He remembered us in our weakness. His love endures forever. And freed us from our enemies. His love endures forever. Psalm 136:23-24
The phone rang at 2:15 a.m. Surprisingly I awoke with ease and answered it, fully coherent. It was Sam. He lives on the west coast therefore it is 3 hours earlier in his time zone. He asked, “What are you doing, besides sleeping?” I laughed and despite the time and disturbance of sleep I was happy to hear his voice. It had been awhile. Our last conversation was not good, I was concerned for him but previous to that conversation which was over 2 years ago, he was well. Sam and I go way back. We both would tell you that God brought us together at the “perfect time.” We met in Arizona at a triathlon training camp. His marriage had just ended and he was disillusioned with God, expecting reconciliation but dealing with defeat. At the same time, James and I were just restored and I had much hope to offer. Sam and I continued this friendship by phone before and after the death of James. We would pray together often late at night and God used him to lift me when I was down and in return I was to encourage him when God gave me the strength. We both prayed consistently for the blessing of a spouse. We were true brother and sister in Christ, in unity with the Holy Spirit.
How good and pleasant is it when brothers love together in unity. Psalm 133:1
We knew God would not forget us and would give us both someone to love and share our relationship with God in this life. God answered Sam’s prayer first with his new wife Lisa. After 8 years of praying, God gave him the fulfillment of His promise in Lisa. Now married with 5 children (3 hers and 2 his from previous marriages) life was different for him and I faded into the past knowing my purpose to support him in his single life was complete.
So why would he be calling at two o’clock in the morning? I wondered. I listened as he described the events of the past few days. I heard him say in that three-hour conversation that he couldn’t find God. He described it as if there was a barrier; he was numb and couldn’t get past the head knowledge of God and His Word. He was crying out for a touch from Jesus. My heart ached for him because I couldn’t imagine not being able to “touch” my Savior. Since I gave Him my life in 1997, He has always been so real to me, especially since the death of my husband. I long for the moments when I can just sit and talk to Him, to feel His presence, to read His Word and hear Him speak. Sam didn’t have this. What do I tell him Lord? How can he get to You? We ended our conversation in prayer. He prayed, “Please God show up for me. Send someone to help me. Send Jesus Himself.”
The next day, I went for a swim. I knew I had to go, not just to keep up my training for the swim event I was doing in less than two weeks, but also to pray. In the solitude of the water and with the sound of nothing but moving water and rhythmic breathing, my mind clears and I can pray. During my warm up, I focus on my stroke, extending my arms, rotating my body and coordinating my kick. After about 15 minutes of repetitive laps I found myself standing at the lane end, arms crossed, head down on the cold concrete pool ledge and the tears fell. I removed my goggles and prayed, “Lord, Sam is hurting. He is my friend. Please help him.” A simple childlike prayer, its all I had. I did not know how to pray but God heard the deepest cry of my heart. I hurt for my friend. Sam needed Jesus and I was asking God to show him Jesus!
In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us…Romans 8:26
That same night, Sam calls. I didn’t expect a call that soon and was apprehensive to hear what he was going to say. But when he started with “You are not going to believe what happened today.” I sat up straight with excitement. I knew God answered my prayer. He saw Jesus! “I laid down for a nap this afternoon and within five minutes I had a dream”, he began telling me. “I saw a beautiful face and it said ‘don’t worry you are going to be ok’, and then I woke up.” He went on to say that he fell back to sleep and a few minutes later he had another dream that was prompting him to get his gun and stand with it cocked at the front door. Someone was going to knock on the door and he needed to be ready but not to shoot. Fear overcame me at this moment in his story. I had been concerned for his “mental health” and actually prayed against any thoughts of suicide or other irrational thoughts he may have. He said, “I awoke from the dream and was confused. I actually considered getting the gun and keeping it next to the couch just in case, but then I heard a knock at the door.” As he approached the door he saw a uniformed officer on the other side. It was the police! He let the officer in and through conversation learned that his wife Lisa had called the police and asked if they would check on him, she was concerned about him. The officer spoke of his fellow officer that was a pastor and offered to ask him to stop by. Sam agreed and within the hour the pastor/officer came along with his wife Lisa. Sam opened up to this pastor explaining what he had been feeling and the struggle that he had, the emptiness and search for God, and his recent alcoholic binges. The pastor said, “I know exactly how you feel. I have been there myself. I can help you.”
As I listened to Sam describe his day, I noticed my mouth was wide open. I hadn’t shut it the whole time, astounded at the faithfulness of God. But did Sam see it? Did Sam connect and see what I saw? I asked him, “Sam, what do you make of it all? Who was the beautiful face? Who told you to get your gun and stand there but not shoot, and why?” I asked. He told me, “The beautiful face was Jesus! It was Jesus himself!” I heard a crackle in his voice. “I had an encounter with God. He came first, then Satan followed. Satan was trying to get me killed. If that cop entered my home with me standing there with a cocked gun after a phone call from my wife telling him I may not be ‘emotionally stable’ he would have shot me.”
You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good… Genesis 50:20.
This cop would lead him to the person that understood where he was spiritually, who had battled the same “demons” and could help him. I finally took my hand and lifted my jaw and shut my mouth. God had done it! He heard our prayers and answered them.
You, dear children, are from God and have overcome them, because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world. 1 John 4:4