Those in the family may remember that our daughter was verbally precocious at an early age. She was born an old soul. By the time she was four, we had amazing discussions about topics abstract and ethical. And spiritual.
She knew our friend by sight, a creative guy who owned a craft shop and drove a bright purple van, his golden retriever hanging out the right window. She would wave and he would honk. Street friends.
And her young ears caught our discussion that October night, when we thought she was asleep.
Our friend was in Arkansas, drove his van into a dark intersection, and hit the side of a semi. He probably would have died but at the last second, he ducked. Alive but with his skull crushed in front, he lay in a coma hundreds of miles away.
The newspaper had reported the accident plus some side information about the seriousness of his head injury. The portion of the brain that was crushed was the place of coherence. He was not moving. He was showing no signs of brain function. We didn’t even bother to wonder…he would die there. We grieved.
Then that little voice. “Mommy, what wrong with Mr. R?” (our children still don’t call some adults by their first names)
I had committed myself to always answering her questions truthfully. I struggled here. What could she understand?
“Well, honey. Mr. R was in a car accident and he is hurt.”
“What’s wrong with him, Mommy?”
“Well, he can’t seem to wake up.”
“Well, let’s pray for him, ok? Let’s pray that he will wake up.”
And for the first time with her, I struggled with what I should do. Should I try to explain to her that sometimes we don’t get what we ask for, that sometimes God has a different idea of what is best? For those who don’t remember Al as a young girl, you might not understand. But she understood. And she wanted to pray for her friend.
God guides us well, even when we are confused. I said, “Of course. Let’s pray for him.” So we did. Every night. Sometimes several times during the day. That sweet little voice, “Dear God, help Mr. R wake up.”
Reports from Arkansas were bleak in early November. Mrs. R was sitting at her husband’s side, playing tape recorded noises from our town, including their dog’s bark and local children singing. She pasted fallen leaves around the room, talked to him, smoothed his hair. And I’m sure, she wept much of the time.
Thanksgiving came late that year. As we were collecting our stuff to go to the in-laws, I pictured Mrs. R, sitting at her husband’s side, all alone in that hospital and I realized I had to call her, so I did.
“Lynne,” she said, “my husband is awake. Really awake. He’s looking at me right now. He’s smiling.”
We cried together and then she had to go. I found my little girl.
“Allyson! Mr. R is awake!”
She nodded, thought for a minute, and then said, “Ok. What does he need now?”
Oh, the pure faith of the child!
The next months were filled with baby step prayers. Mr. R blinked on command. Mr. R followed people with his eyes. Mr. R turned his head. Mr. R moved his fingers and toes. Mr. R sat up. Mr. R spoke. Mr. R stood.
In the spring, Mr. R came home. We greeted him with a backyard party. When I approached, he offered his hand and then, unbelievable, he cracked a joke. He had retained his wry sense of humor. Our friend was here.
Today, Mr. R prefers his wheelchair and lives a very different life than he expected but I’m betting he’d tell you it’s a great life. He teaches at a community college and advocates for the disabled. Whenever I see him, God reminds me that children pray without the burden of WHAT WE KNOW. God heals. God is in the miracle business.
As Chuck Swindoll said, “God likes it best when we reach the bottom of our ability. Then He says, ‘Stand back and watch Me work.’”
Mike and I are facing some decisions in the next weeks. We are grateful for your prayers and we want to be good stewards of what God has given us. We will keep you posted.