The Bounce-Back Prayer
Well, we just returned to the ship from a day in Paris. We set out from Le Harve on the Normandy Coast this morning for the three hour drive to Paris; where we took a tour of the city, seeing the major sights, and then had lunch on a Seine River Cruise. We finished the afternoon doing a little shipping in one of the large department stores before heading back to the ship – arriving around 8 pm this evening. We saw a protest and strike in the middle of one of the roundabouts, with loud fireworks; and graffiti being painted on the pavement that tied up traffic more than you can believe.
But the visit brought back memories of when I was here the last time, at the age of 17, back in 1970, and I was tear gassed while I was in one of the street side “toilets”, as they say in Paris. So I guess I shouldn’t sweat the graffiti and the fireworks – but more about that another time. Suffice it to say that I am two for two on some sort of violence occurring during my lifetime trips to Paris.
Because the real story of the cruise so far happened yesterday at the Victoria Coach Terminal in London as we were waiting to board the private coach for transport to the Crown Princess, docked in Southampton, approximately 2 hours from London. Janet and I took a taxi from the London Marriott Grosvenor Square to the Victoria Coach Terminal and after checking in, found places to sit while we waited to depart an hour later for the ship. There was one seat open next to me and a gentleman with a neck brace came and sat down. Of course, with Janet still in her splint on her left hand, injuries became a quick topic of conversation.
The gentleman, Jeff L., of St. Louis, shared that on May 9th he had neck and upper back surgery to fuse EIGHT parts of his spine together. That’s right – 8 fusions. I don’t think I ever heard of that before. In fact, he had to wear the brace 2 weeks before surgery because he was in so much pain. Anyway, I asked what had happened. He shared that the fusions were necessary due to deterioration of his bones as a result of 100 radiation treatments from the Lymphoma cancer he had years ago. And that was so severe because he spent a year at Walter Reed Hospital and was mis-diagnosed, so the cancer spread wildly before it was finally caught and treatments started. The thing I admired was the fact that Jeff had no bitterness or remorse about his mis-diagnosis or subsequent medical problems as a result of the radiation treatments – all 100 of them!
Jeff openly shared with me that he was a Christian and the only thing that had pulled him through all the trouble was his faith in God. He said that long ago he had told God that he was claiming God’s promise to stay by his side, and that he would endure anything, and accept any outcome, because of his faith in Christ. It was an incredibly powerful witness – right there in the bus station. I went on to tell Jeff about my best boyhood friend, Bob Thompson, who also had Lymphoma (non-Hodgkins) and that Bob had endured some pretty heavy medical treatments himself. In fact, Bob had his spleen and appendix removed as part of the treatment, and a lead shield covered as much of his heart as possible to shrink the mass there as well. His tumor went away, but he had a permanent heart murmur as a reminder of the fight with cancer.
That’s when Jeff shared that he also had his spleen removed; and the damage to his heart was so bad, he suffered a heart attack and barely lived. Then he had his aortic valve replaced and now has an animal valve in its place. That was before he told me about both hips deteriorating as a result of the radiation and he now has had two hip replacements as well. I could hardly stand this guys’s story – it kept getting worse! But there he was smiling ear to ear….
And then he told me about his sister being diagnosed with cancer, and his anger with God over his sister’s condition. Jeff couldn’t understand why God didn’t answer his prayers for her when Jeff himself had been spared. Finally, Jeff’s sister died – and he was crushed by the news. For more than 18 months, Jeff said that his prayers “bounced back from God”, and that he finally was unable to pray at all. Eighteen months he tried, and failed, to re-connect with the Father. Then, one day, the answer came to him.
Jeff recognized that during his sister’s illness he had been praying out of his fear of losing her, his need for himself, and not for God’s will for her life. She was not afraid and was willing to accept whatever God handed her – but Jeff had struggled and fought God every step of the way. He had forgotten his commitment to accept whatever the Lord handed him. The next day, he apologized to God, admittedly his humanity – and his anger vanished. The prayer pipeline to God was re-eatablished and since that time, Jeff has reconnected with his best friend – the Lord Himself. You can actually hear the love of the Lord in his voice.
So Jeff’s medical journey continues with complete peace and the Lord at his side every step of the way – communicating every day. Is this one of the greatest stories of being restored to God you have ever heard? And all because Jeff remembered John 14:13, “And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Son may bring glory to the Father. You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it.” So there you have it – our wills being consistent with the will of God will yield answered prayers.
My encouragement tonight is that you should walk with the Lord and understand that it is important to yield to God. Because, like Jeff said, it is unthinkable to contemplate going through eternity without the Lord at our sides. And my prayer is that your prayers will seek the will of God for your life; and the lives of your loved ones. None of us wants to experience “bounce-back” prayers. But my life was made richer, and I was blessed, by sitting next to Jeff at the coach station. You just never know when or where God may bless your day – as He did mine. Grace and peace…..