Heath was five when he came to live with us that autumn.
His 20-year-old mom, her boyfriend and another male relative had been evicted from their apartment next door.
Denice asked if we would keep Heath while they lived in their car awhile. Initially, I said “no.” I was afraid of legal ramifications and didn’t want something to happen for which I would be held liable. Yet, as Denice walked out my door, I knew that I had made the wrong decision.
The next six weeks were memorable to say the least. Mark and I added a kindergartener to our family of three.
Nine-month-old Hannah enjoyed Heath’s company and we could tell the feeling was mutual. They crawled after one another and he taught her how to play hide-and-seek.
Things rocked along amazingly smooth until Heath came home from school with a fever. His pale skin seemed more sallow and the circles under his eyes grew deeper. Our own baby had not yet been sick and I wasn’t really sure what to do.
Money was especially tight in those days and I knew that Heath wouldn’t be covered under our meager insurance. I wasn’t even sure that I could take him to the doctor since I wasn’t his legal guardian or anything. Desperately, I turned to James 5:14.
We were attending a very conservative church at the time and I decided against calling in our deacons for a healing service. The only oil I had in the house was 100% vegetable, but I decided I’d get started as Heath seemed to be getting worse. It was going to be quite some time before Mark got home from work.
My faith in the whole process was pretty shaky – yet, I did believe that God was my only Hope. Desperately, I carried the oil-soaked cloth to Heath’s bedside.
I told Heath that I was concerned about him and was going to be praying for him to get better. He’d been praying with us at meals and bedtime, so he nodded his head weakly as I began to stroke his forehead with the cloth.
The prayer itself was nothing special. I rambled about Heath’s need and claimed some simple verses about God’s power. I stumbled with my words and went they fell flat altogether, I finally opened my eyes.
Heath was looking up at me, waiting as it were for his turn to speak.
“I’m gonna be well now, huh?…. I like it when God talks.”
I stared dumbfounded at his simple trust. Then Heath added,
“You did hear Him, didn’t you? I know I did.”
As Heath began to get better, I realized that it wasn’t my faith that restored him, but that of a five-year-old.
It was the first of many lessons that I would learn about power being perfected in weakness.
When have you seen faith blossom in prayer?
“For it is just like a man about to go on a journey, who called his own slaves and entrusted his possessions to them” (Matthew 25:14).
Jesus is away on His journey. He has journeyed back into the heavenlies to prepare a place for you and I (John 14:3). He has freed us from sin and made us His holy slaves to righteousness (Romans 6:18). His work is finished (John 19:30).
The question remains with us. Not so much in how we will accomplish the work He has given us, but in how we will view Him. It’s all a matter of perspective.
We, like the slaves in the parable of the talents, have a choice. On the one hand, we can put Jesus first and allow the truth of His character to influence our outlook (Matthew 6:33). We can see Him face to face, just as He is, and be empowered to go boldly before His throne to pick up everything He has prepared that we need for life and godliness (Hebrews 4:16; 2 Peter 1:3). With little or much we proclaim, “Master! You have entrusted great things to me” (Matthew 25:20,22)!
But when the earthly skews our outlook, we waste not only His heavenly resources, but the glory of Who He is. We are like men who wear mirrored glasses inside-out, smearing Christ’s image into our own blurred reflection. Early twentieth century commentator H. M. Spence explains, “Thus men regard God, not as He is but according to their own perverted views; they read their own character into their conception of Him.” With the third slave we grumble, “Master, I knew you to be a hard man” and thus I have a disappointing life (Matthew 25:24).
Notice, in both situations, the Master remains the same. He is the Comforter (John 16:7), the Good Shepherd (John 10:11), and our Advocate with the Father (1 John 2:1). Yet what we believe about Him determines our degree of freedom. Faith must not only believe that He is, but that He actually rewards those who seek Him (Hebrews 11:6).
When our view of Him is filtered through the lens of self, His image remains distorted. Our doubt distances His power, despite the fact that He is the same yesterday, today and forever (Hebrews 13:5).
“We know that, when He appears, we shall be like Him, because we shall see Him just as He is” (1 John 3:2). He has appeared. May we see Him exactly as He is.