A Fine Sailor

       I so appreciate having the Lord as my strength and captain in this life.  Without Him to part the waters and direct the ship, I’d be lost at sea. Or capsized and drowned. I’m a very bad sailor. Wearing a life jacket is a fine thing, but it doesn’t protect the boat from crashing into the rocks. Jesus is far more than a life jacket. He’s our pilot.

       I know how to row a boat, that’s not it.  I knew my way around the Michigan lake where my family spent its summers.  Sometimes Dad took us to the marina in Mipadeka or the motor boat to buy groceries. (Mipadeka was our rowboat, named by using the first two letters of our names in order: Mike, Pat, Debby and Karen.) But navigating life is quite another thing. Life’s an ocean, wide and dangerous, stormy and deep; some mornings I resist rising from bed, as if that avoids challenges. Life is wary and can bring sudden trials from around a corner.

Some are easy enough to handle, a simple notice about an overdue lost library book. A friend asking for prayer. A doctor postponing an appointment. A warning light in your vehicle.

Others are not. Like waking up with a weird, unidentifiable stab of pain in your back, first on the right, then the left.  What?  Or finding I’ve disappointed or made someone angry, someone important enough to trouble me. A car accident causing injury, yet you survived. Even worse is a diagnosis of a serious disease or condition that was heretofore well hidden in your body.

God is there for us. He’s not an absent friend. He knows. If we’re on his team, he’s not only stepped into our boat, he’s commanding the choppy waters. And well. He’s a fine sailor.  Though I sometimes put myself at the helm of the boat forgetting he’s there, Praise God, I usually come to my senses quickly and relinquish the boat to him. How swiftly he does rush to me, when I pray.  How wonderfully he sends wisdom to solve the puzzle, strength to shoulder the burden, or miraculously lift the load. And in the worst case scenario, even if we feel alone, we are not alone.

“Now it happened, on a certain day that He got into a boat with His disciples.  And He said to them, ‘Let us cross over to the other side of the lake.’ And they launched out.”  ~Luke 8: 22

Dearest Lord, would you remind us you’re in the boat? You launched it, and you’re navigating. Please minister to people we observe with pronounced needs.  Please forgive our sin, for ways we misstepped, or had no vision to see.  Give us grace to make amends.  Please lift the sorrow and pain of life, if that’s possible.  Help us find things we’ve misplaced, or learn to live without the persons or things no longer ours to hold. Grant us wisdom and counsel to respond to others as you would. Bind evil. Please bring healing to our body and mind or loved one’s, enabling us to walk in fellowship with You, to know your peace and be comforted by Your love. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

re mark a ble

 

When I planned yesterday, I hoped for good. I did not imagine remarkable.  Remarkable is worthy of attention, striking.  I couldn’t have known.

Emily, in Our Town by Thornton Wilder, is allowed to return to earth for a day.  She is rattled by what she formerly took for granted but now sees as amazing. “Do any human beings ever realize life, while they live it?—every, every minute?” she asks.

Sometimes remarkable are the once in a lifetime situations.  Other times it is a combination of events that mark our day. Often, it can be both.

Foremost on the docket was the slated surgery of a friend who’d called the night before to ask for prayer.  Over the phone, she and I and her daughter prayed. The surgery had popped up like a fully inflated beach ball released under water.  The doctors said it was urgent to insert a pick line (with a “pigtail”) into her lung to drain fluid and mucus.  But because of her blood clot status, the blood thinners had to be stopped at a precise juncture.  As a brand new medicine, the timing had never been tried before. A maverick and risky balance was needed.  My friend had already had one stroke; she didn’t need another.

The situation rallied me into unceasing prayer.

I put my friend on a personal prayer chain. And importuned God in a way that surprised myself, as if prayer took over and I was along for the ride.  I pleaded with Him with words I knew and words I didn’t.  They tumbled out, were punctuated, loud, and repeated.  But not vain repetitions. Meaningful poetic and pleading words I prayed until peace came. My wind-blown waters flattened and became smooth and still.

In Madeleine L’Engle’s Circle of Quiet at the end, she speaks of the human mind being like a radio or television set.  “With our conscious, surface selves we are able to tune in only a few wave lengths.  But there are others, and sometimes in our dreams we will pick up a scene from a distant, unknown, seemingly non-rational channel—But is it non-rational?  Or is it another language, using metaphors and similes with which we are not yet familiar?”

This was my experience. I remember asking God to apply my prayers to the timing of the surgery.  (I thought it was occurring at this exact juncture. But hospital delays can occur.)

In the meantime, I had to distract myself. I shoveled dirt out of holes for a cactus and rose bush, was given a cancellation appointment to get my nails repaired, and visited my stepfather across town.   I stopped at a thrift store to distract me more and found a card lover’s garden: professional quality greeting cards at Ben Franklin roll back prices: ten cents each.

The afternoon arrived without a surgery update except for notice it’d been delayed three hours. No matter. God lives in eternity, not bound to this world’s schema. I believe prayer can be retroactive and fast forward.

I finished my lunch.  An awaited for text about the surgery came like a telegram: SUCCESS!  Details to follow.  Thank you, Jesus!

Fighting an infection, I took a nap. But I had a mid-day counseling appointment and set the alarm. But it did not sound. I slept on. I awoke with a bolt two minutes before I had to leave. God had awakened me.  My pastor gave me counsel I desperately needed for an impasse.

Having left the house so quickly, I forgot my phone.  (I miss subbing jobs without it.) But I hadn’t been in the door five minutes when a job came forward for me.

My husband cooked a fabulous Thai noodle dinner, and on the last bite, the doorbell rang.  There had been no confirmation that my high school piano student was coming, but here she was.

Sunset came and with it, the stellar realization that this day had been remarkable.

Are all days full of the stunning?  No, of course not.

But I subscribe to the premise that each day has the remarkable in it.  All we have to do is pay attention in Word and prayer and in comes God to remind us He loves us.

As a girl growing up in the Methodist Church, one of the songs we always sang in the service was the Doxology.  I still love it.

 

Praise God from whom all blessings flow!

Praise Him all creatures here below!

Praise Him above ye, heavenly hosts.

Praise Father, Son and Holy Ghost.

Amen.