Tuesday, August 10, 2010
A short while ago, I went on a woman's retreat where I was blessed with being God's pawn in the making of a miracle! Remarkable, you might say--but I believe that He uses all of us constantly to do His work--we just need to be open to accepting His graces and doing His will.
First let me rewind to last Summer when our Pastor asked all of the parishioners to "spiritually adopt" an unborn child. The idea was for each person in our very large congregation to pray for just one baby for a period of nine months in the hope that their prayers would save that baby from being aborted. He passed out little prayer cards and asked each of us to pick a name and write that baby's name on the card and pray for that child every day. If we named our baby, it would really feel like we were praying for an individual instead of just a general prayer tossed in the direction of the unborn. I was at church with my son and when I fished around for a pen in my purse and wrote down a name on the card, he gave me a puzzled look and said, "Who is Benjamin?" That is the name I put down on my prayer card. I don't know why I chose a boy and I don't know why I picked the name Benjamin--I don't even know any "Benjamins" but that is the name that God placed on my heart and I wrote it down.
I taped my little prayer card to the front of my coffee maker and every morning I prayed for little Benjamin while I waited for my coffee to perk. I prayed that his mother would be strong and not resort to aborting her baby. I prayed that God would send her the mercy and support she would need to help her carry Benjamin to full term. I prayed that Benjamin would be born into a family that would love and want him and that his birth would bring great happiness to his parents and family or to an adopted family. After a few weeks of praying every morning, I began to wonder if one day Benjamin would know that some random stranger prayed for his life. I even asked God if one day in heaven, maybe Benjamin would come up to me and say, "hey, you prayed for me to be born and I had a wonderful life." I never doubted that he would be born, but I did long to know if I would ever find out what happened to him. Giving a name to this baby made it very personal to me and I grew to love Benjamin and loved praying for him. On Mother's Day, our church celebrated the "births" of all the babies that were spiritually adopted nine months earlier and it was wonderful to think that thousands of souls were probably saved through our collective prayers.
Now . . . fast forward to my retreat I mentioned earlier. On the first night of the retreat, this amazing group of 30 or so women gathered to start our journey together and spent time getting to know one another. I sat next to a beautiful young woman and we struck up a conversation with the usual small talk . . . "Where are you from? What do you do? How many children do you have?" We seemed connected in so many ways that we spent a great deal of time talking to one another. Before long, we started to share some very personal things with each other--mostly because we both had some common ground and also because we sensed trust and safety in confiding with one another. She told me she recently had a difficult time with her 18-year old son and I remember being shocked because she seemed so young herself. She told me that she was also a grandmother--sort of. Her son got a girl pregnant the past year and they had an unfathomable time with the two teenagers deciding what they would do about it. In the end, the couple decided to have the baby and give it up for adoption. I asked my new friend if this was difficult for her; knowing that she had a grandchild out there but she explained that as a family they all thought that this was the best possible decision for the baby. After all, her son and his girlfriend were still in high school and knew they could not raise a child and there were so many deserving families that longed to adopt. Her son and girlfriend did consider abortion, but knew that it was wrong and that this baby deserved a chance at life. She told me she was extremely anxious and worried when the baby was born because she wasn't sure she could go through with the adoption, however she told me that God placed a band-aid on all of their hearts that day because she was able to hold the baby when it was born, but was given the grace to know that they were making the right choice. It was a touching story and I was amazed that she knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that this was God's plan for them and for the baby. She was teary-eyed and wistful, but I could tell that she believed it was for the best. My heart ached for what she must have gone through and I admired her courage. Just in passing, I asked her the gender of the baby. "It was a boy," she said, "and we were able to name him for the adoptive parents. We named him Benjamin."
Benjamin! It was MY Benjamin, I just knew it. My new friend cocked her head and asked me, "Why do you look so shocked?" I burst into tears and shared with her my story of how I prayed for an unknown baby I named Benjamin. At that point, she too knew that I had been praying for her Benjamin! God had given me an amazing gift that evening--I saw first hand the power of his love and mercy. He saw to it that Benjamin made it into this world and made certain that he was born into the right family. Then He provided a person to personally pray for Benjamin and after all of that, He still gave me the gift of knowing what happened to my little guy! Needless to say, the tears were flowing that night and all of the other women at the retreat were stunned to see the two of us who had just met crying and hugging. A miracle brought us together as friends and now she and I both know that God has an amazing plan for little Benjamin!
"The miracle is not that we do this work, but that we are happy to do it." ~Mother Teresa