Do you carry some deep concerns for a young person you love who is having emotional, physical, or spiritual struggles? Here is how I am learning to pray for those in peril.
The farmer and his children were clustered just outside the fence, staring at something in the middle of the semi-circle formed by their denim-clad legs.
Mike and I had just completed a hike – more of a rock-scramble – up to a rural waterfall we discovered on our last visit here to Rogaland in southwestern Norway. It was late last Saturday afternoon, and the late-winter sun was already dipping behind the mountains.
As we began to pull onto the main road, we spotted the family on the perimeter of their farm. Curious to see what they were studying so intently, we pulled over, stopped, and rolled down our windows.
At the farmer’s welcoming smile, we joined their circle only to be instantly smitten by the center of attraction, a ewe with her newborn, so freshly delivered that the lamb was still coated with afterbirth and shaking with chill.
“Snakker du engelsk?” I asked.
“Ja, ja, I speak English,” the farmer responded. “Yew are visiting from America?”
I explained that my paternal grandparents grew up not far from there, and we also raised sheep on the farm where I was born near Norway, Illinois.
“Den you understand da problem. Dis ewe was carrying two lambs. Ve stayed away as she birthed dem because it’s bedder not to interfere, but when ve came back to check, one lamb vas missing.”
I gently stroked the lamb as it wobbled forward on bowed legs. “How old?”
“She had dem only tew to tree hours ago. Ve have searched evervare and cannot find da second lamb.”
“But it cannot have gone far!”
“Nei, dey can barely valk at first. Someting took it away – maybe human, but likely a Norwegian eagle.”
I was horrified to think of a predator of any kind snatching a newborn from its mother. As we talked at length with the dejected family, my mind went to a picture that Irish missionary Amy Carmichael carried in her Bible during the decades she cared for children rescued from the horrors of temple prostitution in India.
It depicted Jesus as the great Shepherd reaching for a lamb while a vulture circled overhead.
Amy wrote, “The vultures circle round us here in India, waiting for a chance to snatch these precious jewels. Oh how urgently we need those at home to pray! Prayer is the very air we breathe at Dohnavur. We pray urgently and at all times for the needs of the family here. We have three rules of prayer:
"We don’t need to explain to our Father things that are known to Him.
We don’t need to press Him, as if we had to deal with an unwilling God.
We don’t need to suggest to Him what to do, for He Himself knows what to do.”
Do you struggle sometimes knowing how and exactly what to pray for those you love?
I certainly do.
Too often my intercession is a lengthy soliloquy rather than a simple conversation. I needlessly expound on a situation to the One who already knows all things. I push God to answer rather than persevering as I wait for his timing. I tell him exactly how I think he ought to resolve matters.
Last Saturday, Mike and I could not return to our apartment in Stavanger without offering to help search for the missing lamb.
“Could he have fallen into that ditch?” I asked. “Or maybe wandered into a nearby field?”
“Nei,” he shook his head. “Ve hav searched for dat liddle lamb, just like the story in the Book, ja? Ve hav to accept dese tings happen. Ve do not know why.”
The farmer knew what could be done – and had been – far better than the American tourists, however well-intentioned we were.
Only 1200 air miles from where I write, predators are swooping from the sky to drop bombs on the citizens of Ukraine. Children are being snatched from their mothers, husbands from wives, brothers from sisters. Evil circles above the skies of Mariupol, Kiev, and Odessa.
In a newsletter we received last week from the “Klines,” a young couple from our last pastorate who are now serving as tent-makers in the Middle East, our friend Esther wrote:
“We can't understand this illogical mixing of good and evil, but we must live with it, accept it. And it seems that the very fact the two can exist in tandem proves God’s existence, exemplifies his infusing and infiltrating presence.
“We must seek good amidst evil, hope amidst despair—and it is pure grace that he gives us the ability to perceive the love-pierced holes in the darkness, that we have the choice to reach out for light no matter how distant.”
When I am wrestling in prayer, I often return to Amy Carmichael's “Three Rules.” I cease my explanations, my insistence, my suggestions for how God should resolve matters. In our prayers for all those in peril, we acknowledge that evil exists, but that love pierces holes in the darkness, and we have the choice to reach out for light.
As we bid our new friends farewell last Saturday, we offered for them to visit us if they ever came to America.
“Dat may not happen,” the farmer replied, “but we vill see yew in Heaven, ja? All dings vill ve made right den.”
The Lamb will make sure of it.
© 2022 Maggie Wallem Rowe
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