Today at church our pastor was teaching us about prayer.  It led to a conversation with someone after church, whom I only know in passing.  A conversation that stayed with me through lunch, through folding laundry, vacuuming and through writing this post.  What I learned may only be for me, but I felt it was insightful enough to share.

Her story:

She was diagnosed with cancer. It was bad – bad enough to lead her to that tiny hospital chapel to pray. On her knees, there in the dark she asked God for guidance. If she was going to die, help prepare her so she could go with dignity. It was one of those prayers where you put every ounce of your soul into it and stand up feeling completely wiped.

She walked out of the chapel into the hall to the nurses’ station that was unusually empty and then heard over the PA system “Code Blue in the chapel”. She knew she had been the only one in there just now.

At that point, my writers mind jumped to conclusions. I immediately thought she was describing an out-of-body experience. That she was still in the chapel, that this explained why there was no one in the hall or nurses station. But then she continued her story.

She went on to explain how she knew this was a sign from God; an answer to her prayer.

My mind’s story rewound and hit the delete button. She hadn’t died. This was not an out-of-body experience, it was a message from God.

Oh, but what a message!

Code Blue in the chapel? That was her message? That she was going to die? – That’s where my mind went next. God was preparing her for her own demise by giving her time to accept it, to get her affairs in order. That’s what I was thinking.

She instead, laughed.

She took it as God poking fun at her. Not in a bad way – but that of a loved one who shows you you’re being silly by fist-bumping your shoulder.  She took it as God saying “Hey silly, I’ve got this.”  This told her she was going to be fine.

It’s been five years. She just told me this story with a smile on her face and a full head of hair. God does answer prayers.

But then I thought of something, much later – I heard that message and jumped to the wrong conclusion.  If I were to have been in that predicament and taken it as ‘prepare yourself for the end’ I would have been devastated.  I would have been depressed.  I would have given up and let it happen.  I would not be here 5 years from now to tell my story because I wouldn’t have continued to fight it.

I began to wonder:
How many signs do we see but misconstrue.

turn-right-here-sLike this sign I just created. Glance at it as if you were driving and tell me which way you would go?

Would you have gone to the left or to the right?

The white sign says right but the yellow arrow points left. The sign didn’t say ‘Make a right turn here’ it wanted you to go left and coaxed you to turn right here. What was your perception of the message? How does it define your actions?

How often do we do that with God’s messages, our answered prayers? And that being said, how many of us are going back wondering if we got it right?


Isaiah 30:21Whether you turn to the right or to the left,
your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying,
“This is the way; walk in it.”  NIV