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I’m ready, God, so ready, ready from head to toe! Ready to sing; ready to raise a tune: “Wake up, soul! Wake up, harp! Wake up, lute! Wake up, you sleepyhead sun!”

From Psalm 57:8, (The Message)

A few years ago, I was one of the administrators of the Facebook page for a prayer site SueBE, Lori and I wrote for at the time called Prayables. It was nice to connect with readers who enjoyed our prayers, and for a time, I found it a positive experience. But one day, some of our followers made awful comments about immigrants. One man thought it was terrible that “these types” were sneaking into “his country.” Where did such hatred come from? Is it so hard to get along with people just trying to make a better life for themselves?

I decided I didn’t need that negativity, so I left Facebook. But recently, I realized that some of my town’s important information is only disseminated on Facebook, so I got back on reluctantly, keeping all my settings on private.

Right away, I searched for prayers and was surprised to find my own prayers posted by a wonderful organization in Oklahoma that helps families in need called Skyline Urban Ministry. Oh! And there’s a prayer from Lori. And one from SueBE. Wow. It was nice to see this blast from the past.

The Bible passage above was posted by Skyline a couple of days ago. It was my birthday, and I needed that specific word from God on that particular day. My teen-age son has been battling extreme fatigue from a medical condition, so every morning, I struggle to wake up my “sleepyhead son.”

Ready to raise a tune? That’s right on target. Cole has a set-up in his room with a mixing board and headset, as well as a guitar and keyboard. He writes and records songs, and plans to have a career in music production.

It was as if a hand extended from Oklahoma to New Jersey, from kind people I’ve never met, but who somehow had a word of healing just for me. God always shows up right on time, but sometimes? He takes the scenic route.

I’ve got an iron-clad faith in God, to be sure, but my friends know that I’ve also got a lot of new-agey ideas and curious quirks.  I tend to see signs from God in almost everything.  I also believe that I’m supposed to learn from hardship, so I analyze everything that happens like a CSI investigator.

My theory is that I was scheduled to develop MS at 63, but due to the stresses of an awful job, it came on early, at age 36.  I had put the memory of that terrible workplace behind me, until a few months ago, when the cab brought me to the door of the Infusion Center where I’d be receiving treatment every month.

This can’t be right.  Can it?  I didn’t realize I had said this aloud.

The cab driver said, “Yes ma’am.  This is the address you gave me.”

I didn’t speak for a moment.

“Ma’am?  Are you all right?”

I nodded, but I wasn’t sure.

Even though I’m generally somewhat shy, I actually felt the need to pray out loud.

“Is this where you want me to go, Lord?”

The cab driver was unfazed.  He felt comfortable answering for the Maker of All Things, apparently.

“Do you need what they give you here, Miss?” he asked quietly.

The answer was obvious to me.

“Yes.  I really do.”

“Then that is your answer.” 

New Jersey may be the world center for Wise Cab Drivers.  He got a very nice tip, and I thanked him.  I felt comfortable saying “God bless you,” which I’m very cagey about saying to anyone.  It has, on occasion, offended a person or two, so I don’t offer it freely.

You see, this was the place where I had worked for fourteen years, and for the last few, it had been a nightmare.  It was where I first started to notice that the headaches never went away, and that my fingers were starting to go numb.  It was where a deep depression set in, and a constant state of anxiety took hold. It’s where everything in my life seemed to start to unravel.

But it was no longer the same place.  I tossed a coin in my mind and decided to see it differently now.  It was a place of healing.  It had been totally revamped and reconfigured, and the place that had been my office was now a large room where patients sat with their IVs, being tended to by the caring nurses.  There were pillows and reclining chairs, relaxing music and fresh coffee.  If you didn’t know better, you might even mistake it for a day-spa.

“I used to work here, kind of…” I said to the receptionist after she signed me in.  “Really?” she asked.  I said, “It used to be a different company, and I sat right over there by that window.”

“Weird!” she said, and looked over at the window.  “Does it look the same?”

It didn’t.  And I decided it would no longer feel the same.  I realized that God moved in mysterious ways, and maybe He was allowing me to achieve some kind of closure on that era of my life.  That place doesn’t even exist anymore, my child.  Those days are over, and all I have for you here is healing.

I sat back in my chair, feeling the cold liquid coursing through my veins, grateful for so many things: Cab Drivers with an Inordinate Amount of Life Experience; the medicine that would bring back the feeling in my feet and hands; open doors and second chances.  I thanked God that hearts and minds can be revamped and reconfigured, and that even after a deep, dark night, joy still comes in the morning.

Years ago, when my son was an infant, I’d put him on the couch in the living room, secure behind bundled up blankets and pillows. Humming, I’d go into the kitchen to do the dishes and start dinner, and, every so often, I’d turn around to look at him as I worked. He was always sleeping soundly.

Once, I looked over and I didn’t see my son – my dog had put herself right in front of him and stared at me balefully as if to say, “Hey Ma, I’m here too, y’know!” I’d go over and pat her head as I checked on my boy.

So even if I’m not always in the same room, and I may not be actively attending to my loved ones at any given moment, they are always on my mind and in my heart.  If I don’t seem to be “there” for them, at least they know, I’m “thereabouts.” I’m always thinking of them and am constantly concerned for their well-being.

Sometimes when things are not going as we’d expected, we question God.  I’ve been known to ask quite frankly in my New Jersey way, “Lord, I’m not asking, ‘Are you there?’ Oh, I know You’re there.  I’m asking, ‘Are you there for me?'”

If I look at my own little world, my son might well occasionally say the same thing of me.  After he comes home from school, he usually finds me in the sunroom working on my weekly copywriting gigs. “Grab a snack, honey, I’m busy,” I’ll say. It might seem like I’m not there for him.  But does he realize that a chill rolled in last night and I got up at 2 AM to put an extra blanket on him as he slept?

Does God work the same way?  Hmm.

Last week my neighbor cleared my driveway of a heavy snowfall before I even woke up. I offered to pay him, but he waved away my money, hoisted the snow blower and went across the street to clear another neighbor’s driveway.

A month or so ago, I left my wallet at a restaurant.  When I went back in a panic, the server was standing by the door waiting for me, both hands clutching my wallet protectively.  He looked as worried as I did!

I think the slow drip of doubt that I let corrode my relationship with God tends to rust over the things that He does for me through other people, and the things He does through me for other people. I’ve focused so specifically on what God hasn’t done for me lately that I almost need an interpreter to remind me that He works in mysterious ways, but make no mistake:  He works.

Faith works.

Just because we want everything to be perfect – and it isn’t – that doesn’t negate the good things that are always happening.  Somewhere.  And if something good isn’t happening to you at that moment, it doesn’t stop you from doing good for somebody else.

This dovetails with what Lori asked us to do this week:  forgive someone. When you forgive, you extend healing and hospitality where there was once only pain.  It also takes a weight off of your own soul and leaves that space open for genuine joy.

Doing a favor for someone else is a nice deposit in the bank of goodwill. Maybe we’re designed to do what we can do and leave the rest up to Him.  But if we wait for Him to do it all, He’s not the one who isn’t “there” – we are.  Maybe after all our praying and waiting, God shows up when we do.


Have a Mary Little Christmas

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