Moonflower Faith

Image by Francesco Pitarresi from Pixabay

I have fought the good fight. I have finished the race. I have kept the faith. – 1 Timothy 4:7 NIV

 I’d never heard of moonflowers until a friend posted a picture of hers on Facebook. “The blossoms bloom only at night,” she wrote.

Flowers that bloom only in the dark? Intrigued, I did some online research.

Moonflower vines, I learned, can grow up to 20 feet, with 4-to-6-inch white, fragrant blossoms opening in the evening until the following morning.

How like faith—genuine, real, rubber-meets-the-road faith. Faith, I’ve learned, is only faith when you can’t see. When you’re in the dark, not knowing, not in control. When you have no one else to turn to but God.

Have you ever known anyone who possesses such a faith? I did.

To say that Louise was a joyful person was an understatement. Joy bubbled out of her. I rarely saw her without her bright smile and sparkling eyes—and sense of humor. Situations that would give me permission to wallow in self-pity, she managed to find the light side. Like the time she came to church sporting a black eye, caused by the recoil from her hunting rifle. The church pianist, she sat at the keyboard on the platform, laughing as she told us the story.

Louise and her husband, Carl, once led an active, busy life, led by their love for their family, their church, and their Lord. Blessed with musical talent, they often sang together, visiting numerous churches in the area. They produced cassette tapes, offering them for a donation to cover the cost of production.

When Louise was diagnosed with cancer, Carl was chronically ill himself. Since she could no longer take care of him, he went to live in a local nursing home.

Wanting to offer back some of the comfort she’d always given me, I made a batch of chicken soup and took it to her. But she was the one who ministered to me.

“When I woke up this morning,” she said as we sat at her kitchen table, “before I even got out of bed, I lay there, just praising God.”

Photo courtesy of Louise Tucker Jones

Louise lived the words she once sang: “You talk of faith when you’re up on the mountain. Talk comes easy when life’s at its best. But it’s down in the valley of trials and temptations, that’s when faith is really put to the test. The God on the mountain is still God in the valley. When things go wrong, He’ll make it right. And the God of the good times is still God in the bad times. The God of the day is still God in the night.”*

Shortly before she passed away, a month before Carl, I saw some pictures of Louise on Facebook. Her thin frame and head turban told of the battle she waged. But her bright eyes and smile that lit up her whole face told another story—a story of a moonflower faith, its beauty opening to the dark, exuding an unforgettable fragrance into the world around it.

O God, may my faith, too, be a moonflower faith. Amen.

Read and reflect on Hebrews 11.

*From the song, “God on the Mountain” by Tracy Dartt.

© 2019 Michele Huey. All rights reserved.

The Risk of Prayer

Mike from Tibbens Towing in Clearfield, PA, backs our camper into our campsite. (Aug. 12, 2019)

 

So I say to you: Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened. –Jesus, as quoted in Luke 11:9–10 NIV

In his book, Draw the Circle: The 40 Day Prayer Challenge, Mark Batterson tells about an African missionary whose church met beneath the shade of a tree near the village because they didn’t have a building in which to worship. The local witch doctor wasn’t too happy with that, so he cursed the tree and it withered.

When you preach Christ and His power, when you preach an awesome God who can do the impossible, when you preach the powerful presence of the indwelling Spirit, you better be ready to stand firm. Trials always come to test your faith, especially when you proclaim it.

In response, the missionary called for a public prayer meeting during which he laid hands on the tree and asked God to resurrect it.

In public. Where everyone could hear him.

“If God doesn’t answer his prayer,” Batterson wrote, “he would have dug an even deeper hole. That’s the risk of prayer, isn’t it?”

That made me think. How often do we say “safe” prayers, all in the realm of the possible? Do we have the courage to pray the impossible prayers? Or do we pray them, but give ourselves an out?

“Sometimes,” Batterson noted, “God calls us to ante up all the faith we have, and then let the chips fall where they may.”

When I read this devotional, appropriately titled “Shameless Audacity,” DH and I were in a real pickle. Two days earlier the transmission went in our pickup while towing the camper to the campground. Now, while we sat at the campground, the truck sat in the towing company’s lot, waiting for us to decide what to do with it.

Rebuilding the transmission would cost anywhere from $3,800 to $4,600. With taxes coming due in another month, the fuel oil tank needing replenished before winter, DH retired for nearly a year, and us living on a very limited income, where would the money come from? The extended warranty (that’s another story) expired in April.

It just so happened (translate: God-thing) a Christian couple were camped a few sites up from us. On one of his walks around the campground, DH stopped and talked to them. They, as well as everyone in the campground, knew of our predicament. After all, a tow truck had backed our camper in our site then left with our truck.

So they prayed with DH—that the truck would be fixed at no cost to us! Now that’s a bold prayer!

Bold prayers take bold faith. Shameless audacity.

Shameless means disregard for that others may say or think. Audacity is a willingness to take bold risks.

Faith calls us to believe nothing is impossible with God. “It’s the impossible prayers that honor God because they reveal our faith and allow God to reveal His glory,” Batterson noted.

I thought about the impossible scenarios in the Bible: the Red Sea parting and the Israelites walking across on dry ground. The walls of Jericho falling down flat without a hand touching them. Barren Sarah and 100-year-old Abraham having a baby. The virgin birth of Jesus. His miracles. His resurrection.

God specializes in the impossible!

If God can speak the universe into being, can He not take our impossible situations and turn them into HIM-possible ones?

I still don’t know where the money is going to come from to pay for the transmission. But I do know Jesus said to ask, seek, and knock. He promises that what we ask will be provided, what we seek we’ll find, and the door will open when we knock.

Oh, yes, the withered tree … “Not only did God break the curse and resurrect the tree,” Batterson wrote, “it became the only tree of its type to yield its fruit not once, but twice a year. A double crop! A double blessing!”

What impossible situation are you faced with today? What bold prayer do you need to pray?

Remember, sometimes you’ve got to ante up all the faith you have, pray with shameless audacity, and let the chips fall where they may.

Dear God, give me the holy boldness to pray the impossible prayers. Amen.

Read and reflect on Luke 11:5–9; 18:1–8; James 1:2–4.

© 2019 Michele Huey. All rights reserved.