Hazelwood – Questions and Answers
It is a wonderful thing when there are lots of children coming forward to hear the Pastor’s Children’s story. Almost every session begins with a question and then by the end, the Pastor has led the kids, and the rest of us, to an answer.
In a letter to the church in Corinth, the Apostle Paul wrote, “When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me.” (1 Corinthians 13:11 NIV)
Children are in constant learning mode because so much is new to them. Any guess as to what their most common question is? Did you say “WHY?” That would be my guess too. Kids are curious and want to understand.
People who do not yet know Jesus will often ask a similar question when something goes terribly wrong in their lives. How often have we heard, “Why is this happening to me?” How often have we asked that very question? How has God responded? “Trust me”, he says.
Trust me! How easy is that? Sometimes it is hard, but it is the better way.
Recently, I said goodbye to a long-time friend – the Reverend Canon William Fairlie. Despite the formal title, anyone who met him simply called him “Bill.” Bill was a humble man, a loving man and a giving man. Bill was a brother-in-arms, one of that special breed of Chaplains who could speak the language of the soldier. Not the rough and coarse vernacular, but rather the plain, simple words that made sense, and were helpful, in a time of confusion and fear. I first met Bill back in the mid-seventies; he had painted the canvas on the side of his truck to read, “Working like Hell to beat the Devil!” I have carried those words with me ever since. It was a snowy Saturday morning when I went to see him at the hospital – I found him asleep. He had suffered a brain injury back in the summer and had suffered several setbacks since. I knew he didn’t have much more time on earth and I had hoped to say my good-byes to him. Instead, I was led to prayer. As I prayed, I felt the presence of God as clear as I had felt it at Hazelwood Lake so many years ago. I also sensed that death was standing in the wings. I thanked God for Bill, for the difference Bill had made in the lives of so many, and for giving me the opportunity to meet Bill. Then I asked God a question – a request actually. With all my heart, I said, “Lord, if it is your will, please relieve Bill of his suffering and take him into your presence now.” That was roughly 10:30 am; Bill died at 10:50 am. God does answer prayer.
I cannot speak for you, but Paul’s words were so true in my case. As a new Christian, when it came to prayer, I really did talk, think and reason like a child. My prayers were filled with “why” questions. As I matured – and I am not there yet – I began to frame my petitions in terms of requests, like: “Show me how”; “Help me to”; or “Lead me through.” This approach has helped me to be more open to God’s answer – and answer he does!
For the past three months our family has been working hard to help our Dad through some significant heath and accommodation challenges. Our experiences have ranged from “absolute nightmare” to “wonderful” and I have shared some of them with you. Throughout the whole period we trusted God to show the way, to help us make wise decisions and to lead us through the dark times. I am so excited to report that Dad is now happily settled into a wonderful senior’s residence a mere 500 metres from my sister’s place. Once again, God ensured help was close at hand and that Dad would be properly cared for. Thank you all for your prayers and all glory be to God for answered prayer and for leading us to the beginning of this next chapter in our family’s story.