A Time To Die?

Leaves litter the ground, reminding me how seasons bleed, one into the next, as quick as a blink, while God waits for us to catch new vision.

I kick back on the swing, crunching my feet in fresh crisps of color as I mull over memories of my dear Aunt Shirley.  How strange I can’t call her anymore.

As sudden as a Minnesota temperature drop, her brain aneurism leaves my own brain reeling.

I crumble squeeze a bright orange leaf, blink away pictures of us splashing together at her cottage, of us wizening from sun and water, coming out smelling like fish.

I see Aunt Shirley in the raspberry jam my son grunts to open, in the chocolate kisses my husband gives me, and in all the Avon products my mom personally delivered from Canada.

This is the only Aunt I’ve known, the one who lost her only son in a car accident on his way home from college, the Aunt who fought breast cancer and won.  Gone because of a headache that wouldn’t quit.

Leaves twirl from the trees, faster with each gust of breeze, but my mind slows, leaning itself against an empty prayer place.  It’s strange how I no longer need to pray for my aunt.  Stranger still, how quickly I find myself filling those empty prayer spaces that fill me like air waiting to be exhaled.

The air is thick as I think about cancer in my friend’s young husband who was just moved to hospice.  Winter’s trying to come too early, trying to crush some kind of summer-wonderful.  Yes, this man is full of wonder, husband and father of three sweet girls.  One of the good guys, hungry to live and give.

I fling a leaf off my laptop, imagining Jonathon fighting a pain I’ve never known.  My closest comparison would be giving birth, but what kind of comparison is that?  Other than the fact that I, too, was pumped with drugs, decisions, and prayers.  Except, don’t both kinds of pain lead to new life?

I don’t fight the sob that slips from my hollow places.  I like the word “hollow” because it reminds me of hallowed, the King James way I learned our Lord’s prayer.

“Hallowed be thy name.” Matthew 6:9

Wasn’t that the part before, “Your Kingdom come.  Your will be done.  On earth as it is in heaven…”?

A groan escapes with this plea:  “God, I know you can do something.  I’ve seen you do it again and again.  I know you can.  Do it again.  Will you please?”  The words get longer and stronger as I say them.  It’s not a demand.  It’s an urgent request.

“The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.”  James 5:16

I hold to my sense of knowing that in my imperfection, God meets all the righteous requirements in me, in any of us who embrace Him and His ways.  He is our righteousness.  He’s more than enough.  He is able.

I’m surprised as a little blue bird lands just a few away on the railing.  Did he come to sing me comfort and peace?  Or to remind me of life’s brief, unpredictable flight?

 “A time to mourn and a time to dance…” Ecclesiastes 3:4

I retrieve a leaf that lands near my feet, and I twirl it a bit before noticing the shortness of its stem, the chord that ties it to life.  At least, used to.

How in the world am I supposed to know what time it’s supposed to be ~ a time to dance or a time to weep?  A time for transformation or a time for celebration?  Who in the world is going to teach me how to tell this kind of time?

I say it aloud: “The time question wouldn’t be so tough if I didn’t know a God who I know can heal on earth as He heals in heaven, a God who says that nothing is impossible, a God who can even write a message on the wall if He wants to.”

Nothing.  Just the wind and more dancing away leaves.

I think of the widow who kept coming and asking over and over, pleading with the gruff judge to help her out.   He was no hero ~ just a flat-out tired man who wanted to get her off his case.  He did what so many of us weary moms do: He gave in.  Finally did what she asked.

God, is that what you want from us now?  To keep asking, asking, asking.  What kind of a difference will it make?

I don’t know.  I just know the parable.  I know Jesus told many stories, but this one, along with its compelling intro, managed to make the cut, be included in the canon.  Is it key?

“Then Jesus told his disciples a parable to show them that they should always pray and not give up.” Luke 18:1

God shares His intent.  We ask.  He answers.  One is our job.  One is His job.  So we’re not supposed to stop asking until he says, “no”?

Then why does this discipline of persistent asking sound so parent-to-child simple but feel so out-of-this-world impossible?

I imagine one of my sons persistently asking if he can clean a sick neighbor’s house.

An impossible scenario?  A least an unlikely one.  What kid in their right mind is going to selflessly sacrifice video games, play, making money, etc., in order to step into the uncomfortable and ~ give?

At the same time, what parent isn’t delighted to hear their children ask, press even, for the right things?  And who isn’t going to say “yes”?

I guess the question then is, “What are the “right things”?  And how do I get out of my “right mind”?

It’s lunchtime, but I think of Jonathon lying in bed, possibly being fed a different way.  I don’t know what’s happening with him today, and I’m scared to know.

“God, do you want me to fast and pray for His healing?  Do you want me to collect more people to pray?  Please show me what you’d like me to do, how much you would like me to die today…”

I take a deep breath, exhaling my prayer with the wind.  At least I know where it’s going.

Nobody told the widow to press in with persistence.  But she did.  And it was a good thing.

I say it again.  “God, what kind of love are you calling me to?  What kind of death to self?”

Abba Father, thank you that you care about the hurting and dying a thousand times more than we do.  Thank you that you see the big, bright picture over each dark, hazy one.  Thank you that heaven is home first and foremost, and that earth is just a drop in the bucket compared to eternity.

Thank you that everything is designed to shape us into your image.   

Thank you for the power of loving sacrifice and prayer…  Yours first.  Then ours.  Because you made a way.  We always have an honest reason to say ~ ‘thank you’.

Friend, I invite you to join this chorus of bold, unashamed prayer.  Freely as the Lord leads.  And moves.

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