A Stranger’s Prayer

BCheadshot2013By Jennifer Slattery

Sometimes prayers grip my heart and won’t let go. This was one of those times, but I never expected God’s answer to come the way it did.

We’d recently moved to Nebraska from Missouri, and I wasn’t happy about it. We’d left a loving church, a great community, and a close-knit neighborhood. Plus we were moving right before our daughter’s sophomore year in high school, a fact that devastated her.

Watching her sit on one of the many boxes cluttering our living room, her shoulders slumped, her eyes red and puffy, my heart broke. “Lord, please, let us stay,” I begged. “At least until she graduates.”

Less than six months later, God flipped my prayers by reminding me, sometimes there’s more at stake than a change of address.

Not long after moving, I connected with a woman who had arrived in the Omaha area the year before. Having two teenage daughters herself, she understood my worries and pain. As a result, we became quick friends. Each morning, we’d walk around a small, man-made lake, praying for our children, for others, sometimes for one another. But one day, our prayers became more serious, more urgent.

fall-church-hill-crosses“Do you know Kathy?” she asked. “She works at the church.”

I admitted I didn’t.

“Her son has gone into kidney failure and needs a transplant. He’s only seventeen.”

This hit my mama’s heart hard as images of my own child surfaced. I worried when she came down with the flu. I couldn’t imagine what it would be like to fear losing her all together. And what must life be like for this poor child, spending three hours a week, four hours at a time, hooked to a dialysis machine? It seemed there was nothing my friend or I could do but pray.

Which in truth was the most effective thing we could do, for the Bible says, “The prayers of the righteous are powerful and effective.” (James 5:16)

So we prayed, and prayed, and prayed, and then, when I came home, I prayed some more and invited my family to join me. They were equally devastated, my daughter especially. One night, as I lay in bed, I heard sobbing coming from her room below. Pulse igniting, I jumped up and hurried downstairs to find her hugging her pillow, tears streaming her face.

“What if that boy dies?” she asked me.

I had no answer.

But a few nights later, my husband did. He told us over dinner. “I’m going to see if I’m a match.”

I stared at him, dueling emotions warring within. My heart leapt at the possibility that this teen might soon get his kidney, but I worried for my husband. What if the surgery went horribly wrong? Numerous what-if scenarios flooded my mind, but the one that rose to the forefront—God’s in this. I knew this with utter certainty.

The more my husband and I thought about it and prayed about it, the more we realized God’s hand had been leading him in this direction for over a year. Prior to this, we’d never given donation more than a passing thought, but one day, a friend who worked as an organ procurement coordinator suggested I write a novel on donation. The idea didn’t appeal to me, so I promptly told her no. But a week later, I awoke with a story about a single mother who worked in the organ donation field and needed to see God’s attentive caring hand. I’d been walking with God long enough to realize, when stories unfold like that, they come from Him. So, I called my friend. I told her I’d write the story on one condition—that she’d help me, a lot, because I had zero medical knowledge and knew such an endeavor would require immense research and understanding.

She agreed, and over the next six months, we met regularly as she taught me the ins and outs of organ donation. Often my husband joined us. He’d eat his lunch, listening, asking questions on occasion, merely curious.

Or so we thought. But a year later when he began talking about being a donor, he and I realized God had been planting the seeds of donation long before we’d begun praying for the teenager in desperate need of a kidney.

phoneThis realization overwhelmed me with praise.

The events that followed seemed to drag slowly and rush by. There were phone calls, then more phone calls, and all sorts of tests my husband had to undergo as a potential donor, and we saw God’s hand at every step.

Then, the night of the surgery arrived. My husband was a wreck. He was so anxious, his calves broke out in a rash. Face tight, he paced our living room, sat, then paced some more. Finally, unable to sit still, he left for softball practice. Two hours early.  Sitting in a near empty parking lot, he texted a friend.

“I’m a little nervous. Pray for me?”

His friend did, and afterward, my husband got out and sat on the back of his car. Waiting. Stressing. Praying. Less than ten minutes later, a stranger pulled into the parking lot and walked directly to my husband.

“I was driving by and felt the need to come pray for someone,” he said. “Can I pray for you?”

The air expelled from my husband’s chest. “That’d be awesome.”

The two men bowed their heads, right there, and the moment they did, my husband felt instant peace. “It was like God had sent an angel directly to me,” my husband told me later.

Listening, my heart swelled with praise, and I knew everything was going to be all right, because the surgery rested in our Father’s hands. It’s been just over a year since that beautiful, miraculous day, and both my husband and the recipient are doing well. Better than well, because through their prayers, they caught a glimpse of God’s ever-faithful heart and tender care.

Jennifer Slattery writes soul-stirring fiction for New Hope Publishers, a publishing house passionate about bringing God’s healing grace and truth to the hopeless. She also writes for Crosswalk.com, Internet Café Devotions, and the group blog, Faith-filled Friends. When not writing, Jennifer loves going on mall dates with her adult daughter and coffee dates with her hilariously fun husband.

Visit with Jennifer online at JenniferSlatteryLivesOutLoud.com and connect with her on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/JenSlatte

Intertwined:Intertwined_N154121

Abandoned by her husband for another woman, Tammy Kuhn, an organ procurement coordinator often finds herself in tense and bitter moments. After an altercation with a doctor, she is fighting to keep her job and her sanity when one late night she encounters her old flame Nick. She walks right into his moment of facing an unthinkable tragedy. Because they both have learned to find eternal purposes in every event and encounter, it doesn’t take long to discover that their lives are intertwined but the ICU is no place for romance….or is it? Could this be where life begins again?

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