Tag Archives: God’s mercy

Jesus has no hands but ours.

prayingYou’ve probably heard the old joke about a man who found himself stranded on his roof during a flood. Some neighbors come by in a canoe and try to help him but the man remains on the roof. “I prayed to God and he will save me,” the man insists. As the water continues to rise, a rescue boat approaches. Again the man declines assistance. Instead he states firmly that God will save him. Just before the waters reach the top of his roof, a helicopter appears. Once again the man refuses to be rescued. At last he is overcome by the flood waters and drowns. In heaven, he asks God, “I prayed so fervently, and believed that you would keep me safe. Why did you let me drown?”  God’s reply, “I sent you a canoe, a rescue boat and a helicopter. Each time you refused my help.”

Obviously, the man failed to recognize God’s mercy offered through the hands of others.  Of course a rational person would eagerly accept any help that was offered in an emergency such as a flood. But how often do we pray and pray to God when we are faced with a difficult situation and then refuse help from friends and neighbors. No one wants to be a burden, but by accepting help from others, we are allowing them to carry out God’s will.

So many times, we are called upon to pray for the needs of others and of course we do so willingly knowing that God answers prayer. We are told in the Matthew 18:19, “Again I say to you, that if two of you agree on earth about anything that they may ask, it shall be done for them by My Father who is in heaven.” Clearly, the power of prayer is amplified by the number of people praying. As well, the power is amplified in the mind of the person being prayed for. There is great solace in knowing that others are praying for us.

That God answers prayer is something every Christian knows from first-hand experience. We all have in our memories circumstances when the Holy Spirit was so obviously present at a time of great need. But we must be open to the call of the Holy Spirit in our lives if we are to be the instruments through which prayers are answered. If, as happened last week, my neighbor who is ill asks me to go to the store for her, it is obvious what I am being called upon to do. But sometimes our role is less obvious and even unknown to us. It might be in the form of a smile or kind word to a stranger who is having difficulties. We may never know the effect we have on situations we are unwittingly a party to, but God knows and so do those who receive our help.

Growing up, I had the perfect example of Christian charity in my grandmother. She was always willing to help anyone in need. She cared for my grandfather who was in a wheelchair as far back as I remember. Even with that responsibility, she would come to the aid of sick neighbors or anyone who needed her help. At my grandmother’s funeral, my aunt Billie told this story that illustrates my grandmother’s kindness to others. Aunt Billie had a blinding headache. She called my grandmother, her mother-in-law, and told her how badly her head hurt. “Could you go to the store and get me some aspirin?” Billie asked.

“Oh, you poor thing!” my grandmother said. “Of course I’ll get you some aspirin. I’ll do it right away. Who is this?”

We never know when we will be called upon to be the hands and feet of Jesus. We must be open to the needs of others and bold in our willingness to do as we are asked to do.

 

I Write the Stories–Jesus Adds the Message.

IMG_0792 (2)I have put off writing about this subject, partly because it’s personal, but mostly because some readers might think I’m weird–okay weirder than they thought.

When I first envisioned the Handy Helpers books–before I even knew what they would be called–I never considered including a Christian element, at least not to the extent that I eventually did. In A Rocky Start, the Snyders are a Christian family that has dinner together, plays board games on Friday nights and walks to church every Sunday. That could have been enough, but it wasn’t.  I needed a Sunday school lesson, so I looked on the internet for some fourth-grade Sunday school topics.  I randomly selected the story of the prodigal son. After hearing about it in Sunday school, Amber relates the story to her parents and they discuss its meaning. That could have been enough, but it wasn’t.  Near the end of the book, Amber is feeling very guilty about some things she’s done. She tells her dad, “I’m like the son in the Bible who wasted his inheritance. I’ve wasted my chance to help seniors.” Her father uses the story of the prodigal son to show Amber how she has already been forgiven. All she needs to do is forgive herself. He goes on to explain to her about God’s mercy. Had I chosen a different Sunday school lesson, the book might have ended in a similar way. I believe I was directed to choose that Sunday school lesson so that the message of God’s love and mercy could be the primary message of the book.

As I planned the second book, Seven is a Perfect Number, I knew it would include an explanation of why seven is God’s perfect number. But there were lots of surprises in store for me as I wrote that book. One surprise was The Servant Song that Beth Anne and her grandmother sing on the way to Phoenix. We sang that song once in church and I thought it was a very nice song. I wondered if there was some way that I could use it in the book. Every week at mass, I would turn to that song in the hymnal and read the words. More and more I began to feel like it needed to be part of the book. Words from the song appear in the book four times and it is crucial to the story. Beth Anne sings it to Mrs. Henry when she is trying to cheer her up. Later, when Beth Anne is alone in the dark on a hillside, she imagines Mrs. Henry singing it to her. Finally, when Mrs. Henry is sitting with Beth Anne in the hospital, she sings the song and Beth Anne wakes up to hear it.

As I said, we sang The Servant Song once at mass. We did sing it a second time a few months after Seven is a Perfect Number was published. I was feeling  discouraged and disappointed that my books weren’t selling as well as I had hoped. In my morning devotions, I talked to God about it, feeling that maybe this wasn’t what I was being called to do. I asked for a sign, some way that I would know that I should continue with the Handy Helpers project. We were in the middle of mass and I needed to go to the restroom. I decided to go during the offertory. Just as I stood to leave, the choir began to sing–The Servant Song. Immediately, I sat down and joined in the singing. I had my sign.”