Saturday, March 16, 2013

He’s Just A Prayer Away

Last night I watched the movie “Letters to God” which was inspired by a true story of an eight-year old boy with cancer.  In the movie Tyler Doherty's walk of faith takes the form of praying via letters he composes and mails.  Tyler’s letters find their way into the hands of Brady McDaniels, his temporary postman who’s dealing with his own personal issues. Brady is initially confused and conflicted over what to do with the letters, but eventually develops a friendship with the Doherty family.    

This was not a feel-good movie – it was an encouraging, uplifting story about the impact of praying to a loving God and the galvanizing effect it had on Tyler’s family, friends and community because of Tyler’s belief and strong faith.  To Tyler, God is a friend, a teacher, and the ultimate pen pal.  The movie showed that while God doesn’t always answer the way we want, He does what is best.  

This movie blessed my heart because I’ve been touched by cancer through deaths of loved ones and the long-term survival of others.  I’m well aware of how a cancer diagnosis brings fear and can devastate families.  My sister’s husband died from cancer.  My other sister’s brother-in-law and sister-in-law died from the effects of cancer.  My dad, my brother-in-law, my friend’s teenage grandson, and a childhood friend have completed or are in the midst of completing cancer-related treatments.  My paternal aunt, my sister’s sister-in-law, and my childhood Sunday School teacher are all long-term breast cancer survivors. I’ve attended the funerals of friends from church and my neighborhood who lost their cancer battles.  In my former job as a regional Human Resources Director, I and my staff assisted employees with cancer obtain their long-term disability benefits.  Several eventually succumbed from the effects of their illness.    

In numerous prayer journals over the years (my letters to God), I’ve written the names of those I mentioned above.  Like in the movie, God didn’t always respond the way I hoped.  Some lives He prolonged and others in His Sovereignty, He chose to end here.  We don’t always understand what He is doing (For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts Isaiah 55:9).  I know that He hears us whether we translate just our thoughts, speak out loud, write out our prayers, or allow the Holy Spirit to speak on our behalf.  So I say, thank You, Father, for giving us the privilege of bringing our burdens to you and for the eternal home that Jesus has prepared for those who confess Him as Lord.  Amen.

Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.”  Matthew 11:28

In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans   Romans 8:26

SPOILER ALERT Patrick Doherty, Tyler's real father, wrote "Letters to God" after his son lost his battle with cancer.  Doherty admits "Letters to God" was, at first, just a "cool title" for a movie. It wasn't until after the death of his son and a year-and-a-half after the screenplay was finished that he found Tyler's real letters to God.  For more information about the movie, access these links:

Friday, March 8, 2013

Why Am I Here?

Years ago I read Rick Warren’s book “Purpose Driven Life”, subtitled “What On Earth Am I Here For?” My pastor is conducting a bible study using this book, so I am re-reading it. In Chapter 3, Pastor Warren says “Living to create an earthly legacy is a short-sighted goal. A wiser use of time is to build an eternal legacy.” He reminds us that we “weren’t put on earth to be remembered.” We “were put on earth to prepare for eternity.” When I question why am I here, I have to acknowledge as Pastor Warren says, that one day I “will stand before God, and He will do an audit” of my life before I enter eternity. He says “God will ask two crucial questions: First, “What did you do with my Son, Jesus Christ?” and “Second, What did you do with what I gave you…all the gifts, talents, opportunities, energy, relationships, and resources?”

Yesterday, while reading my bible, I turned to 2 Corinthians 11:23-28 and read how Paul could answer these two questions. Paul said:

I have worked much harder, been in prison more frequently, been flogged more severely, and been exposed to death again and again. Five times I received from the Jews the forty lashes minus one.  Three times I was beaten with rods, once I was pelted with stones, three times I was shipwrecked, I spent a night and a day in the open sea, I have been constantly on the move. I have been in danger from rivers, in danger from bandits, in danger from my fellow Jews, in danger from Gentiles; in danger in the city, in danger in the country, in danger at sea; and in danger from false believers. I have labored and toiled and have often gone without sleep; I have known hunger and thirst and have often gone without food; I have been cold and naked.  Besides everything else, I face daily the pressure of my concern for all the churches. (NIV)

In contrast, I have never been in prison, flogged, beaten, pelted with stones, nor shipwrecked. I haven’t been “constantly on the move,” in danger from rivers, bandits, Jews and Gentiles in the city, country, and sea, gone without sleep and food on my Christian journey. No, this won’t be my testimony when I stand before the Lord.

My testimony is that through my relationships as a wife, daughter, mother, grandmother, sister, aunt, niece, cousin, friend, neighbor, church and community volunteer I use every opportunity through His gift of teaching (Romans 12:7, Ephs. 4:11) to witness about Jesus Christ to everyone I encounter -- whether in person, over the phone, through written communication (cards, e-mail, blogging, Facebook), when driving my car, in the grocery checkout line, etc.  With His gift of helps (I Cor. 12:28), my husband and I use our financial resources to assist those in need and support His ministry.  With the energy He’s given me, I visit those in hospitals and convalescent homes and attend funerals to provide comfort. My life has not been and is not perfect.  Through my challenging tests, though different from Paul’s, I have learned beyond a shadow of a doubt who I am – a child of the Most High God; to whom I belong – to the Almighty God of the universe; and most importantly, why I am here – to fulfill my eternal legacy of serving Him until the day He calls me home.
Do you know why are you here? If your answer is yes, what are you doing with Jesus Christ? Are you using what God has given you for the purposes for which God made you?