My husband David and I were in Colorado Springs visiting our son when we received a call that my father had suffered a heart attack. We packed our bags and flew home a day early to be with him, knowing that a storm by the name of "Ike" was also threatening to make landfall in Texas two days later.
As we walked into our home from the airport, the phone rang. "Ok, let's get it," my husband said boldly as he hung up the phone. He turned to me and said, "Shannon that was the doctor. I have cancer."
My father, a hurricane, and now my husband. A feeling of numbness overtook me. It was as if my eyes wanted to explode with tears, but my stubbornness interceded. "Not now," I thought. This was no time for breaking down.
I quietly ascended the stairs and snuggled into my overstuffed "prayer chair." As I prepared to pour out my heart in formal declarations so that God would "really" hear me, the strangest thing happened. In place of eloquence came only four words: "God, I trust you."
Praying through hot tears for over an hour, the only words I could seem to whisper during my entire prayer time were the same: "God, I trust you."
Can't I come up with anything better than this? I thought. After all, these were larger than life situations that needed larger than life prayers. That's when I heard four more words in my heart: "Keep on pressing on." It was as if the coach of my team had just stepped up to home plate while I was at bat and whispered in my ear, "You can do it! I'm right here with you."
A sudden peace came over me I could not explain, and I knew the cries of my heart had been heard. My prayer had been far from eloquent, but my four-word prayer had touched the very heart of God. He reminded me He would never leave, and that I could press on through each dilemma if I would take every step in faith with Him.
In the following week, Hurricane Ike made landfall. We were left with only a few fallen branches. During that same week, David's surgeons located the origin of his cancer and recommended a treatment that would ultimately leave him cancer-free while my father received two stints that left him healthier than he had been in years.
In the weeks that followed, one question resurfaced from friends: "How did you handle all of that at one time?"
My response? "I didn't."
I had not handled any of it. I prayed a four-word prayer, and God did the rest. It sounds so simple, but it is so true. I found the answer in Isaiah 55:6 "Seek the Lord while He may be found. Call upon Him while He is near."
God's Word never said I had to know the perfect way to pray. It only says to, "seek Him and call on Him." That is what I did, and that is how I found the strength to press through each dilemma we faced. There was nothing special about my prayer, but it did come from the heart.
The result? God was faithful to His Word, and I saw Him do things as a result of my "hands off" approach. Not only did God allow me to see the amazing way He took over when I released the circumstances to Him, He also gave me a song to express what I experienced when I didn't know what to do. Each line serves as my continual reminder:
"When the going gets tough, keep on pressing on
When the road is rough, keep on moving on
With each step along the way, He will be your strength
You're not alone, He'll lead you home
Keep on Pressing On."
Life seldom turns out the way we plan it, but there are many moments in our lives when God gets to show up and show out. When you only have a four-word prayer, know that it is enough to move the very throne of God to action. Seek Him and call on His name. He will do the rest to help you press into the very place He has just for you.
July 3, 2010
Shannon Perry is a speaker/singer whose new If The Shoe Fits women's conferences combine her teaching prowess with her musical talent. Perry's new music CD entitled The Real Thing (produced by Lifeway writer/producer Paul Marino) features songs specifically written to fit in with the theme of the conferences. Perry wrote the bulk of the original presentation in hospital waiting rooms while her husband was undergoing cancer treatment. Perry earned her Master's Degree in Education with an emphasis in counseling and taught in the public school system for over fourteen years before entering into full-time ministry. She has previously-released music projects with both Daywind and Benson Records which garnered radio airplay on the national Christian charts. She has performed with the Houston Symphony and has even appeared at Carnegie Hall. She has been a featured soloist at the J&J Music Conferences in Houston, Texas, and led praise and worship at numerous women's conferences and for the national Lifeway conferences held annually in New Mexico and North Carolina. For more information, visit www.ShannonPerry.com