Friday, September 28, 2007

Faith Of Our Mothers – Holy Faith! - Clemons

Anyone who grew up in the Church has probably, at one time or another, sung that grand old hymn, “Faith of Our Fathers.” It’s a great song, and I’m fond of it’s message, but I also realize I probably learned more about faith from my mother than I did from my dad.

I remember, as a young college grad, asking my mother to pray about a position at a school district I had applied for and wanted. She took my request to heart, and to her knees, and two weeks later called to ask if I got the job. I was chagrined to tell her, “No, the position was offered to someone with more experience.” I’ll never forget her response. She said, “That’s not the right answer. I’ve prayed about this and I’m certain God told me you were the one they would hire.” I hung up feeling God hadn’t just disappointed me, but my mother as well.

You’ve probably already guessed what happened. Two days later the phone rang. It was Human Resources wanting to know if I was still interested in the position. Seems the other person they wanted received a counter offer from his employer that included a pay raise if he promised to stay. I got the job. Go figure.

That kind of faith is something one builds over the years. I’m not sure where the faith walk for my mother started, but I do know of one step along the way. My younger sister, Christine, was only three years old and was dying. For two days she lay in her bed curled up in a ball holding her stomach. My folks took her to the doctor, but at age three, she couldn’t tell them what was wrong, and all my parents knew was that she was listless and wouldn’t eat. The doctor sent them home with a prescription to buy medicine for the treatment of the flu.

They waited another two days before insisting they see the doctor again. He opened his office to them on a Saturday, but fifty years ago they didn’t have the diagnostic tests we have today, so he still couldn’t determine what was wrong. Nonetheless, since Christine hadn’t eaten anything in several days, the doctor did admit her to the hospital. He knew the problem was internal so he decided to go in and take a look around, and what he found was that her appendix had burst and she was filled with gangrene. In those days appendicitis was the number two killer among women.

My father, a godly man who served the Lord with all his heart, was shaken. As a young boy, he had lost his own sister to appendicitis. The tragedy had played a significant role in my grandfather’s turning away from God. He couldn’t quite reconcile a loving God sitting idly by and watching the death of an innocent child. Now my father was being tested in the same way.

And the complication of gangrene only made it worse. They removed my sister’s appendix but her vital signs were weak, and the infection had spread throughout her body. The doctor gave her as much penicillin as possible, so much that my mother says her bum looked like a little red pincushion, but the drug was new. It had only been on the market a few years and was considered by many to still be in the experiential stage. In this case, it had little, or no, effect. Nothing they tried seemed to work.

The doctor counseled my parents to go home and prepare for the worst, but they refused. For three days they stayed at Christine’s bedside and prayed, catching only moments of sleep as her health continued to deteriorate before their eyes. The doctor finally convinced them to leave, if only for a few hours, just to get some rest. He promised to call if anything changed. My dad dropped my mother off, but having been away from the office for almost a week he felt he should go in and return a few calls. My mother knelt by her bed and prayed.

Now, they’d both prayed the whole time they were at the hospital, but for some reason, God chose this time to assure my mother that everything would be alright. All of a sudden my mother rose to her feet filled with what she describes as “perfect peace.” She somehow knew everything was fine. She started doing the laundry.

Meanwhile my dad finished his business and arrived home to find my mother singing while hanging clothes on the line in the back yard. To say he was unnerved by her calm would be an understatement. He insisted they return to the hospital at once, but Mom’s faith in God’s promise was unshakable. She was content to wait until the laundry was done.

Today, when they tell this story, my Dad’s honest enough to say her faith tested the limits of his patience. How could she be so sure it was God’s voice she heard? But wouldn’t you know, when they entered Christine’s room, they found the oxygen tent had been removed and the nurse gushing with excitement. “Your daughter has eaten something for the first time in days,” she exclaimed, and when my parents looked into the crib, Christine reached up and wiggled her fingers, begging to be held. Of course my mother didn’t hesitate to ask the nurse when she’d first noticed signs of improvement, nor was she surprised to learn it was the exact time Mom got up from her knees after hearing God say, “all is well.”

Yes, boys and girls, the faith of our mother’s is indeed, a “Holy” faith.

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