Sunday, January 12, 2014

The startle of an answered prayer

In a couple of sci-fi movies there would be a scene where some guy was in a room with a phone, alarm or apparatus, and doing absolutely nothing. While the character would be bouncing a tennis ball off a wall or something suddenly the apparatus would sound of ring. The watcher would inevitably leap out of his chair and stare amazed at the apparatus. Then he would remember to do his job, which typically was to alert others, and an unholy panic would set in as scrambling commenced.
This is sort of how I felt after a recent answered prayer. I had forgotten that prayer is, in fact, a two way communication. Sometimes the other party, God himself, talks back. I've had to sheepishly admit my shock that this crazy, wild, prayer just got answered. I mean, really Court, you were that surprised? It all started a few months ago when we got the news my mom had cancer, again. I started praying then for healing for her, and I wanted to believe what I was saying with all my heart but logically it just didn't make sense. 
Then I had this nightmare that I was trapped in a house and there was this bad guy playing games with a group of us and finally I made it to the top only to discover the bad guy was my mother. Yeesh. That's gotta mean something, I thought, so I sucked up my colossal pride and I went up to front for prayer at church. My pastor suggested that the next time I have the dream I turn and face the bad guy. He advised that it was likely the fear of the cancer returning and my mom dying that I was processing so I needed to turn to it and say: 'I'm not afraid of you!' 
Sure, I can do that, and I went to sleep the next night with my mental sword ready and my armor on. Only I had a different dream. My mom was in it again but we were going to some of my church friend's houses for tea. What the what? Stupid unconscious mind. So I had tea with my mom and an odd assortment of folks, one of whom I think was Oprah, and woke up even more confused. Ever the genius, I remembered, oh yeah! I can pray about it. So I did and all I seemed to hear was that I needed to go serve my mother. Plans were made for me to tag along with her and dad after seeing them for Christmas with no real end game in site other than me just staying and helping for a week or so. 
Mom had an appointment scheduled and we trotted off to the doctors office and it was discussed that the next step would be to get a biopsy of the spot by her lung that the cancer cells had come from. Thankfully that got scheduled sooner rather than later and so I was able to be there for the appointment with the surgeon. I asked him what would happen if he got in there and didn't find anything and he looked at me, and then at mom, and seemed to withhold asking her: "did you have any children that lived?" Then, still glaring, he curtly informed me that in all his vast experience of cutting people up he was quite confident he knew what to look for, thank you, and that he would certainly find something. Most likely a large tumor of some sort. To be honest, I like cocky surgeons. Do you really want someone who isn't confident cutting into you?
Still, and here is where I must admit that part of the reason I prayed this prayer was I have this tendency to be a bit of a brat sometimes and I was wanting God to put that surgeon in his place, for as we went home that night I prayed two things: that the surgeon would go in there and find absolutely nothing and that he would be SURPRISED. 
We bustled around the next few days getting mom ready for her procedure and then the day came for it. They moved it up a lot earlier at the last minute and I started to worry, like an idiot, that everyone who was going to pray for her would be starting to pray after it was all over with. Then I remembered, again, that I could pray and so I prayed for a steady hand for the surgeon and what I had prayed before; that he would go in and find nothing and be surprised. The surgeon had mentioned a concern of his was navigating around the scar tissue from a previous surgery mom had in that same spot so the steady hand would indeed be needed. 
Soon he came out, looking awfully tired, and first addressed that he had no problems getting in past the scar tissue. Then, and I swear I'm not making this up, he said that he was surprised because he didn't find any obvious malignancies (that's bad stuff for all you normal folk) and he went on explaining how he had taken some biopsies of different spots still and the results would come back in a few days.
Later, as I rolled his words over in my mind, I thought about how this confident man had likely never used the words that he was surprised in a professional setting. I remembered how I had prayed that very thing, that he would be surprised, and something inside me exploded like a little joy rocket. Could it really be? Could she even be healed?
The next few days of a grueling hospital routine set in and as the weekend approached and it was getting late on a Friday night we started settling in for being stuck at the hospital for the weekend. My mom isn't a fan of hospitals and while she was putting up a good show, I knew she really just wanted to go home. 
Finally the doctor came in, and his body stance was rigid, his expression somber and his tone melancholy. I braced myself for whatever was coming, because surely it couldn't be good. Then he explained the biopsies all came back showing nothing abnormal, and that he had even sent in the original pathology report to be double checked for he was wondering if there wasn't an error in the initial report. He talked for a few minutes and finally I burst out with: did you just say what I think you just said? She has no cancer? He couldn't quite commit to that truth at the moment and suggested the first report would need to be analyzed further. Then, at eight o'clock at night, he asked mom if she wanted to go home.
For the fireworks inside were going full tilt. Boom! The startle of a surprised surgeon who seemed to now suggest this whole awful nightmare may have been a mistake. Before we knew what hit us I was watching the smile spread across my mother's face as she stepped through her own front door. Dad sat down to alert the family, the last few updates being rather droll and this one rather exciting. I went ahead and made arrangements to come on home as well and suddenly I was at my own church Sunday morning. Telling this to those I had prayed with, those who prayed along with me, and sharing in the joy of a 'win.' 
One friend had written me that her arms went straight up in the air when she read my email updating with the good news. Having watched enough football with my father to last a lifetime I immediately thought of someone making the touchdown sign. Exactly. Touch. Down. That little receiving phone ringing off the wall. Sometimes when you pray big, crazy, wild prayers; they get answered. Surprise! God loves you like crazy and he's waiting to throw up his hands like goal posts and celebrate the win with you.

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