We Are Thankful and He Hears Us

We know this because Jesus says so.

The 11th Chapter of John is amazing.  It brings us into a relationship, a real live relationship between four people who love each other deeply, who care for one another like family because they are family, who serve one another, who want the best for each other and who love each other like nobody’s business, because they’ll pour expensive perfume on your feet and they’ll serve you like you were a King and they’ll listen with rapt attention to your every word,  and they’ll trust you and laugh with you and cry with you and blame you, question you and want to hate you–but they love you nonetheless–and this is what family is.

But what I want to emphasize from this chapter is not just this physical, touchy relationship, it’s this relationship with the one who sent his Son, this Messiah and I want to bring this chapter back to the here and now with a story.  It’s a story about a boy named Paul who is 13 and he lives in Adacar, Uganda with lots of other amazing kids who don’t have one or both of their parents.  You think Paul would be very, very sad, but he really has quite the amazing, light-up-the-room kind of smile and the best part about him?  He is full of hope and thanks.  You see, way back in February of this year, Paul wrote this letter:

It’s a little hard to read, so I’ll just pick it out for you:
Dear My Sponsor:
How are you and your family…I thank you for sending me the gifts like a mosquito net and a mattress.  During my x-mas I ate meat and fish.  I went for prayers.  Once again I thank you for sponsoring me.
You, see, Paul didn’t know this yet, but he was writing this letter to me.  He was writing to a woman in Atlanta whose heart breaks for the children in this village and who woke up in the middle of the night sometime in May knowing that she needed to sponsor a little boy named Paul, consulted her list of children who still needed sponsors in Adacar and found that, yes indeed, there was a little boy named Paul and yes, after checking with Children’s Hopechest, he was still available (!) 
Isn’t God amazing and wonderful and awesome how he listens to us?  How do we know this?  Because of letters like this that come across distant waters, to foreign lands into the dreams of a woman here in the States who can no longer rest her head on her pillow without thinking of a boy in a tiny village who has a new foam mattress to rest his head upon.
We also know he hears us from this passage in John 11:41-42…So they took away the stone.  Then Jesus looked up and said, “Father, I thank you that you have heard me.  I know that you always hear me, but I said this for the benefit of the people standing here, that they may believe that you sent me.”
Paul’s a little bit like Jesus, he already knew that God was going to answer his prayers, because he was already was thanking me, his sponsor, who wouldn’t step on to the scene for thee more months, but he thanked God anyway.
Never, no, never give up my friends that your Heavenly Father is listening and is blessing you.  You thank him for that child, for that spouse, for the healing, for the restoration of that relationship.  You thank Him because he hears you and you thank Him because He is a good God.
I John 5: 14-15
This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us.  And if we know that he hears us–whatever we ask–we know that we have what we asked of him.
So, the dead are raised, the blind receive sight, the lame walk, the hungry are fed.  We ask and He hears us.

In His Presence is Fulness of Joy

This past weekend, 20 adults and 20 kids converged on a small island off the coast of South Carolina.  Friends and their husbands and their kiddos and lots of sand.  It was beautiful.

Stepping out onto the beach the other night with daughter and friend, your breath was all around me, warm, muggy, pressing in.  I couldn’t breathe it deeply enough at first and then I stopped concentrating.  You were as close as the salty particles worked into my pores and as real as the sand between my toes.  You were the wind that whipped the American flag on the pole that marked our path back as we walked hundreds of yards into the darkness.

You were in the din of conversations about health, having and raising babies and aging parents.

In babies fussing.

In kids making human sandwiches on the couch.

In giggles behind pillow forts below the counter.

In hands that prepared our evening meal.

In embraces exchanged, some after 13 years, others after a few minutes.

In the pitch dark as the men gathered conspiratorially in circles, and by day as their faces reddened with steam and heat over grills stacked with corn on the cob.

In the faces of moms and dads who may or may not have meant to fall asleep next to little ones at nap time.

As we met from all points of the globe: Nicaragua, Spain, Cali, New York…

You were there because you love us and are with us wherever we go.

Psalm 139: 7-10

Where can I go from your Spirit?
Where can I flee from your presence?
If I go up to the heavens, you are there;
if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.
If I rise on the wings of the dawn,
if I settle on the far side of the sea,
even there your hand will guide me,
your right hand will hold me fast.