For some reason yesterday just slipped right past me. It was one of those days when even though you have little to accomplish, what you do accomplish gets done as if you are moving through sludge. Admittedly, I may have been overdosing on Benadryl.
I woke today determined to “reclaim” my senses and clear away the sludge. I laced up my running shoes and headed out for a lung-burning, mind-clearing jog. As I lugged myself past the houses in my neighborhood I felt lead to pray for my neighbors. Fortunately, this did not require actually speaking words aloud as at the time all my respiratory efforts focused on the simple task of breathing in and out.
I usually finish my jog with laps around the parking lot of a church just down our street. Everyday there is at least one vehicle in the lot, a burgundy truck. I have seen the driver before; an elderly man who I assumed was either a pastor or caretaker of the building. Today I thought of him. I prayed God would continue to give him good health and strength for the tasks that await his day. I prayed God would give him wisdom for challenges he may face…..then I found myself wondering…”what am I doing?”
I had conjured in my head an entire scenario of who this man was and what he did for a living. I couldn’t help myself. Soon I was praying for the church and it’s congregation. I have jogged around this parking lot all summer, yet today was the first time I felt lead to pray for them. Where was this coming from I wondered. Maybe it was a lack of oxygen from my inability to master the “ breathing in through your nose and out your mouth” technique I was working on. Then I realized it was my wonderful God reminding me of a lesson He taught me long ago, and one I obviously needed to consider once more.
It is now such a clear memory, but honestly I have not thought of it in a long time. I think it was over ten years ago it occurred. At the time our church met in an older building across town and we lived in a different neighborhood…….cue the foggy dream/flashback image….
It was an early Sunday morning. I was getting a quick walk in before getting ready for church, a new exercise effort for me at the time. I tossed on an old sweatshirt, even though it was warm outside, worn out sweatpants and surprisingly NOT worn out tennis shoes.
I recall passing a couple walking the opposite direction. He was tall and had dark curly hair, she was slender and attractive. Both looked like they could pose for a fitness advertisement. After a quick “morning” comment I ducked my ball capped head in hopes they would not judge my appearance harshly.
I had recently heard, or read, about praying for things and people as you go on walks and decided this was a good time to start. I prayed for the couple. I wondered if they too were walking that early so they could attend church. I prayed they would overcome any obstacles that might keep them from getting to a house of worship. I don’t know WHY I always create some kind of story line in my head…. I then continued my walk and did not think of them again. UNTILLLLLLLLL….
Later that morning I was greeting the children who were entering the 2nd grade Sunday school class I taught. A visitor came to our door. I was startled when I looked up from the sweet face of my young guest and found myself looking into the eyes of the man whom I had passed, and prayed for, earlier that morning! Imagine his surprise when I blurted out of nowhere, “I PRAYED FOR YOU TODAY!” Yep, he looked a bit scared and seemed to grip his son’s hand a little tighter, as if rethinking leaving him in my care. I then began to explain to him the events of the morning. He remembered passing someone, but did not recognize me due to my ball cap I suppose. He shared that he and his wife were just walking before church. They had been seeking a church home for several months. Visiting different churches was challenging since they had a large family and a wheel chair bound grandmother living with them.
Here is what I learned then, and am reminded of today: I did not “pray” them to church. God did not need me to pray in order for them to make it there that day. However, what God did want me to do was to be obedient. Because I prayed as it was on my heart, when He brought this sweet family to our church, I received a blessing of seeing His fingerprints all over it. God wants us to pray so that in doing so, we can glorify HIM and though we may not always receive answers we desire, we will no doubt know He is sovereign, and we will be less inclined to miss evidence of Him in our lives.