It’s been a good day here in Eastern Kentucky. We worked hard repairing the bathroom floor, tub, and toilet for a gentleman. During the work and at breaks we learned his story. And we came together as a team, teaching and learning woodworking and plumbing skills and getting to know each other.
I have to admit that my mind often wandered as I worked today. I don’t think it kept me from working safely but, unfortunately, I did make a couple saw cuts in error. No, my mind wasn’t always on my work; rather, it drifted to those two new, less than a week old, grandsons whom I have yet to see. So, this post isn’t about our mission work – more will come on that later. This post is kind of a Paul Harvey “Rest of the Story” kind of story about a lesson I learned.
On Sunday I posted in Miracles that my daughter, Lisa, gave birth to her second son on Thursday of last week, two weeks early. On Wednesday morning she went in for an ultrasound and the doctor, after seeing something that didn’t look quite right, recommended inducing labor and delivering the baby as soon as possible. The situation was not life threatening to either mother or baby but it was best to introduce baby Edward to the harsh reality of life outside the womb. I claim I didn’t get the message that it wasn’t a serious issue. My wife says otherwise. But, let’s not go there.
Wednesday afternoon I left on an overnight trip to southern Indiana for business, about a four hour drive. I had a lot of time to worry about Lisa and the baby and all that could go wrong. Memories from a year and a half ago came streaming back to me of how her first son, Jack, had complications after birth and we thought we might lose him. I remembered how I prayed to Jesus with everything I had for Jack’s health. And, I remembered how, after a series of God-moments (see Put Your Faith Where Your Prayer Is) including praying the rosary and asking for the Blessed Virgin Mary’s intercession to Jesus, I was suddenly overcome with joy like I had never known, joy that instantaneously brought me a peace that broke me down to crying tears of Thanksgiving. I felt Jesus assure me that Jack would be just fine.
I wanted that same feeling last Wednesday. I wanted it so bad that I prayed continuously as I drove. I prayed two rosaries and I prayed, “Jesus, I trust in You” until my throat was dry. But, the more I prayed, the more I became discouraged. Nothing was happening. It wasn’t working. I felt ashamed of my inadequate faith.
Desperately wondering what to do next I decided I needed prayer support, someone who would and could pray for us. I remembered that day 18 months ago as I was driving from Cincinnati to Kansas City to see Lisa and young Jack. I remembered receiving a phone call on that drive from a good friend, a mother with four children of her own, and one of the best prayer warriors I know. I remembered how her words brought me such comfort which, I believe, eventually brought me to placing my full trust in Jesus.
I called her and I reached her on the second try. I explained my predicament and my worries. I confessed that even though I was repeating, “Jesus, I trust in You” over and over, I really wasn’t feeling very trustful. Once again her words helped calm me as she reminded me to simply trust in His will; that my daughter and baby are in His loving hands; to accept His Grace; and that He will not give us anything we can’t handle. She said she would pray for me, Lisa and her baby.
A few miles further down the road I received a message from my friend that she, her husband (also a very close friend) and their four children had just prayed, as a family, a decade of a rosary for us. She told me that she found her prayer very peaceful, that she had a calming peace thinking of me driving and praying the rosary. She reminded me again to lean on and have faith in the Blessed Virgin’s intercessory prayers to Jesus, and that she knew Mother Mary was holding Lisa’s hand. When I arrived at my hotel, I messaged her back thanking her and her family for all their prayers. While I had not yet had that moment of divine revelation that everything was going to be okay, I at least felt better. I was mentally exhausted and, going to bed, I immediately fell asleep.
That was the best night’s sleep I’d had in quite some time. When I awoke on Thursday morning I did something I’d never done before. I don’t know where it came from but I uttered, “God is with me. How can it be anything but a beautiful day?” As I was clearing the fog from my mind I realized I knew Lisa and baby would be just fine.
A short while later I talked to my wife. It was at this time I heard her explain that the complications with Lisa’s pregnancy were nothing to get excited or worried about.
Then, I had another revelation. I realized that my fear had been keeping me from accepting God’s Grace. I thought, “He’s probably been intent on getting His Grace to me one way or the other. If I wasn’t going to accept it directly, He would have to get it to me indirectly. So, He brought my friend to mind knowing I would trust her, that through her she would help me hear Him.”
Now it all became clear: It wasn’t Lisa or her baby who needed help. It was me.
That’s God working through the power of Christian Community.
“Lord Jesus, thank You for Your love and for continuing to shower me with Your Grace. Thank you for blessing me with friends who love me and care for my spiritual welfare and pray for me to grow closer to You. Help me to get past my fear so that I may fully trust in You. Amen.”
(Indirect Grace was first published on the blog Reflections of a Lay Catholic)
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