I stared at the TV and fought back tears while watching an interview with American missionaries Gracia and Martin Burnham, who were haggard, filthy and appeared to be disoriented.
So many times the same frustrating thing happens when I try to pray. “Heavenly Father,“ I say, but almost immediately I get interrupted by my own thoughts.
My seven-month-old nephew Canaan was dying and nobody knew it, including his doctor, who had misdiagnosed his digestive issues. The real issue was Hirschsprung’s disease, one of the leading causes of death for kids like Canaan, who has Down Syndrome.
“Gross.” That’s typically not the word I think of when contemplating a miracle Jesus performed, but there’s one exception.
Ten years ago this month, I started the day by getting on my face before God and saying, “Lord, I’m getting down on the floor because if I get up, I’m afraid I’ll do something stupid.” I had good reason to be concerned.
I stared at the TV and fought back tears while watching a CBS news interview with American missionaries Gracia and Martin Burnham, who were haggard, filthy, and appeared to be disoriented. The couple, who were missionaries in the Philippines, decided to spend one night at a resort to celebrate their 18th wedding anniversary. But that night they were kidnapped by terrorists, and a year later, they were being dragged through the Philippine jungle. One of their fellow hostages had been beheaded.
One time I was at the bus stop and I saw a woman take her daughter by the ponytail, pull up, and force her to move down the sidewalk. As the girl walked forward, she tried to reach up and pull her mother’s hand away, to no avail. As the little girl cried and begged her mother to stop, a man standing nearby laughed about it, and the mother began laughing, too.
I was five years old when I walked into my mother’s bedroom and told her I wanted to give my life to Christ. We got down on our knees beside the bed and I asked Jesus into my heart. After that, I proudly told everyone that Jesus had saved me, but my pride slowly diminished over the years.
Seven years ago, I was having a conversation at a birthday party when I suddenly felt like I was in a dream. My voice felt far off, the room looked two-dimensional, and I couldn’t get my eyes to focus. Fifteen seconds later it stopped, but that episode was only the beginning. I started having a variety of other bizarre experiences. Sometimes it seemed like I was watching a scratched DVD — other times I would lose my words mid-sentence or forget how to type.
Nine years ago, I asked God to give me something a lot of people would think was ridiculous: a parking spot. It wasn’t just any parking spot though.
Last year, God finally answered yes to my years-long prayer request for the “Big Thing.” It doesn’t really matter what the Big Thing was. Maybe it was healing, a financial breakthrough, a reconciled relationship, a job or some other change in circumstance. Whatever it was, my waiting experience was like that of so many other people: a constant fight with the lingering fear that God was punishing me for wanting it too badly.
I was a sophomore in college when I began receiving a series of harassing emails from an unidentified person. Each one was loaded with expletives and insults that cut into my stomach like rusty razors, leaving me with a cold, sick feeling. The worst part was that it was clear that I somehow knew the person, who I assumed was male based on the tone of the emails.
In 2009, I was at a friend’s birthday party when my vision suddenly became distorted. I could hear and see everyone, but it felt like I was in a dream. About 15 seconds later, I came out of it. I walked over to my friend, who’s a doctor, and tried to describe what happened. “Maybe you’ve got superpowers,” he said, and we both chuckled. Soon thereafter, I stopped chuckling.
This morning, I was driving my six-year-old daughter to school, and she said, “Daddy, what are we going to talk about?” As morbid as it may seem, I decided to talk to her about what to do if she’s in a situation where someone is shooting a gun in her school. She wanted to know what kind of person would do that, and I told her that it’s the kind of person whose heart is full of Satan.
The other night, I was putting my daughters down to bed, and my oldest girl said, “Daddy, can you stay in here for a few minutes?” “It’s getting late,” I said, “and you need to go to sleep.” “Daddy,” she said, looking like she was going to cry, “I missed you all day at school, but I didn’t realize it until now.”