It recently chinooked in Calgary – right now it doesn’t feel anything like January…more like March. I won’t complain. The sunlight and the warmth does some good to my spirits.
I’ve been thinking about prayer and remembering a remarkable moment a couple of weeks ago that reminded that God is indeed Immanuel. With us. Here. Within me.
I was still in Argentina on a work trip and had plenty of time to think. It’s incredible how plucking ourselves out of the rat race, losing the over-consumptive, hyper-energetic, and much too busy lifestyle, can refresh faith. Such was the case with Buenos Aires. In the middle of the dusty, swirling, exciting capital I learned again how to pray.
Steve let me know that he was on a work trip again in the middle of Saskatchewan. It was last minute and he was frustrated. It’s hard to say no to work even when your brother and sister are visiting and you had plans weeks in advance. It looked like the long awaited cross-country skiing trip with his brother wouldn’t happen.
I don’t want to oversimplify prayer. I don’t want to make God look like a cosmic Santa Claus. But I do think that God knows deeply where we are, and knows the desires of our hearts. For Steve, the past few years have been a spiritual desert. Nothing tastes, looks, or feels like they do when you’re spiritually alive. I knew this time in the mountains with his brother was needed – a time of refreshing. Calm. Peace. Nature. God with man.
And so I prayed. And prayed. And prayed. Prayed with a fervor I haven’t had in a very long time. And something happened. The storm that had delayed the work progress for Steve cleared. One remarkably sunny day, and they were able to get all of their work done and drive the eight hours home. He could go on the trip with his brother.
But it doesn’t stop there. I sensed something was happening. Thousands and thousands of miles away, I sensed that Steve and his brother needed the safety and presence of God like never before. So I continued to pray on that Friday and Saturday. For safety. For protection.
I found out, only after I got home, that an emergency had been evaded – those prayers I so fervently lifted up were listened to…not answered in the way I would have hoped, but God was there.
After hours of cross-country skiing in poor equipment, Steve and his brother made it to the backcountry cabin they had set out for. When Rob, Steve’s brother removed his shoes, his feet were solid blocks of ice. Frost bite. Bad. As Rob’s feet started to thaw, the pain was excruciating. There was no way they would be able to leave the cabin on skis. So Steve looked at the map on the cabin’s wall and located a ranger station. He set out for the 1km ski. He got there. The cabin was locked.
Knowing there were few options, Steve broke in – banged one of the locks off the door with a rock. Inside he found obsolete radios that no one listens to or uses in the national park anymore. He decided to check them out anyways. Plugged into the solar panel. Hello, hello, can you hear me. Nothing. More nothing. After a half hour, he was ready to give up when he heard a voice. Another ranger station picked up the call for help. Deployed a helicopter. Steve and Rob were med-evacuated out of the back country cabin to the nearest hospital where Rob was treated for 2nd degree frostbite.
Rob’s feet still aren’t back to normal. We wait to see what the cosmetic surgeon’s final words will be about losing any parts of his toes and feet. But they are alive. And it has been a humbling process to learn how to pray, with the believe and the trust that God listens. For a long time I just didn’t know.