|Do you see the lightpole and the white marked parking spaces going into|
the water? This is Raccoon Lake, flooded from the heavy rains that we've
been getting in Indiana. Now imagine all that water on our city streets!
I went to the local grocery store one night after work. On my way, I called a good friend that I hadn’t talked with in a long time. I had gotten a note from her saying that she had been diagnosed with grade 1 invasive lobular carcinoma (aka breast cancer). She thought that she would need a lumpectomy and perhaps something more, if required. I’d added her to my prayer list and we’d been trying to talk by phone for six weeks, without success. I was anxious to hear how she was doing.
The sun was shining and we talked for almost an hour. I had arrived at the store and stayed in the parking lot, talking. She was healing from a double mastectomy. What had begun as stage 1 breast cancer had turned into one of several serious surgeries. She thought she’d also have chemotherapy and wasn’t sure about radiation.
My heart hurt for her. She was in good spirits and was thankful that modern medicine, and God, had given her a good outcome. I was in awe of how courageous she sounded, how brave she had been in making decisions that would have had me a puddle of tears. She said that she’d had a lot of people praying for her and that it had given her strength. She reminded me that she was blessed to have her faith in God, to help get her through it. I was humbled by her words.
I thought about her throughout the entire grocery store. I prayed for her in produce, the meat section, even the chip aisle. All I could think was “God, please heal her, give her strength and peace.” Having just lost a friend from lymphoma, I wasn’t sure what else to pray. I reminded myself that the object of my faith – God – is what makes prayer valuable, not my ability (or inability) to stay strong.
By the time I checked out, thunder was pounding the store roof and it was pouring rain. I borrowed an umbrella to get the groceries to the car and in a few seconds I was soaked and the wind had turned the umbrella inside-out.
Once safely inside the car, I continued praying for my friend’s health and well-being. I hadn’t gone two blocks before I noticed that visibility was bad. The rain wasn’t going to let up anytime soon and I had refrigerated items so I continued on. I turned on neighborhood roads, where I figured the traffic would be lighter.
In this particular part of town, the streets were quickly filling up with water. I’d turn down one street only to find the water almost up to my car door. I’d turn around, making sure that my car didn’t stall, and head up another street, staying in the middle of the road where the water was lower. I’d go a few streets and hit another flooded area. I’ve driven on ice and snow and been afraid that I couldn’t stop. I had never experienced the sensation of the car floating, with water being past the top of my tires – it didn’t seem real. After the tires made contact with the pavement again, I got control of the car and tried another street. I began to pray, asking God for guidance and help to get home.
I was scared and felt silly at the same time. It was only rain, right? One time I pulled down a one-way street the wrong way and luckily no one was coming. It was flooded and I had to carefully turn around. I wasn’t sure if I was going to make it home. It took me an hour to make a 15-minute drive home and when I released my hands from the steering wheel, they were cramped because I had held the wheel so tight.
God answered my prayer to return home safely. Sometimes I feel like those types of short-term prayers are silly and unnecessary. If it’s God’s will that I return home safe, I will, right? Do my prayers make any difference?
They do for me. They remind me that I need to be as diligent and urgent in my long-term prayers for friends and family as I am in my short-term, “Abba! Father!” prayers that result from fear or pain or sadness. The short-term prayers are a solid reminder to me that prayer does work, whether it’s strengthening my faith in order to pray for long-term concerns or to help prepare me and others for what’s to come.