"The times when you have seen only one set of footprints, is when I carried you"
Have you ever felt like God has gone AWOL? Absent without leave....Absent without discussing it with you.....you feel something like: "Hey God, do you even remember that you promised you would never leave me?....Hello?....God?"
The angry beast of abandonment, with all of its lies and cunning, has officially stormed into Natalie's life and has wrapped it's talons tightly around her. I don't know any other way to describe it. Three months of intensive therapy appears to have fed the beast...and has mounted up the lies...the intentional grip of the enemy is tighter than ever. Mocking us. Pushing us away. Threatening to destroy.
Several years ago, I read a book that was written by a man who served as a missionary in a remote part of the world that still practiced cannibalism. In an effort to reach those tribal people, he would hold tent meetings in the middle of the jungle. Sometimes the meetings would go on for days at a time. People desperate to hear truth would hear of this man and would travel on foot for miles to listen to his words about a Savior who loved them. And at the close of each service, he would invite these people to come forward and be prayed over. He witnessed many miracles in those days.
On one particular occasion, a woman who was blind came forward at the end of the service. She prayed to be healed, but was not healed. The missionary recounted how he feared her not being healed would cause others in the meeting to doubt the Word of God. She came to meeting after meeting, and each time would pray with her whole heart for the God of the Universe to heal her eyes and give her vision again....and night after night she went away blind.
The missionary would get down on his knees at night before sleeping and ask God to heal this woman so that others would not doubt God's word but would believe....but each time, she was not healed. It got to a point where this man would literally hope the woman would not walk down the aisle for healing. But faithfully, she would come....night after night....begging her new found Savior to heal her.
And it happened. One night, she was healed.
The man spent many years trying to understand why God did not heal the woman the first time she had prayed....often asking the Lord why it took Him so long. And in His old age, God granted the man the answer to his prayer through a dream.
In the dream, the man went back in time to see the woman at the tent meeting....walking down the aisle. But this time, he saw what looked like tentacles that were alive and covering her face and eyes. He saw himself praying over her, and watched as one tentacle fell from her face. Then God allowed him to see another night....and another night....and still another. Each night he watched as yet another tentacle dropped from the woman's face when he had prayed over her.
And finally, on that last night....the night of her miracle healing....he saw it all. The woman walked forward as she had the other nights with complete faith for healing....but this time he saw the one tentacle still covering her eyes. And he also noted his face of dread on that night as he had not expected the woman to be healed. But in this dream/vision, he understood. And as he watched himself pray over her, he saw the last tentacle drop and the look of elation on both his face and the woman's as she was healed...set free! And at that moment, his eyes were open too. Open to a whole new truth.
When I read this story 10 years ago, it grabbed my attention. I remember thinking about the labor of prayer and faith that was required for this woman to receive her healing....and I considered the enemy's far-reaching ploys and gamesmanship. The woman's prayer was answered the first time she walked down the aisle to accept healing, but her requirement was to continue in faith regardless of what most would consider an unanswered prayer....a God who had gone AWOL.
That is Natalie's test....my test....isn't it really a test for each of us? As family members in the body of Christ, we do not give up laboring for one another in prayer. We may doubt God from time to time, but in obedience, we continue to pray. That is WHO He made us to be. A people who don't give up.
Sometimes we wander in the wilderness, yes. Looking for the cloud by day and the fire by night, definitely. At times we are like dear old Abraham standing over Isaac....hoping to hear God's voice of direction. Other times we are Joseph in jail....waiting for Him to set us free. But we never give up. And we choose to believe that in the times when God seems to have gone AWOL....and when we are only seeing one set of footprints in the sand....that He is indeed lovingly carrying us through.
Thank you for joining my family in prayer for this miracle! We believe: "Greater is He that is in us....than he that is in the world."
(An update on Lydia: She is holding fast to her fundraising efforts to save 5 orphans who have special needs....if anything, this trial with Natalie has only served to make our family more serious about the dire need for orphans to have forever families. If you want to be a part of this project, click here: http://www.reecesrainbow.org/lydiahollis )