Thursday, May 8, 2008

God and McDonalds

Funny how God works sometimes. I had been working on a new blog off and on for the past week, a real doozy. Very cantankerous, surprisingly poignant and fairly inspired. I couldn’t wait to unleash it upon my readership of what, two dedicated fans (love ya Marty and Jennifer) and the occasional straggler…but God had other ideas. Besides, nothing I had to say would have been all that surprising to them anyhow :)

Early every Thursday morning, I meet at a local McDonalds with an accountability group that was born of my Emmaus Walk. It’s a great group of four men that come together to share in our spiritual journeys, victories, struggles, and so forth. This morning was no different than any other Thursday morning, until the very end.

We were winding things up with our closing prayer, when the ordinary became the extraordinary. We finished to find that a woman had been standing behind us, tears filling her eyes.

“Are you Christians?” She asked.

I think we all answered in unison and you could see her lips begin to quiver. She began to tell us of her grandbaby, Abram. Abram had been born prematurely on May 1 and had been in ICU just down the street ever since, his little body unable to maintain proper electrolyte levels.

“Would you please pray for him?” As she was asking this, overcome, she tried to turn away, to go back to her table.

Now, I want to pause here just briefly. As I type this, I’m not sure that I really have a point to make, perhaps it will reveal itself, perhaps not. So, for the time being it is just an observation. I’ve been asked for a lot of things in my life, we all likely have. Money, help, time, attention, and so on. And while all of those things are needs, sometime desperate, when they are requested, there is nothing at all like the heartfelt request for prayer. When someone is led to ask for prayer, especially of a stranger or strangers, some pretty amazing things happen. First and foremost, for that moment it’s as if God completely obliterates that veil that exists between two or more unknown people. My heart immediately went out to this woman, hurting for her as if she had been someone I had known and loved all my life.

Secondly, you truly understand the absolute power and value of something we are all guilty of discounting far too often, prayer. When this woman asked us to pray for her grandchild you could see it in her face, you could hear it in her voice, and you could feel it in her heart, there was nothing else in the world more valued or needed at that moment. Prayer. The simple, yet oh so powerful intercession of others on your behalf. Going to God, not alone, but with many, united in heart and in cause.

Thirdly, God truly does watch over us. How many of us go to McDonalds looking for a group of people to pray for you? No doubt, there was absolutely no coincidence to be had there this morning. God led her to the support and comfort she needed. It’s amazing how something so small can be used with such great power by God.

So, back to the story…As she turned away, somebody in our group said, “How about we do that right now?” We were quickly joined by the woman and the parents of Abram! Right there in the middle of McDonalds, we had a big prayer circle for this little child. Needless to say, it was an incredibly powerful experience and continues to be. Nary has there been a moment since, when a child I’ve never met, born of people I had never known, hasn’t been upon my heart and in my prayers.

And in the events this morning, I was convicted. For anyone who knows me, you know that I have been absolutely consumed with the admissions process I am currently undergoing at Asbury Theological Seminary. A worthy, Godly pursuit no doubt. You would also know that there are a handful of other issues that have taken up residence in my mind and heart of late, as well. Concerns about church, friends, family, the list goes on and on. We all have issues like this and they’re all big to us. They consume our minds, our hearts, and our attention. Sure, I’ve been praying, seeking God, and burying myself in the Word, yet we can sometimes miss the true essence of God and His work in the midst of all this other “stuff“.

Then God goes and puts it all in perspective. God was all over this morning. This morning was Christianity at its purest and most beautiful. It wasn’t about getting into a school. It wasn’t about building campaigns. It wasn’t about disagreements. It wasn’t about the direction or potential direction of a denomination. It wasn’t about some huge mountaintop experience. All of that was instantly stripped away with a simple question, “Would you please pray for him?"

Suddenly, life, faith, and our journey became crystal clear. It was quite simply about a group of believers being led together by God’s hand and recognizing each other as such. And in that recognition, it was all about God’s love and lifting up the life of a small child with one voice and one heart. Simple. Amazing. Powerful. Just as our faith and relationship with Christ should be.