November 15, 2011

a once in a lifetime prayer

It was just around 2 years ago our pastor challenged us, his sheep, to pray a simple prayer.

"Lord, please do something big in my life and make it obvious You were the one who did it."

I wrote that prayer down on the church bulletin, brought it home, and thought about it. Visions of sugar plums danced in my head. I could only imagine something wonderful, and sweet and miraculous coming as a result of saying those words to God, so I prayed them. Then I forgot all about that prayer. God didn't. I have no doubt He heard it. (can you hear me sighing?)

To make a long story short, my back went out. I had a herniated disc which led to a smooshed sciatic nerve in my left leg, which led to horrendous pain, which led to back surgery, which led to 15 months (and counting) recovery time; my left leg still bothers me frequently. My surgeon was baffled when he looked at the MRI and x-rays. He said there was no sign of osteoporosis, no sign of arthritis, no sign of anything that would cause the herniation. (I should've told him it was an answer to prayer.)

Anyway...many, many, many years ago I heard a sermon on sheep. Apparently they are very stubborn, independent, prone to disease, and have been known to make stupid choices a thing of habit. The speaker said that when a shepherd has a sheep that's being particularly sheepish, he will gently, tenderly kneel over his sheep and break her leg. Then the shepherd will bind the leg, pick up the sheep, and tie her to his chest. He will carry that sheep with him, everywhere he goes, until that leg heals. The purpose? The sheep gets to know the shepherd intimately. She smells the shepherd's breath, feels his heart beating away in his chest, becomes intimately acquainted with his voice, and feels his warmth and caring day in and day out. Then, finally, one day, the leg is healed and the sheep is free.

The shepherd hopes that by now his little sheep has learned that being stubborn, independent and stupid is not the way to go. He hopes that the sheep has learned to trust him; to know that no matter what happens she is loved and will be cared for. He trusts that by spending all that time in the shepherd's arms the sheep will crave his company and will stop being so sheepish.

I have since googled this information, trying to find out if shepherds really do break a sheep's leg, or if they ever did, maybe in ancient times? I couldn't find anything that proves this has ever happened.

However, I still love the story, true or not. And, like that sheep, I have learned so, so much. I could literally write a book about it all....I asked my husband if he's noticed a change in me since all this began. He says he has. He says my faith is stronger, I'm less stubborn, more feminine, more vulnerable and compassionate, more open to the Lord and less independent and prideful than I've been in days past. We both know I'm not perfect, but we've both noticed some improvement in my character and in my relationship to our Shepherd.

The last 2 years were an unexpected answer to a prayer. My broken, bruised leg has been used to teach me many lessons. It's been an exhausting and confusing time. Wonderful, sweet, miraculous things have come from it all; really, really wonderful things....(If you're interested, I wrote a bit more about all of this here and here.)

But, would I ever, ever pray that prayer again? Just between you and me? I don't think so. It's been worth it, but...nope. I'm just not sure I'll ever utter those words to my Shepherd again....I'm not sure I have the courage....
would you?

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