The Sweetest Sunday



Sunday we had our first thunderstorm of the year, and the rain pounded the pavement as it descended from the clouds. It turned dark outside and the street lights turned on even though it was the middle of the day. Our afternoon and evening plans may have been hampered, but not before we had an incredible morning.

It was a typical Sunday morning for us as we packed up and headed to church. I’ve started reading another book (this one on God speaking to us through dreams) and nestled into the pew to read it while the worship team rehearsed before service. I know I’m not alone when I sit in the middle of the auditorium reading, but in those moments before church starts and the worship team plays their music as I’m reading whatever current book I’ve got before me, it’s one of my happy places. It’s one of my solitary worship moments. This Sunday, though, I was feeling slightly oppressed.

I couldn’t put my finger on it, but I started praying, “What, Lord? Why do I feel this way?” I couldn’t discern it, even as I read my book on all the ways God has answered other people in their dreams and visions. At one point, close to starting time, I turned around.

Sitting in her wheelchair in the back was Joan. The wife of our adult discipleship pastor, she recently was diagnosed with ALS and her physical function has been deteriorating.

Joan is one of the sweetest – no – she is thee sweetest human being on earth. She’s cooked us meals, prayed for us, given us caring counsel in our trying times. Her heart beats true love for everyone she encounters. Since her diagnosis, she hasn’t been able to make it to church on Sunday. It’s been weeks, months even, since we’ve seen her.

And there she was, surrounded by people who wanted to let her know how happy they were to see her. It wasn’t until after church I got my chance.

As we were walking out, I snuck in and gave her a kiss on her cheek and a hug and told her I was so glad to see her, and I loved her.

She looked at me, smiling, and said, “Hi Miss Val! I prayed for you on the 10th.”

Even typing those words, I’m crying. My eyes welled up immediately. “Oh Joan, thank you…” I started. She continued speaking slowly making great effort on each word, “God is using you. You’re ministering to so many people. I know sometimes we wonder why He can’t use someone else. But He is using you. I didn’t mean to make you cry.”

I chuckled as I hugged and kissed her again. Here she was, in her church home for the first time in months. I wanted to show her love and appreciation and she was ministering to me. I couldn’t speak. “You’re a tender heart. Tender heart.” she said.

“I love you, Joan. And I won’t stop praying for you.” I managed to say. I started the morning feeling funky, as we say, but I ended it feeling humbled and honored. There was no oppressive feeling as I walked out of the doors of church.

This year was the first year I’ve felt I’ve been able to process things about losing Harlynn. The first year, I was in the hospital doped up on magnesium, stopping Little Man’s labor. The second year, I was working for several clients with several deadlines and had an 11 month old, and had about a 24-hour window to work through the emotions I needed to. This year, the anniversary of her death fell over a weekend. I was home, with my family, and able to work through and feel completely, everything I needed to. It was a tremendously different experience, and one I so desperately needed.

Working up to it, however, I was anxious. I wasn’t sure how I would feel or act. I wasn’t sure what the weekend had in store for me. I requested prayer each week leading up to the 10th, that we would handle it well. That we would be a good witness. That we could do what we needed to in grace. And Joan, from her heart and home, was praying for us. Everything she has been facing and dealing with, she went before God for us.

I love that woman. She’s helped us and nurtured us in so many ways, I’d never be able to repay her if I tried. I love her, and I won’t stop praying for her.

Her prayers were answered for us, I’m sure. I can’t cook as well and I’m not even half as sweet as her, but I can do one thing with confidence: I can pray for her.

And I’d love it if you would pray for her, too.