Early mornings with school-age children are usually routine. But one special morning many years ago went down in the history book of my heart. My son Scotty awoke with a tummy ache. Nothing to worry about, except that his father had scheduled business meetings out of town for a few days.
As the other children went off to school, Scotty’s pain grew more intense. I drove to our doctor’s office, who I was sure would be able to help with some great medicine. Instead, he said, “We must get Scotty to the hospital immediately. This is appendicitis.”
I was so tense, I might have been the one who needed hospital care! We were soon in a hospital room, and Scotty was prepared for surgery.
I found a Bible on the bedside table and turned to the well-known Psalm 23. “Oh yes, Lord, You are my Shepherd,” I said. Then I closed the Bible and, with hugs, tears, and a gentle little prayer, whispered, “God bless you, dear son,” then watched as Scotty was rolled toward surgery.
The hospital waiting room was homey and seemed to whisper sweet rest to my weariness. I had never faced such an emergency alone. My husband, Woody, was the rock in our family; I leaned on him for security in all matters. But when this crisis came, there I was, alone.
Sitting on the couch was good, but looking over at the magazine rack was better. It was there I found a small publication that would soon change my life. The title, Adventures in Prayer, caught my attention—I had never thought of prayer in that way.
Could prayer really be an adventure?
The radiant smile of the beautiful woman on the cover seemed to say yes. Her name was Catherine Marshall. After reading only one story, I knew she had things to share with me that I had never experienced. I was fascinated that each story revealed a personal crisis she had experienced and then showed how prayer had brought the turning point in each one.
Her prayers read like conversations with a real person. It did not take long for me to realize that I had never spoken to God that way. To think that I could talk to Him about anything on my heart was an exciting and amazing revelation.
I thought back to my Sunday school classes that were full of good friends and teachers.
Not once during my childhood had I been taught that I could talk to God as a friend. Everything that surrounded my faith was routine, not personal.
Joining the church at ten years of age was just something I knew I was supposed to do. Marrying a minister seemed like a good choice too. I’d always wanted to be a social worker and figured that Woody’s role as a minister would fit perfectly with my plan to help people. I had no idea that it took much more than social work to be in ministry with the Lord Jesus.
Woody and I had married with great joy after two years of dating. But now it was 12 years later. I was 32 years old and in a spiritual daze.
Was I missing something?
That afternoon in New Mexico, where we were in Christian missions at a Navajo school, I discovered that I wasn’t just missing something…I was missing Someone.
Despite my religiosity, I had no relationship with God through His Son Jesus Christ. Yes, He was my Savior, but He most certainly was not the Lord of my life.
My whole life had consisted of nothing more than prayers and lessons that had been given to me from books. The Bible was little more than a textbook to me, one from which I had learned many facts and that had led to me graduating from a Christian college several years earlier. But even as a Sunday School teacher, I had only read the authors’ lessons. I had no fuller understanding.
From deep within my searching heart, I quietly told God my burden. “Oh God, I don’t know You at all. Please help me!” In that short prayer, I begged for an understanding of what it meant to be a Christian. I had become hungry to know the truth of the Gospel and to know God in a personal way.
Inside my heart, it suddenly felt like springtime. Was it really possible to feel like a new person with fresh hope in my heart? It was.
I sat there in that waiting room until I finally saw Woody coming in the front door of the hospital. We hurried to each other and quickly went to Scotty’s room, where he had just been rolled in from surgery. The doctor’s report was for full recovery and freedom from pain. God’s report to me was that I was on my way to freedom from a form of religion with no deep meaning. Praise God, my life, ever since that day, has been filled with many more adventures in prayer.