The Big Ask

Ollie Hospital

Today’s Readings: Deuteronomy 10, Psalm 94, Isaiah 38, Revelation 8

Good morning! I’m writing to you on this Monday with the McGriff party of 5 all under one roof! We thank you deeply for your prayers and acts of generosity as Ollie has struggled through this illness. I brought him home from the hospital on Wednesday night and we began a new chapter of our family life. We don’t have any clear answers about why he got so sick and we also don’t know if it’ll happen again. We’re living this messy uncertainty, trying to take joy in the now and put the future in God’s hands. I’ve spent hours making phone calls to cancel camps or activities that I had planned for him and then scramble to replace them with caregivers we can trust. With each time I share his story, there is a piece of me that is protesting. There is a little voice in my head shouting, “He shouldn’t be missing space camp to be at the hospital for tests under anesthesia!” This isn’t the plan we had for him, not the plan we had for us.

The last few weeks in my world it feels as if everyone around me is proceeding with life as it should be. People get married, buy houses, go to their jobs, have healthy children. They travel, they buy boats, they invest, they buy bigger houses. Is that true? Does that really happen for everyone? Have you ever felt while in the midst of a crisis, whether big or small that you are the only one for whom the world has stopped turning? Have you ever had that feeling of being trapped in your own frozen world of pain and sadness, completely unnoticed by others that are just going to work or heading out to dinner with friends? When those things happen we find ourselves yearning to go back to our normal life. The truth is, we’re not alone in those moments. As I often tell parents in my practice as a pediatric PT, we all get hit by the proverbial bus at one time or another. When I began studying today’s scripture, I was reminded that our biblical ancestors faced these same circumstances. In Isaiah 38, Hezekiah becomes terminally ill. The king of Judah and ancestor of David is just as vulnerable as you and I. His son Manasseh was only 12 years old when the prophet Isaiah comes to him and says it’s time to get his affairs in order. Hezekiah had dreamed of having an heir to continue his legacy, but now, all was seemingly lost. The scripture acknowledges his “bitterness” at his impending death. But still he turns to God and prays:

“Please, O Lord, remember how I have walked before you in faithfulness and with a whole heart, and have done what is good in your sight.” Isaiah 38:3

 Then the word of the Lord comes to Isaiah and tells him that Hezekiah will live 15 more years. What follows is a record of Hezekiah’s writing after he has recovered. A poem describing his fear and pain:

“…My eyes are weary with looking upward. O Lord, I am oppressed; be my pledge of safety! What shall I say? For he has spoken to me, and he himself has done it. I walk slowly all my years because of the bitterness of my soul. O Lord by these things men live, and in all these is the life of my spirit. Oh restore me to health and make me live!” Isaiah 38:14-16

 The notes in my NIV study bible for this passage today says this:

“When Isaiah went to Hezekiah, who was extremely ill, and told him of his impending death, Hezekiah immediately turned to God. God responded to his prayer, allowing Hezekiah to live another 15 years. In response to fervent prayer, God may change the course of our lives too. Never hesitate to ask God for radical changes if you will honor him with those changes.” NIV Life Application Study Bible

Wait. Do I ever just ask? Do I ever place enough trust and hope in my heavenly Father to get on my knees and fervently ask him to change my circumstances. I’m not sure I do. I spend lots of time trying to find the lesson in my trials, but I never just give it all up to Him and ask him to change it. I think this requires a few major commitments. First, I have to believe that my Father has the power to intervene in my life. Of course it’s easy to say that I do, that’s what Christians say, right? I need to actually go back and search my bible for that evidence that our God has this power. I need to revisit folks like Lazarus and reconnect with Mary the mother of Jesus and connect with her and the very real pain she endured while her child suffered on the cross. The second major commitment is placing all of my hope and trust in God the Father. This means consciously resisting temptation to put all of my hope and faith in worldly solutions.

The NIV study bible sends the reader back to 2 Chronicles 32:24-26 to read about what happens after Hezekiah is given his 15 extra years. The ESV tells it like this:

“In those days Hezekiah became sick and was at the point of death, and he prayed to the Lord, and he answered him and gave him a sign. But Hezekiah did not make return according to the benefit done to him, for his heart was proud. Therefore wrath came upon him and Judah and Jerusalem. But Hezekiah humbled himself for the pride of his heart, both he and the inhabitants of Jerusalem, so that the wrath of the Lord did not come upon them in the days of Hezekiah. 2 Chronicles 32: 24-26.

 Did you catch that? Hezekiah wasn’t perfect. He asked God to save his life and promised to be good…but then he broke his promise a little bit. He and his people got proud, they lost their humility and they didn’t follow through. Are you like me? When you first read this Hezekiah 15 more years story, did you get caught up in the part about old Heze saying that he had walked before God with faithfulness and a whole heart all the days of his life. I read that and thought to myself, hmmm well I’m not eligible for a “big ask” because I haven’t walked with Him with a whole heart all the days of my life. I thought, I’m not worthy of the big ask. But we ARE! We ALL are. And what would it look like if we all got on our knees today, and put our faith in God our Father and set our wordly hang ups aside and made Big Giant Asks? Would the town of Blo/No suddenly be blown up with big miracles? I think so. No, I know so. I’m going for it, and I hope you will too. Whatever it is, whatever giant bus circumstance that is running you over…pray about it. The last time I was in the road and a bus was headed my way, a friend shared this verse:

“Or which one of you, if his son asks him for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a serpent? If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him!” Mathew 7:9-11

I met Jesus that day for the first time.  Our Father knows how to give us good things.  Do we know how to ask?