Gratitude for the hands of God

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Gratitude for the hands of God

February 10, 2012 -

When Ryan’s surgeon walked into our waiting room yesterday around noon, I could see on his face that he was pleased.  In fact, Dr. Oxford told us that surgery could not have gone better.  Ryan should come home from the hospital later today.  Lab results will be back in 5-7 days, determining if next steps are needed.

Today I must try to express my gratitude to you for your incredible intercession and support.  I’ve been led to do so from another insight I’ve never considered before today.  As you know, I’ve been exploring my favorite miracle with you this week.  This morning, let’s consider Peter’s near-death experience and its relevance for the challenges we face.

Jesus’ lead disciple was walking on the water to Jesus, but “when he saw the wind, he was afraid” and began to sink (Matthew 14:30a).  Then he did what any of us should do in a crisis: he cried out, “Lord, save me!” (v. 30b).  And “immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him” (v. 31).  Here’s the question that came to me today as I considered this event: why did Jesus reach out his hand to save Peter?  He could heal a centurion’s servant and calm storm-tossed waters with just his word (Matthew 8:13, 26).  Clearly, he did not need to touch Peter to save him.

Here’s my thought: Jesus touched Peter because that’s what Peter needed most in that terrifying moment.  Afraid he was drowning, he needed the physical assurance of his Lord’s presence and power.  Since Jesus is the same yesterday, today and forever (Hebrews 13:8), he can do today all that he has ever done.  He still reaches out his hands to catch those who are sinking in the storms of life.  But now we are those hands: “You are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it” (1 Corinthians 12:27).

Our family has felt the powerful hands of God in your ministry to us.  I spoke yesterday with a dear friend who called from Ireland, and prayed with a beloved pastor and his wife who called from Cuba.  Dr. Duane Brooks, Ryan and Candice’s wonderful pastor at Tallowood Baptist Church in Houston, drove from a meeting in Waco to Dallas just to be with them.  Jeff and Billie Byrd, our ministry partners for 24 years, spent the day with us.  Members of our ministry board and dear family friends were with us in the hospital.  We have received emails from friends who prayed for Ryan in the Garden of Gethsemane and in Hong Kong.  Notes and emails have come from staff colleagues and members from each church Janet and I have served.  We treasure each and every assurance of your prayers and thank God for your presence with us through this dark valley.

On the way home from the hospital yesterday afternoon, Janet and I stopped by the post office.  No one who saw us knew that our son had cancer surgery that morning.  Nor did we know what crises the people we encountered were facing.  In this fallen world, the only safe thing to do is to show God’s love to everyone we see.  The next person you meet may be drowning, and yours is the touch they need.  God works through his people–our family is proof.  Today we thank him for you.

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