Saturday, November 28, 2009

God’s Kind Mercies, Christmas Tree Lights, and Autumn Grace

“Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin. Therefore, let us draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” Hebrews 4:14-16

A large handful of years back I wrote a testimony on prayer in my own life. Over these years I have printed it out now and then to encourage other women.. Every time I give it out, I reread it and----- I am encouraged again. :oD Silly, but true. I lived it ----I am still living it, but that precious reminder that my LORD listens to even our smallest, seemingly insignificant prayers is of great comfort to me.

“Therefore, humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you at the proper time, casting all your anxiety on Him, because He cares for you.” 1Peter 5:6-7

Recently I was encouraged to post it here, and so below you will find it. May you be lifted up and encouraged to trust the LORD even more.

God's kind mercies, Christmas tree lights, and Autumn Grace

So many years ago we were going through several hard trials all at the same time. My children were in public school with its many stresses. My teen daughter was dealing with much harassment, my husband's work had so many troubles; we were always in fervent prayer. At the time we were attending a mainline church. I am not a gregarious person, but the LORD drew me closer and I boldly started a prayer group there (almost unheard of at this church). We had almost ten people at first, but these women were not used to praying out loud in front of others or sharing prayer concerns, so it soon whittled down to three of us. This was fine for I knew the LORD was the one who would be honored and it was He who drew these certain women. We were blessed as a group and the LORD was glorified. I was the youngest; there was another who was ten years older and another who was twenty years older. We made quite the prayer group and became good friends. It was a special time.

As time went on, my own family's troubles only increased and we were really struggling. I was always in anguished prayer beseeching the LORD and waiting for His deliverance or help. Meanwhile in the prayer group the middle woman started to drive me to distraction. Here I was in such anguish and yet, she would pray for the “stupidest, silliest” things and then receive answers from the LORD! When I say “stupid and silly” this is at least how I viewed it at the time.

Her testimony was incredible. When they were first married and then subsequent years, they went through extremely hard times and yet the LORD always met their meager needs in the right time. She would always glorify the LORD. I had heard her testimony and I believed it, but now these 'petty' needs (as I saw them) were grating on me. How could she pray for such trivial things!? and why would the LORD answer her prayers when I was praying for such serious things! (and it did not seem to us that the LORD was answering any of ours.) I never let this friend know how I felt or what I thought. It was my attitude and view that the LORD was even then working on. What brought this to a head in me was the day she told us about her Christmas tree.

Her decorating was like Better Homes and Gardens. Everything was always perfect. She loved homemaking and it showed. She came that day and told us about her beautiful Christmas tree that had 2,583 lights on it (I do not really remember the correct number, only that it was an absurdly huge amount and she knew it exactly). She then said that ONE of them had burned out. She had become dismayed at how to figure out which one was the ONE that was burned out and so replace it. This job would be enormous. That morning she prayed and prayed that the LORD would show her which light was burned out so she would be able to fix it without much trouble. She then explained how she reached out and tried one---and it was the ONE! She went on to praise the LORD! and so we as her friends did this also, but in my heart I was angry at the LORD. How could He answer such a “stupid” request?! when it seemed to me that MY requests were very real and needy.

It has been years and another state now. I have often thought of this dear friend and even shared her testimony and this Christmas tree light instance when discussing prayers and faith with others. I surely have matured in my faith (a little!). Each of us is on our own walk with the LORD. My walk is not yours and vice-versa. I had realized that this certain friend had a very child like faith......she easily believed and easily trusted.....they had gone through some very rough times and the LORD had she KNEW the LORD heard her prayers, even little, silly ones......I had learned much from her, but I needed to learn more on my own, in my walk. The LORD is so kind.

It has been a big handful of years now that our grown family experienced something completely unthinkably tragic. Of everything that has occurred - of every thought, emotion, behavior, desire, response, moaning, supplication - in all of that in these years......there was something HUGE that happened.... It really means nothing to the bystander. It doesn't really matter in the whole scheme of things....but to was/is my own little “Christmas tree light.” It shook my world and I was drawn to the LORD in a sweet way that changed my life forever for Him.

My testimony now continues with a certain cat. At that time we had two adult cats, and before our tragedy began to unfold we had a third come to stay with us for a while. It was a calico. I have loved calicos since my first cat at age three. This new calico became precious to us as if one of our own.....but it was not ours and eventually was taken away. Now along with the beginning of our family tragedy we were also grieving the loss of this calico cat's companionship.

And so this is where my “stupid”, “petty”, “trivial”, “silly” prayer began..........with all the horrible things that were happening, with all the important things we prayed for, with all the extremely serious requests for deliverance..... ...privately deep inside of my heart I had a “Christmas light” that I was praying for......I cried out to the LORD for another calico kitten to replace the precious calico that we would never see again. This was a prayer that was only in my heart at first. Months of agony over our tragedy went by. Eventually I shared this calico kitten prayer with my husband and then a close friend who was very involved in ministering to us in our situation. Once in a while I would look into the paper for kittens but mostly I just trusted the LORD. I had told Him that I did not deserve another cat....after all, we had two already...but I knew He could have a calico come into our lives if He wanted. I knew I was asking for a “Christmas tree light“....and my faith was child like......He had brought me a long way from my arrogance concerning my friend's simple childlike prayers.

A year went by and there was never a calico that showed up at our door as I had imagined the LORD would do. One day we went out to do errands and next door to the copy store was a Vet with a sign: “KITTENS.” I KNEW this was the answer to my prayers! I pointed this sign out to my husband and so he had me check it out while he made copies. I walked over there with great expectation and joy! only to have the woman say they had no kittens. I turned around realizing that the LORD had answered my prayer with “No, you need to be happy with the two cats you already have” the time I came back into the copy store I had truly accepted this answer and was ready to move on even though I was greatly disappointed. I was not angry with the LORD....I was now easily trusting like a child. The LORD had done a huge work in my heart.

That very night we arrived home after 9pm. On the answering machine was a message from a friend who said that our mutual friend (the one who had been ministering to us from the beginning of our tragedy) had asked her months ago to watch for calico kittens because Jill wanted one. This friend told me on the answering machine that they had two calicos! from one litter and wondered if I was interested. The LORD in His great mercy had reached down and touched wasn't from the newspaper, or a vet, or a stranger, or at our front door......but this prayer was answered with two different compassionate friends who loved and cared for us! I was a broken vessel and He cared for me! He answered my 'petty', 'stupid', 'trivial', 'silly' prayer in the sweetest, kindest way. I had never felt so loved by Him until that day when He showed me that He cares about the TINIEST things in my life! My very own 'Christmas tree light' prayer had been answered! and I knew from then on that NO prayer is stupid or silly!

The next day I went to choose our new kitten. The children of this family were excited for me but concerned if I knew how to take care of their little kitten. When they saw I had purchased a cat box and kitten food just for this little baby, they felt they could trust me. They did not know how very special this creature was already and would be to us, how they were used of the LORD, nor what it represented to us.

It was October and this little ball of fluff was full of vibrant autumn colors. I said she was our little Christmas tree light but that just wasn't the right name for her. My husband suggested “Autumn” because of her colors and so she was named and started to bring us laughs and giggles with her kitten ways. Two days later it happened that we agonized and groaned over yet another phone call concerning our tragedy and then sat on the sofa crying with each other and beseeching God for mercy, mercy, mercy!! Soon enough this little calico was climbing all over both of us and back and forth......we started to laugh through our prayers and tears. The mercy that we had so often cried out for....the deliverance we had groaned for ..... well, it was not time for that. We must continue to wait on the LORD.....The LORD had from the start of this ordeal showered us with mercies every day and now with this little Christmas tree light! And so right then her name was changed to “Autumn Grace” for this is what the LORD had bestowed on us that week with this answered prayer......a prayer that could seem frivolous to many, but was so very important to my walk with the LORD. This little Autumn Grace continues to be used of the LORD to remind us even when darker days have now followed, that He has not forgotten nor forsaken us........May each of you trust in the LORD as a child.....and we will also!

Praises and Glory to the LORD God Almighty!