I had an experience this weekend that was a true blessing, and I want to share it with you because it revealed to me another piece of what our true identities are in Christ.
My grandmother is battling cancer and is currently undergoing chemotherapy. She lives with my mother, who is a nurse and works 3rd shift on most Saturdays and Sundays. I have the amazing privilege of getting to share time with my grandmother when my mother works, spending the night at my mother’s house. My role is basically to help my grandmother if she needs it, which usually amounts to just getting her food and drink at the appropriate times.
I spend most of my time just watching television, sometimes by myself but often with my grandmother. I also often surf the internet, messing around on FaceBook, and on rare occasions, I do actual work. What I have found though is that the most cherished times I have are those when my grandmother and I just sit and talk. Not surprisingly, our conversations often turn to faith.
My grandmother has been a faithful follower of Christ for nearly her entire life. She’s 84 now, and she has always read her Bible nearly every day.
Saturday night, I was out in the living room, and she was in her bedroom when she called to me.
“Hey, Sean, come here. I want to ask you something.”
When I entered the room, she was sitting up on the edge of her bed, kind of breathing heavily. Her breathing is often labored, especially after a trek to the bathroom down the hall. She’s undergoing chemotherapy for lung and liver cancer, and she’s also experiencing the side-effects of quitting smoking after nearly 70 years of the habit, so this is no surprise. She has to consciously think about how she’s breathing, making sure she’s breathing through her nose and not her mouth, because the oxygen tube contraption supplies her oxygen through her nose.
Well, on this night, she had been trying to go to sleep and had been unable to do so. She was trying to articulate to me what she was experiencing but simply couldn’t find the words. I wasn’t really sure if there was something wrong with her, whether she was in some sort of pain or short of breath, or whether she was fearful or worried or anxious. I had no idea. She couldn’t find the right words to explain it to me.
We debated whether to call my mother at work, but I figured if I did all it would do would be to make her worry. I also had no idea what to tell her. I finally deduced that my grandmother was just so wrapped up in the thinking side of breathing that she couldn’t shut off her mind enough to go to sleep. It struck me as quite remarkable how we mostly healthy folk take breathing for granted. I suppose even that relatively simple and natural act is truly a blessing as well.
Anyway, as I lay there on the bed next to my grandmother, the Spirit spoke to my heart. He said, “Pray with her. Seek me for the peace only I can give her.”
In my nearly 40 years of life, I had never prayed with my grandmother alone, and aside from the occasional “grace” said before a holiday meal, I had never prayed with her at all.
So, I said, “Gram (that’s what we all call her), would you like to pray with me? We can ask God to help you go to sleep.”
Such a simple, humble request, really—to simply go to sleep, for a peace to settle over one’s mind—and, yet, I believe those are the things in life God desperately craves for us to seek Him for. It doesn’t always have to be the big things in life.
She gave me a firm, confident, “Yes.”
So, I grabbed her hand, she clutched mine back, and I prayed for her.
Wow, it was such a blessing for me to do it. I could feel the Spirit’s presence. I could feel God working and moving. And while praying for her, I felt blessed, truly blessed. It brings tears to my eyes as I type this now.
Afterwards, it hit me…she may be so consumed with just trying to heal, with simply trying to breathe, with just trying to find the appetite to eat, that she has stopped regularly talking to God. I don’t know if this is true or not, but in that thought, I realized that often, we as believers, may be the only voice of God one may get to see or hear. At least for my grandmother that night, I was.
And, I also realized that part of my identity is Christ is simply being His voice. A voice of peace, a voice of hope, a voice of comfort, a voice of encouragement.
Then last night, I asked my grandmother if she was still reading her Bible, and she told me she hadn’t read it at all since her diagnosis about two months ago. I suppose she just hasn’t felt up to it.
She said, “I look at my two Bibles over there on my shelf, and I want to get up and get them but I just don’t. I used to read them every day.”
So, I said, “I can read them to you, if you want.”
She again firmly and confidently said, “Yes.”
So, I read a few passages from various places, and then read two chapters from the book of Acts.
Again, it was an amazing experience. As much as she might have been blessed by it, I can only imagine I was blessed ten-fold. God worked through my grandmother’s need to bless me.
My friends, in Christ, sometimes you have to be His voice. It’s part of your identity.