Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Friends can be such a blessing!

   I received an email from a dear friend this morning that was encouraging, inspiring and for me ~ timely. This was one of those emails that implore you to send it on. I rarely do that, but this is most deserving of being shared. I believe this will truly lift you up.

“It shall come to pass
That before they call, I will answer;
And while they are still speaking, I will hear.
Isaiah 65:24

This is a story written by a doctor who worked in Africa .  

   One night I had worked hard to help a mother in the labor ward; but in spite of all we could do, she died, leaving us with a tiny, premature baby and a crying two-year-old daughter. We would have difficulty keeping the baby alive; as we had no incubator (we had no electricity to run an incubator).

   We also had no special feeding facilities. Although we lived on the equator, nights were often chilly with treacherous drafts. One student midwife went for the box we had for such babies and the cotton wool that the baby would be wrapped in.  

   Another went to stoke up the fire and fill a hot water bottle. She came back shortly in distress to tell me that in filling the bottle, it had burst (rubber perishes easily in tropical climates). 'And it is our last hot water bottle!' she exclaimed. As in the West, it is no good crying over spilled milk, so in  Central Africa  it might be considered no good crying over burst water bottles. They do not grow on trees, and there are no drugstores down forest pathways.

   'All right,' I said, 'put the baby as near the fire as you safely can, and sleep between the baby and the door to keep it free from drafts Your job is to keep the baby warm.'

   The following noon, as I did most days, I went to have prayers with any of the orphanage children who chose to gather with me. I gave the youngsters various suggestions of things to pray about and told them about the tiny baby. I explained our problem about keeping the baby warm enough, mentioning the hot water bottle, and that the baby could so easily die if it got chills. I also told them of the two-year-old sister, crying because her mother had died.

   During prayer time, one ten -year-old girl, Ruth, prayed with the usual blunt conciseness of our African children. 'Please, God,' she prayed, 'send us a hot water bottle today. It'll be no good tomorrow, God, as the baby will be dead, so please send it this afternoon.'
While I gasped inwardly at the audacity of the prayer, she added, 'And while You are about it, would You please send a dolly for the little girl so she'll know You really love her?'

   As often with children's prayers, I was put on the spot. Could I honestly say 'Amen?' I just did not believe that God could do this.

   Oh, yes, I know that He can do everything; the Bible says so. But there are limits, aren't there? The only way God could answer this particular prayer would be by sending me a parcel from the homeland. I had been in   Africa   for almost four years at that time, and I had never, ever, received a parcel from home. Anyway, if anyone did send me a parcel, who would put in a hot water bottle? I lived on the equator!

   Halfway through the afternoon, while I was teaching in the nurses' training school, a message was sent that there was a car at my front door. By the time I reached home, the car had gone, but there on the verandah was a large 22-pound parcel. I felt tears pricking my eyes. I could not open the parcel alone, so I sent for the orphanage children. Together we pulled off the string, carefully undoing each knot. We folded the paper, taking care not to tear it unduly. Excitement was mounting. Some thirty or forty pairs of eyes were focused on the large cardboard box. From the top, I lifted out brightly-colored, knitted jerseys. Eyes sparkled as I gave them out. Then there were the knitted bandages for the leprosy patients, and the children looked a little bored. Then came a box of mixed raisins and sultanas - that would make a batch of buns for the weekend.

   Then, as I put my hand in again, I felt the.....could it really be? I grasped it and pulled it out. Yes, a brand new, rubber hot water bottle. I cried. I had not asked God to send it; I had not truly believed that He could.

   Ruth was in the front row of the children. She rushed forward, crying out, 'If God has sent the bottle, He must have sent the dolly, too!' Rummaging down to the bottom of the box, she pulled out the small, beautifully-dressed dolly. Her eyes shone! She had never doubted! Looking up at me, she asked, 'Can I go over with you and give this dolly to that little girl, so she'll know that Jesus really loves her?' 'Of course,' I replied!

That parcel had been on the way for five whole months, packed up by my former Sunday school class, whose leader had heard and obeyed God's prompting to send a hot water bottle, even to the equator.
And one of the girls had put in a dolly for an African child - five months before, in answer to the believing prayer of a ten-year-old to bring it 'that afternoon.'

'Before they call, I will answer.' Isaiah 65:24 

   Prayer is one of the best free gifts we receive. There is no cost, but a lot of rewards. Let's continue praying for one another.

Heavenly Father, I ask you to bless my friends reading this. I ask You to minister to them. Where there is pain, help them to receive and walk in Your peace and mercy. Where there is self doubting, help them to walk in renewed confidence so You can work through them; where there is tiredness or exhaustion, I ask they seek and receive Your understanding, guidance, and strength. Where there is fear, reveal Your love in a way they can receive the vastness of it, and be of good courage. Thank you for blessing their finances, give them greater vision, and raise up leaders and friends to support and encourage them.  I ask You to do these things in Jesus' name. Amen.

P. S. Passing this on to anyone you consider a friend will bless you both. 
Passing this on to one not considered a friend is something Christ would do.
   As most of you know Jon and I are earnestly seeking God for a decision about our future. In the natural several really good opportunities have presented themselves. We stopped putting square pegs in round holes years ago. We learned that one the hard way, more than once. We had been praying for Him to lead us and show us where He wants us, and what He wants us to be doing.We have been pressing in, taking time in His Word and listening. We are now asking God to show us the desire He has placed in our heart. Recently we have been seeing things in His Word as we have never seen them before; things helpful for seeking God for His plan for your life. We have begun to have some break through there. Reading this email this morning reminded me of three things. 1. God heard our prayer in the beginning, remembers it, and hears our prayer now. 2. We do not need to pray for direction over and over. The answer was on the way when first we prayed Now we need to stay fine tuned to Him and walk closely with Him, simply thanking Him for His plan and that He is showing us. 3. We need to have the expectant faith this young girl had. Walking closely with Him and keeping our eyes and heart fixed on Him will empower us to effortlessly do just that.    

    This was the most timely email I have ever received.

I will close this with my response to the dear friend that sent this on to me.

Oh my darling, Gilly!!! if only you knew how timely this was, this very morning. I don't usually pass on email; this one I will. Thank you for sending this to me. I too want the intimate relationship with God this young girl had. I want to be as keen a vessel as that Sunday School teacher, hearing and obeying my Father. I desperately desire the innocence of trust in Him that pleases Him, unadulterated faith.

Much love,

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