Archives for posts with tag: prayer

It was an average, casual Monday. Staff meeting in the morning, drove my daughter to the airport to fly back to college, came home and did some youth ministry work. Cooked some glorious steaks on my brand new grill, watched some TV, brushed my teeth and headed to bed. And then it happened. For the third time in five days, an excruciating pain in my abdomen. A pain that previously lasted about two hours, went away and I would go back to sleep. But this was different. The pain didn’t let up and I found myself laying on the living room floor, texting my wife upstairs that it was time to head to the ER.

“Mr. Henning, your gallbladder has to come out.” Excuse me, “come out”? I had never had a surgery in my life! My nurse-wife and everyone else informed me it’s a common procedure. Yank it out, home usually the next day with some additional time of rest. Right. Not exactly how it went for me.

A long list of complications landed me 5 days in the hospital.

When home, I was talking to a close friend of mine about all of it and how strange it was to be totally out of control of everything. He asked, “And what did you learn from that?”

I knew he was prodding for some deep spiritual response, maybe some kind of epiphany I had in my downtime. My answer… “Nothing”. At that moment I was aggravated, annoyed and inconvenienced by this needless speed bump in my life. By doctor’s orders, I couldn’t go to the gym for 5 weeks. 5 WEEKS!!!!! No driving, no picking stuff up, no nothing! Not to mention, worst of all, I had a youth retreat I was leading, happening in one week! I do not have time for this!

But after the dust settled, I DID learn something. Something kind of cool.

While in the hospital, I prayed, but I never had a “Dear Jesus, please protect me, please watch me, please give the doctors wisdom, please… “, (anything else scared people about to have surgery pray for) moment. Might be unusual behaviour from a Pastor, but here’s my “epiphany” on it all. Mike, listen up, here it is.

I realized, with some excitement, the state of my faith, the level of our relationship, God and I. You see, through the whole process, my wife was by my side. I never had to beg her to stay with me, to help me, to look out for my best interest. Because of her love for me and her history of never leaving my side, I just… knew. I could be assured of her presence even if I didn’t request it.

It was the same for me and the Lord. I guess I didn’t feel the need to go into panic-prayer mode because I just knew. I knew He was just as present at the hospital as He is when I’m at home writing sermons. He was just as present when my organs were being ripped out as He is when I’m cleaning the garage. Whether I begged Him or not, because I was His child, He never turned his head from the situation at hand.

That’s a pretty good feeling. I think too many people, even heartfelt Christians, trade the truth of an omni-present God for an “emergency present” God. One who seems to respond more to hospital prayers than everyday cares.

Don’t misunderstand me. I’m not insinuating that those moments of panic-prayer aren’t normal or even necessary. Even the greatest heroes of Scripture rang God’s doorbell in their darkest and most frightening moments. Chances are I’ll have a few more of those in the future myself.

What I’m trying to say is it’s important to remember the depth of truth in Psalm 139:7 “Where can I go from Your Spirit? Or where can I flee from Your presence?” As crucial as prayer is in the life of a believer, We don’t always have to push the call button to be tended to. He’s already there.

Joshua 1:9 “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”

20140128-183324.jpg

If you haven’t read “Matt the Bird” part 1, do that first. I’ll wait.

Welcome back. Several months ago, I purchased a bug zapper for our back porch. We live on what some people call a “lake” and others call a giant retention pond. Either way, it’s a breeding ground for mosquitoes. I’m convinced that this body of water is a portal straight from Hell to unleash these demonic creatures to punish us. Florida ain’t all beaches and sunshine folks.

I set up the insect electric chair and read them their rights as each one that night paid the price for their crimes. It was amusing and captivating and I was proud of my leadership in protecting my family. However, what happened the next morning shook me… it shook me deep. On cue, in flies Matt! Only this time he didn’t land on my window. He landed right on top of the new zapper. I can only imagine his amazement as he stared at the pile of dead bugs like he had just found the bird version of Golden Corral. Think about it. Imagine walking into your favorite restaurant to find piles and piles of free steak, perfectly cooked for you!

As I marveled at his return, he suddenly began to shove his little beak into the light! I pounded on the window (true story) and yelled at him as if my own child had run into the street (slight embellishment). I didn’t know if it was dangerous or not but, the thought of what could happen to him devastated me. He flew away, seemingly unharmed and probably really, really satisfied. Immediately God reminded me of this truth found in 2 Corinthians 11:14 “… even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light.”

Our enemy is a master chef with the ability to wrap up the most damaging delights in tantalizing displays. He lays out a table spread worthy of a page in Home and Garden, lures us in and we fill our bellies on his chocolate-covered sin. What seems like a blessing leaves us doubled over, sick to our stomachs and vowing to never come back again. But he knows we’ll get hungry and weak, ready to fulfill our selfish desires and return to the table, ignoring the danger of our own gluttony.

Jesus said in Luke 11:35 “Make sure the light you think you have is not actually darkness.” How do we do this? I mean, we wouldn’t fall for it if we knew it would harm us… at least most of us wouldn’t. How do we know what lies underneath the luring beauty of what we can’t look away from? How? We pray. We seek God’s wisdom in our relationships, in job opportunities, in our selfishness and even in the small decisions that seem unimportant. We pray that God will reveal who the true “chef” is behind the plate set before us.

Matt the Bird may have to learn the hard way, but we don’t. The next time you get hungry, the next time you smell steak, ask to talk to the chef. Sometimes it’s worth asking for the recipe!

John 6:35 “Jesus replied, ‘I am the bread that gives life! No one who comes to me will ever be hungry.”

Earl Henning