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Saturday, October 17, 2015

Just Another Game?

The day began like every other weekday. Later, I’d realize I’d failed to recognize the spark of something big. My mind focused only on lunch prep for my three foster girls, the two regular daytime charges, and the two drop-ins. I had about fifteen minutes before Baby Susie* awoke from her morning nap and wanted to be fed. Kids and spiritual stuff hadn’t entered my thoughts at all.

“I don’t feel good,” said three-year-old Sherry* rubbing her tee-shirt clad tummy.

The rest of the children gathered around my legs; clearly, they expected me to do something.

“When did you get sick, Sherry?” I breathed a sigh of relief that she’d not yet eaten lunch at our house.

“I dunno. My tummy hurts.” Sherry’s bottom lip trembled as tears dropped down her cheeks.

“You gotta call her Mom,” said Danny*. “She could die right here.”

The youngsters gasped in unison at the overly dramatic little tow-head’s assessment of the situation.

“Danny, Sherry isn’t that sick. She doesn’t even have a fever.” I spoke while touching the little girl’s forehead with the back of my hand.

“Sherry, would you like us to pray for you before I phone your mother? Maybe Jesus will make your tummy feel better so your Mom can finish work.”

Nodding her head, Sherry grabbed on to my hand. “Let’s go in the living room, kids. We can all pray for Sherry.”

The children nearly toppled me over in their rush to get into the other room. As Sherry and I approached the sofa, Jamie* pulled her blue youth chair away from the dining table.

“Her sit in Jamie’s chair. As the other children voiced their loud agreement, the small patient climbed into the higher chair.

I stood before Sherry, putting her petite, soft hand in mine. Four-year-old Deni* gently laid her hand on her young friend’s shoulder, giving instructions to the other members of the group “You put your hand on her arm or shoulder like me. That’s how we pray for sick people.”

Now I understood why the two-year-old offered her chair to Sherry. It made it easier for the children to reach her. I smiled as each preschooler took his or her place around the sick child. I had no idea the girls had noticed we followed this practice when praying for people in our Bible Study group at a friend’s house.

When I finished praying, all the kids shouted, “Amen!”

“So, you better, or are ya gonna—“

Sherry’s exclamation and smile interrupted what would most likely have been another ominous prediction by Danny. Sliding off the chair, the pretty blond girl delighted us all. “My tummy got all warm and then it didn’t hurt no more! When’s lunch; I’m hungry.”

“I’m fixing lunch right now. Before you all run off, we need to thank the Lord for touching Sherry’s tummy. Always remember to say thank you.”

Deni and Jamie grabbed on to the hands on each side of them, as did I. What a joy to listen to little ones whispering, “Thanks, Jesus and tank you, God.”

For the next few days, the children put the Prayer Chair, as they now called Jamie’s youth chair, to use—bringing scrapes and owies of all kinds to the Lord. Since the occasions of need often came at a time my hands occupied cookie dough, or changing diapers, their request to “do it ourselves,” relieved me of frequent interruptions.

Wherever I happened to be, I strained to listen to the brief prayers around the child in the blue chair, always followed by a chorus of whispered expressions of gratitude. Some days I wondered if praying for the sick or injured had become a game; they did it so frequently. Then Shannon slammed her hand in the screen door.

*Names changed.

Y’all come back next Saturday for the exciting conclusion… Have a great week!

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