Saturday, September 30, 2017

God Uses Us To Answer Prayers

Have you ever prayed fervently for another person, group, or cause, and then realized that God wanted you to be part of the answer to that prayer? Nehemiah mourned, fasted, and begged God to restore the wall of his beloved city Jerusalem, which had fallen into total disrepair.

When the king perceived his cupbearer’s distress and asked what was wrong, Nehemiah prayed again before responding – a quick, piercing arrow prayer calling out to God for help..In that instant God made it clear to Nehemiah that he was to play a key role in the solution to his request, and he asked the king to allow him to return to Jerusalem to oversee rebuilding of the wall (Nehemiah 1;2). 

As I wrote about last time, our trip to Dallas for our dance ministry was emotionally challenging, given the stress and uncertainty over Hurricane Irma and how our family and properties would fare in the storm. Yet God used fellow Christians among us to encircle us in prayer, which greatly uplifted our hearts and helped to give us the peace that passes all understanding (Philippians 4:7).

I firmly believe that God heard our heartfelt prayers, and those of other prayer warriors throughout Florida and the nation, begging for His mercy despite our sins. I believe that He answered by diverting the storm from fully attacking Tampa and other heavily populated areas, and by calming the hurricane force winds to lessen the overall destruction. Because of God’s holiness, He will judge us (Revelation 6:10), but because of His mercy, He lessens judgment (Isaiah 30:18; Psalm 101:1).

How amazing that we have a Father Who cares for us and gives us the awesome privilege not only of praying to Him for our own needs, but for those of others! Not only has he entrusted us with the responsibility to witness to others so that they can be saved by faith (Ephesians 2:8-9) in the death, burial and resurrection (1 Corinthians 15:1-4) of His Son Jesus Christ, but He allows us to be His coworkers, praying for others and being part of the solution to their prayers (James 5:16),

In addition to the danger of the storm, we experienced other spiritual warfare in Dallas – but Jesus won! Praise God that Christ gives the victory (1 Corinthians 15:57), and if God be for us, who can be against us? (Romans 8:31)

One of the worst challenges was the evening of the dress rehearsal. After I applied my stage eye makeup, somewhat closer to the lash line than usual because of the character I portrayed, I had a mild stinging and irritation in my eyes, but thought it would go away. During the evening it developed into an allergic reaction to eye makeup so extreme that both eyes turned crimson.

I experienced the worst eye pain I had ever felt, even worse than the pain of corneal abrasion or of eye infections I had had before. I actually felt like tiny knives were gouging out my eyes! During the last dance we rehearsed that evening, tears were streaming down my cheeks, and I could no longer bear to even look into the light, so that I danced much of it with my eyes closed. Afterwards brothers and sisters in Christ spontaneously gathered around to lay their hands on my shoulders and pray for me (James 5:15).

One cast member who suffered from ragweed allergy offered me an antihistamine, which I accepted gratefully in hopes that it would begin to address the problem. Another offered to call her eye doctor, but I knew that they would not prescribe anything over the phone, especially for a patient they had never seen. She offered to take me to the Walk-In Clinic the next morning, but we would not be able to do that and still make our early morning call for the first matinee.

That night the unrelenting, intense pain kept me awake, although the antihistamine seemed to help a little. As a retired physician, I knew that what I really needed was steroid eye drops. Yet my license has long been inactive, so I could not prescribe them for myself, and I knew that no doctor would prescribe them without seeing me. “Please, Lord – send me some steroid eye drops!” I begged through the night. 

The next morning, at a group meeting before the show, a cast member who had not yet spoken to me during this trip came up to me. “Would you like some steroid eye drops?” she asked, unaware that this was the very specific answer to prayer I sought.

What an amazing blessing! I instilled the drops at noon, and by the 2PM show, I was no longer in pain and the redness had lessened. I was even able to apply some eye makeup, so that my facial expressions would be visible from the stage, although I was very careful to steer clear of the lash line!

For all the shows, however, I was unable to wear my contact lenses, and I am legally blind without them! New prayer circles began forming around me, now asking God to allow me sufficiently clear vision to not fall off the stage or to miss the overhead lifts my husband Richard and I do, and to give Richard the discernment to lead me through these challenging moves.

Once again, God answered this specific prayer, and I pray and believe that He was glorified in our dancing and lift work. The Meet-and-Greet after each show gave us the opportunity, when complimented on our dancing, to give Him all the glory, because the only way we can do anything is by His grace!

The night after the first show, I prayed that He would give His beloved sleep (Psalm 127:2), to restore us after this painful ordeal that had deprived us both of sleep that is much needed for this physically demanding work, especially since Richard is now 70 years old!

He answered that prayer exceedingly abundantly (Ephesians 3:20), for we went to bed at 9:30PM, and before we knew it, it was 8:30AM --- eleven hours of uninterrupted sleep! Neither of us has slept that long or that soundly since we were teenagers!

We prayed for a good night’s sleep the following night also, because the next day we had a matinee and evening show – four strenuous dances in total, and we were both still emotionally as well as physically exhausted. But Satan had other plans, which, of course, could not have happened unless God permitted it for reasons we don’t understand, for our ultimate good and His ultimate glory. 

At 6AM we heard an incredible racket right outside our hotel room window – loudspeaker announcements, tribal chanting, and even the National Anthem! It turned out this was a street festival, making sleep impossible, which blared on until 9AM, when we had to get up or we would have been late for the show! Then it stopped as suddenly and as inexplicably as it began.

Despite our lack of sleep, our performances in the matinee went very smoothly, although I was still fearful in those moments in which we entered the wings. The contrast between the bright hallway lights, and the nearly black wings made it even more difficult to see, and I navigated my starting position and connections to Richard by kinesthetic sense and trust rather than sight (2 Corinthians 5:7).

But in the time between the matinee and evening show, Richard had developed chest congestion and lack of stamina, which had started with uncontrollable sneezing the moment we arrived in Dallas and progressed to a dry cough. So, when fellow Christians asked how I was feeling, I replied that I was better, but that now we needed to pray for Richard.

Then Richard was immediately bathed in prayer that he would be able to breathe freely and to have the strength and stamina needed for our dancing. God graciously answered those prayers, for His grace is sufficient and His strength is made perfect in our weakness (2 Corinthians 12:9).

As we danced, I knew that it was a struggle for Richard. Yet we danced smoothly, beautifully, and seemingly effortlessly, according to those who commented on it, and I knew that it was only by God’s grace and not at all in the flesh. Afterwards Richard told me that he prayed before and after each lift, thanking God for the move just accomplished and asking Him to uplift the move to come.

Praise God, He allowed us to finish strong, and our dances in the last show on Sunday also went flawlessly. As we thanked God, Richard also asked Him that we would have an opportunity for much needed rest and recuperation.

God also answered that prayer, but not in the way we had hoped. By the time we returned to Tampa, Richard’s respiratory infection totally drained him of all energy and he was unable to get out of bed. A few days later, I developed similar symptoms, and he was diagnosed with bronchitis and I with pneumonia. Now we are involuntarily resting, while praying for rapid and complete healing to be able to resume our ministries and service to Him.

But we praise God even in the trials (1 Thessalonians 5:18; Philippians 4:12) for the valuable lessons He has brought us, including greater reliance on Him and compassion for others (1 Peter 3:8). We praise Him not only for allowing us to be the recipient of prayer, but for the privilege of praying for others in the cast, for physical issues including ankle sprain and laryngitis, memory lapses, and artistic issues including music and staging.

God is so good, all the time! (Psalm 145:3) He has promised that if we ask, it will be granted unto us (Matthew 7:7), perhaps not in the way we had hoped, but always with His perfect solution. May we ask Him not only for ourselves, but for fellow prayer warriors (Romans 15:1-7), and that His perfect will be done! 

© 2017 Laurie Collett



Brenda said...

Praise God Laurie that your prayers have been answered, it is very true that along with prayer we must participate in our brothers and sisters needs. I pray that your rest will be filled with the peace of the Lord and that your husband will recover fully and very soon from the ill health he has been suffering.
God bless you all as you join together as one in Christ.

Laurie Collett said...

Dear Brenda,
Praise God for His faithfulness! Richard is about 75% better, but I am recovering far more slowly from the pneumonia. God's timing is always perfect and we trust Him for complete healing. Thank you for your comment and prayers.
God bless you,

Brenda said...

Laurie, as I read your comment the words 'You shall be healed' came into my mind very strongly.
God bless you Laurie as all the promises of God are in our Lord Jesus.

Laurie Collett said...

Amen, Brenda, for your powerful confirmation! God bless you too.

Frank E. Blasi said...

Dear Laurie,
This is a good testimony on how your husband and yourself had, though prayer, overcome your health issues which posed a threat to your coming performance. This is in good contrast to the attitude of many Christians (probably including myself here) who would have wallowed in self pity and wondered why God was not on their side.
And I apologise for not reading this blog until now. Last week we were away in Paris to celebrate our wedding anniversary - much featured on my latest post.
A excellent post. God bless.

Laurie Collett said...

Dear Frank,
Thank you for your encouragement. Praise God that His ways and thoughts are higher than ours. Unfortunately from our limited viewpoint, the saga of our health issues did not stop here, as I wrote about in my most recent post. But God is always in control and doing what is best for us. Happy Anniversary to you and Alex, and God bless,