Friday, June 7, 2013

A Fool for the Sake of the Gospel

Praying in public can be embarrassing. Especially, when you are desperate to find  a missing wallet.

My two daughters and I were riding the metro in Washington DC, when I casually reached for my wallet and couldn’t find it. I looked in every pocket of my bag. No Wallet. I pulled out books and papers, to see if it was tucked inside. No Wallet. I began to panic. I said, “Girls, my wallet is gone.” We set off to the security booth where I explained the situation. They were helpful, asked for a description and suggested that maybe it was left on the train before we had transferred. They sent someone to search for it.

We stood by the booth waiting. Panic was rising within me, I said to my daughters, “We have to pray. Now. They have to find that wallet.”  The three of us grabbed hands, sat on the concrete floor and prayed while commuters rushed through the turnstiles.

In a circumstance like that, most anyone is prompted to pray. I thought about just praying on my own, but I was so worried, I wanted all of us to pray together. We did.  We prayed that the wallet be safe. We prayed that nobody take anything from it. We prayed that whoever is looking for it be assisted by angels to help them find it. Lastly, I asked God for forgiveness for having been irresponsible and I said I was sorry for losing it. We closed with "Amen." Then we waited. I continued to panic as I got on my cell phone to put a hold on credit cards. 

Sometimes prayers get answered just as we expected. But sometimes, they don’t. This time they got answered in more ways than I expected.

Our spoken prayer was that God send an angel to help the person find my wallet. But the one who received that divine help was not one of the metro workers. It was my daughter. After praying, she was quiet for several minutes and then and went into Problem Solving Mode. While I was on the phone, she began firing off questions, “Did you look in your pants pocket?” “Did it fall out of your pocket?” It was a bit irritating actually as I was trying to press "3" for customer service etc. Part of me wanted to stop her as she grabbed my bag and began methodically going through it, yet again. 

But low and behold, she found it. My wallet was tucked in a zippered pocket of the bag. Yes,  I had forgotten to check that zipped pocket.

We jumped up and down. We squealed with delight. A prayer had been answered. What was lost was found! Sophia declared that the angels had helped her sister. We all were dancing with joy. The metro security workers were mildly amused and put a stop on the wallet search.  

For the girls, the joy was that their spoken prayer was answered. But for me, what was answered was also an ongoing silent prayer. 
I had been praying the silent (rambling) prayers of a mom who worries about her children's faith. I see them becoming aware that most people don't go to church, don't believe in God and don't know the stories of the bible.  I get discouraged that they don't have what I had growing up - a large church with  multi-age Sunday School classes, junior choirs and an elementary school filled with "church kids". Sophia asks me why her teachers and friends are allowed to say "Oh My God" when the bible says we aren't supposed to. It breaks my heart because to say "We believe in God, we are different." With a mom who is a pastor, will they think that faith is reserved only for those who are called to ministry,  have the name faith, or make no mistakes in life.

I pray to God continually that they have their own relationship with God - one that can ask God for forgiveness and receive God's love and grace throughout life.

I think that my rambling prayer was answered in that Metro station. I was humbled that day by God's power t in the middle of rush hour in the nation’s capital. When i asked God to forgive me for losing the wallet, I felt I had demonstrated an important reality of Christian living that is not just taught in the Sunday School class. When we sat on that dirty concrete floor and huddled to pray,  we were all relying on God in a way that was more real than a reading a bible story. We even laughed that we didn’t care that people looked at us when our screams of rejoicing echoed through the train station. We were unashamed in our faith.. and were were glorifying God for the miracle he had done.

Interestingly, teaching my children repentance, forgiveness, and humility was a lesson learned when I was most ashamed and embarrassed of my shortcomings. Looking back, I see that the Missing Wallet Situation taught me more than I can recount. 

For me, God answered the prayer of a praying mom who wants to model faith as well as teach it… even if it means making a fool out of myself. 

For them, God answered the prayer of the lost wallet.  

Either way, it was the power of God to save us.

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