How did you spend your National Day of Prayer?
Yesterday I mentioned that my plans included participating in a service with the staff here at Focus on the Family. We had a wonderfully moving and inspirational time together. Dan Woolley, a Colorado Springs resident and fellow ministry colleague with Compassion International, joined us.
Dan is a survivor of the Haitian earthquake. His story nearly takes my breath away. Dan shared his miraculous testimony of enduring 65 harrowing hours buried in the rubble of the Hotel Montana. “God used that time to lay siege to my heart,” he said, his voice halting, obviously riddled with emotion even many months later. Dan shared that throughout his nearly three-day ordeal, he asked some of life’s most important questions:
Is my heart right with God?
If I live, what is God’s purpose for me?
Have I ever asked God to really use me for His Kingdom?
Am I praying for my family, but knowing the Lord has them in His care, not mine?
Dan also spoke quite movingly about the opportunity he was given while trapped in an elevator shaft of the hotel to lead a fellow survivor to the Lord. As I listened and absorbed the remarkable and dramatic story, I couldn’t help but think that although few of us will ever be buried alive in an earthquake, nearly every one of us, in one way or another, will find ourselves trapped in all kinds of “elevators” throughout the course of life.
As an orphan, I felt trapped in a world clearly not of my making. Like Dan, there was nothing I could personally do as a young boy to escape from the chaotic confines of a dysfunctional childhood. For me, my “elevator” was a life without loving parents—or any parents at all. What did I do? I was left to pray for deliverance—and did I ever pray! Now, nearly 40 years removed from those sad years, I can finally see that the Lord was clearly in control.
I’d like to share one additional memory of this year’s National Day of Prayer. Just as the sun was breaking the eastern horizon casting its first warm rays on the summit of Pikes Peak, I was sitting at my desk in the basement. Troy, our 7-year-old, appeared at my side and asked to sit on my lap. Cuddling with my son is one of the greatest treats of fatherhood. I eagerly welcomed him up into my arms.
As he climbed up, I reached for a recent gift which sat on the edge of the desk called, “Dad’s Bible.” If you’re unfamiliar with it, it’s an excellent resource. I asked Troy to randomly select a passage to read together. Ironically, he opened to Matthew 21:28-32, also known as the “Parable of the Two Sons.”
“Hey, Dad!” he said. “You have two sons!”
“That’s right, Troy,” I responded. “Let’s look at this together.” We read:
“What do you think? A man had two sons; and he went to the first and said, `Son, go and work in the vineyard today.’ And he answered, `I will not’; but afterward he repented and went. And he went to the second and said the same; and he answered, `I go, sir,’ but did not go. Which of the two did the will of his father?”
They said, “The first.” Jesus said to them, “Truly, I say to you, the tax collectors and the harlots go into the kingdom of God before you. For John came to you in the way of righteousness, and you did not believe him, but the tax collectors and the harlots believed him; and even when you saw it, you did not afterward repent and believe him.”
Troy quickly understood that while both sons in the parable were imperfect, the moral of the lesson is that talk is cheap. Jesus is not impressed with our words . . . He wants to transform our hearts.
I’m humbled to look back across the day and see how, in His graciousness, the Lord used a wide range of people and moments to reveal Himself to me. In fact, I‘ll close with one more memory of the day. Earlier, a friend forwarded me a comment from a Facebook posting. Here is what they wrote:
“When asked for prayer requests, one dear brother responded, ‘. . . that I would hold conformity to the image of Christ as more valuable than my happiness and more desirable than my sins . . . for calm, good cheer, and patience in the midst of duress and frustration . . . that I would align my attitude with the facts: God is Sovereign, He is Good, and He is working every aspect of every circumstance together for His glory and my ultimate good.’”
Good thoughts for any day of the week, but especially on the National Day of Prayer.