Mondale, as my car has affectionately been named by Sherry, experienced his first accident last night. No major damage occurred when I clipped a deer on the way to church, but my hood is dented a bit and it seems the passenger-side headlight is no longer oriented properly.
Speeding along the country road, I saw the headlights of an on-coming car flicker a bit. It took me a second, but I soon realized some deer crossing the road were the cause. But they were a ways ahead, so it wasn’t a big deal. The road seemingly clear, I turned my attention to the field the deer entered. There were six of them.
And I hit the seventh. S/he was a straggler. Clipped its hind quarters with the right side of my car at about 45 mph. No idea what happened to the deer. I pulled my car over a few houses down to access the damage. Could have been far worse.
But I wasn’t in the mood to be distracted. I had a mission to accomplish that night. Scott and I were scheduled to visit Shaun Page following church and pray for God’s healing of his leukemia.
It was a mission that had been hanging over me for quite a while. Ever since I heard the devastating news in mid-December, I’ve had a heart to pray for him. But I’d felt completely… incapable of summoning the faith to pray for such miraculous healing. I certainly prayed for him on my own and with our small group and at church. But to arrange a visit to lay hands on him that he might be healed? It wasn’t hard for me to lean on the excuse that the “elders” should take care of that.
Things changed one Wednesday when we were praying for Shaun at church. After finishing, Pastor Scott asked a pretty general question: “Is anyone planning on going to visit Shaun?” I answered with an honest “Yes.” I was planning to go with Dan and see him some time. Scott then had me come to the front of the church and he anointed my hands for healing.
Certainly a first for me.
That wasn’t exactly what I expected to happen when I said I was going to visit Shaun. But apparently Scott felt God prompting him that direction and he was obedient.
And I was going to be as well. The other Scott, my best friend, said he felt he was supposed to go with me and I was certainly not opposed. But he was scheduled to fly to Florida the next evening. So, prayer for Shaun would have to wait until he returned.
The challenge I wrestled with next was how to initiate the prayer time. I certainly didn’t feel I should up and say: “Hey, my hands have been anointed for healing by my pastor. Let me pray for you.” Felt a bit too contrived.
Before Scott returned from Florida, another member of our church, Mike, was having a conversation with Dan, Shaun’s older brother who I know very well. In that conversation, Mike and Dan got talking about Shaun’s situation decided they wanted to get together and pray. Mike suggested and Dan agreed that I should come as well–though neither were aware that I had be commissioned to pray for Shaun. Mike had been on vacation during that church service and Dan doesn’t attend.
So, there was my in. No awkwardness necessary.
Then the pressure started building. I think I’d rather pray for someone on the spot than have a date and time set. Just too much opportunity to over-think things, which I did a bit. Wednesday rolls around and I’m a bit anxious about everything… thinking about what I’m going to pray and how I’m going to interact with his parents, who I don’t know,… all that stuff. And then one of my wisdom tooth abscesses starts to ache a bit and I start questioning my own healing. Was I developing dry socket… after how smooth everything has gone up to this point?
And then I hit the deer on the way to church. It reminded me of a really, really low-key version of a classic scene in Fellowship of the Ring. Gandalf stands up the Balrog as it tries to attack the Fellowship and though it didn’t destroy them, it lashed out at the last second and pulled Gandalf down into the pit with him. That deer could quite well have been a last second lash-out following a failed attack. Think how derailed I could have been from the mission if I had smacked any one of those seven deer head on.
Even now attacks continue as my throat is getting scratchy. It should no surprise that as we try to summon and stand in new levels of faith that at these very times our faith is challenged.
The prayer time went well. Scott and I arrived a bit past 9 p.m. and joined Shaun’s family in watching the MSU / UM basketball game. His older brother Dave flipped to the Piston’s game during commercials. I brought Shaun some pictures I had taken of him golfing and a letter of encouragement another member of our church wrote for him.
And then we prayed. Quite simply, we prayed that God’s healing would manifest in his life. We stood on scripture and thanked the Lord for his faithfulness. We cursed the evil that was ravaging his body in the name of Jesus.
Today he has another check up in Ann Arbor. His mother posted on his Care Page that “after having prayer over Shaun recently we are hoping that the doctors are amazed and find no leukemia in his system. We know God is a miracle working God. If any of you want to join me in fasting and prayer tomorrow until about 4:00, that the doctors will find Shaun cancer free, we would appreciate it.”
It seems if nothing else happened that night, Shaun and his family’s faith was encouraged. They’re pushing in and petitioning God for healing again. Not that they had stopped… but it’s easy to grow weary of asking. That’s what the body is for: to carry each other’s burdens… when weariness sets it, for someone else to take up the battle and keep fighting. And I was honored to be used in this way.
We are praying and fasting that the oppression would break and healing would flow. That’s what He asks us to do: to ask and keep asking, seek and keep seeking, knock and keep knocking.
“…for this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that He might destroy the works of the devil.” — 1 John 3:8b