than halfway with his grace. This is a reflection on prayer.
Encountering a wide range of personal stories on the seminary campus is old hat by now. There is no 'typical' student. One thing in common is that for many students and their families, the decision process to enter this MDiv program took a lot of hard decisions and the students feel strongly 'called' into ministry. It is no high rolling life, after all.
I want to personally say "Thank you!" to all the people who are financially and prayerfully supporting Nick and our family. We are very richly provided for -- so abundantly provided for, that deciding to give back 10% to God, or more to meet others' needs is easy. Because our basic needs are very well met, we haven't been the best at letting Christian brothers and sisters into our lives through prayer. I'd like to change that!
One A-Ha momentLast week, our church finished out a series on James. The last sermon ended with how to authentically be in touch with one's own emotions and needs, and how to then transparently share those with other followers of Jesus.
Letting people into my yucky sickness? No, thanks! I'd rather hole up under the covers.
Is anyone among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer of faith will save the one who is sick, and the Lord will raise him up. And if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven. Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working. James 5:14-16, underlines added
Apparently, the context is "at risk of death" extreme sickness, something that jeopardizes one's life, not an annoying affliction. And, the pastor interpreted the role of faith in healing in this contested passage as "prayer with a posture of trust, confidence, and certainty, but also submission and yielding to God's sovereign will." But look at all the wholeness and full life that can result! Don't you want a piece of that?!
Second A-Ha momentNick recently shared an article on Facebook called "Dealing With Demons." Reading through it, all I could think about was our son, Evan.
Just weeks before we officially found out that Nick's job at a Chicagoland church was ending, just weeks before we began this journey to Saint Louis, Evan was diagnosed with an egg allergy. His allergist has prescribed an Epi-pen for anaphylaxis, and Benadryl for managing small symptoms. Then, we move states and start building friendships from scratch. How do most people like to get to know one another? By eating together.... something that is now a risk for Evan. So, his allergy has changed how we can be involved in new community.
I don't count it as coincidence that Evan's allergy developed just as Nick was considering speeding up his education to be a pastor. Truthfully, the devil seeks to isolate individuals, casting feelings of being undesired, abandoned, or fearing. Furthermore, minor symptoms of his allergy could mimic minor colds, or other things going on in his body. Often, Evan wakes in the middle of the night, from his night sleep, or early from his naps crying quite hard. Frequently, he calmed by nothing, and cannot articulate what's wrong (he uses lots of words otherwise). This hard crying interrupts Nick's studying while I'm gone tutoring, or it interrupts vital weekly household tasks, or it leaves everyone pretty groggy and short tempered with each other the next day. Little kids do cry and have bad dreams - Evan is inconsolable.
Satan does not want people rescued out of darkness and brought into the light. He will use ordinary, frustrating events to harass the believer, and occasionally he will employ extraordinary means to bolster his scare tactics. E. Stoddard
Taking Jesus' invitation to pray, and James' admonition to pray seriously, Nick and I prayed for Evan and everyone else's sleep last night among other requests for God's shelter and protection. Evan cried out once, but put himself back to sleep. The kids were peaceable through our morning routine.
Would you pray boldly, with a posture of trust, confidence, and certainty, but also submission and yielding to God's sovereign will?
For Evan's allergy to be completely gone, for wholeness
For 1-2 great friendships on the seminary campus
For 1-2 great friendships in our small group Bible study
For protection from the devil for our family - so nothing will hinder us as we share Jesus with others