The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective.
I recently accompanied my mom to a memorial service back in Oregon. Listening to the pastor’s words, I was struck by how much her friend had loved to spend time with his family. I had been urging my mom to fly back to Austin with me but she remained adamant against coming. Yet as I sat there on the church pew, I sensed the Holy Spirit telling me to buy her a ticket – and to buy it NOW. So I reached for my phone and quickly texted directives to my oldest daughter. By the end of the service, my mom had a ticket on my return flight to Austin the very next day.
Now to make it happen was another matter.
My heart beat with both excitement and trepidation. My mom is a stubborn, fiercely independent woman full of “sisu” (Finnish for persistent resilience) who doesn’t want to be forced into anything. That evening when she was not looking, I packed her bag and secretly tucked it away in the trunk of my car. When we took off for the airport the next morning, she merely assumed she was seeing me off with my sister. Opposed to flying anywhere, the resulting scene at the baggage counter was very messy. At least the conversation was in Finnish. She cried and I cried. Neither of us budged. After 45 minutes of pleading and demanding, she surprisingly gave in. We were both checked in literally at the last minute!
The inconceivable had happened. My mom was coming to visit in Austin.
Why did it matter so much to me that my mom, who suffers with Alzheimer’s, come home with me for a week? The easiest thing would have been to let her have her way. She requires constant attention and conversations are the same ones repeated over and over. My schedule for the next week was already very jam-packed. But the conviction, welling up inside, kept me insisting.
And what a week it was. Not only did she enjoy the week, and returned with many pictures to remind her of the trip, she blessed us in many ways. A highlight was the completion of our new pool, made possible because of the sale of a family condo purchased years ago by my dad and her. She felt both pride and joy in watching the great grand kids jump in for the first time!
The week was exhausting for sure and at the same time deeply touching and inspiring.
While I don’t know when she will draw her last breath, I sense God is preparing to take her home. I am reminded that “precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of His saints.” (Psalm 116:15) Still she remains to me an inspiration to pray. Prayer keeps her light burning in the face of an increasing darkness around her. She is keenly aware of her diminishing skills yet her spirit can still powerfully and eloquently commune with heaven.
Numerous times each day, she would recite, in her native tongue, both Psalm 23 and the Lord’s Prayer. With eyes tightly closed and her face tilted toward heaven, she would passionately plead the prayer Jesus modeled in his Sermon on the Mount. Morning, noon and night she would find me and ask if we had prayed yet. I learned to stop what I was doing, grab her small hands and pray with her again. She clings to those long ago memorized prayers and scriptures imprinted in her heart. These alone ease the anxiety she feels as she loses a grip on the world around her.
I also noticed a growing tenderness of spirit in my mom.
She would readily weep both out of joy and out of sorrow. Sweet moments would often bring tears of joy. Concerns for others would also bring intercessory tears of sorrow. On Good Friday, each time she considered the significance of the day, she freely wept over how Jesus suffered on her behalf.
She remains my “prayer warrior” mom. I pray that my children will have the same to say about me. I am grateful for the reminder again this week that no matter how busy and full my daily agenda is, I must pause to turn my gaze upward and thus see what really matters here on earth. She may be growing more confused and forgetful but the eyes of her heart still see clearly as she turns her gaze towards heaven.
Thank you mom for the gift of this past week. Thank you for the sweet moments with you and for the many, many times we held hands to pray through each day. Not only did it steady you but it inspired me. I promise to never forget the lessons about prayer you have taught and modeled for me. And I promise daily to hold hands with you, either in person or over the phone, and offer up prayers together to our Father In Heaven until He takes you home