Thursday, September 17, 2009

Prayer Among the Palm Trees

June 1998.
My hotel room.
St. Simon's Island, Georgia.

I am 33.

I toss my suitcase on the bed and make my way to open heavy blinds and turn on the A/C, the stuffiness of the room mirroring my heaviness of heart.

Vacationing solo, I have arrived at a writers' conference on this quaint Georgian island, as loaded with Spanish Moss and Kudzu as it is with antebellum homes.

But I'm not excited to be here.

I know that when I get home after this week away, I will break up with my boyfriend of two years. He is Jewish. We have reached an impasse in our relationship. He feels that if we get married and have children, we should not discuss Jesus with them.

I feel oppositely.

So here I stand in my conference hotel room, with a week of solitude looming, and dreading the pain I'll feel when the relationship has finally been severed.

Music fills my mind -- a tune of sheer grief. I've never actually heard this song before ... it's something that my mind has conjured suddenly all on its own. It's as if my soul has transformed into the music itself, that I am the music personified. It bathes me in my sadness.

I stare at the palm trees. They bend in the oven-like wind. I focus on the swaying palms and dwell on the time when Jesus marched into Jerusalem on a donkey, while people waved palms in His face and hailed Him as King. I ask myself, "Am I willing to put Him back on his throne, make Him King in my life again?"

I am. I pray among the palm trees.

"I know it's not possible for me to stay in this relationship. If I do, I will always doubt any decision he makes for You. I will always wonder. If he tells me in the future that he has changed and is now a Christian, I will doubt it. I would rather spend a lifetime apart from him, knowing that my distance from him might someday help him to give his life to you, unreservedly. I am in the way right now. I am his hurdle. I will remove myself from his life completely, in the hopes that someday he will find You."

And I do. I end it on my return home.

I tell him I will never marry him. But I keep the reason to myself. Giving him the reason will further be an impediment for his belief.

I would rather be alone for the rest of my life than allow that to happen.

And I pray. I pray for a decade. Each time my old boyfriend comes to mind, I pray that he will not die before he meets Jesus. I plead for his salvation. We are apart for good on this earth, but I have not let go of pleading his case before God's throne.

Eleven Years and Two Months Later.
My home.
Harrodsburg, Kentucky.

I am 44.

I'm happily married now. My husband loves Jesus, and we lavish our faith and love on our 6-year-old son.

But within the past week, I have had Internet correspondence with my old boyfriend. He found me on Facebook and then saw me post a note that my pastor would give a very special talk: "What happens 30 seconds after you die?"

So on Sunday, he logged onto the church Web site and watched live. He chatted with online moderators about the meaning of the message. When it was over, he emailed several questions.

This morning, he told me he was ready to give his heart to Jesus.

I close my computer laptop, my hands shaking.

Did this really just happen?

It did.

And the best part is ... it happened without my pressure or cajoling. It happened without my presence in his life. It happened just as I had hoped it would -- a full and complete submission to the heart of Jesus, sans me.

It happened.

Tonight my friend goes to bed, covered in the amazing love of Jesus, his sins washed clean. Tonight I can sleep for the first time in 11 years, knowing that God is faithful, even in circumstances that may seem dark and ominous.

Look at what He just did.

I saw my prayer among the palm trees answered today. I was able to move on with life. I was able to meet my husband, the man of my dreams, and receive the golden gift of a child. The blessings have been ten-fold since then.

And now I have a new blessing for which to be thankful: my friend's salvation.

Is someone in your life who needs to know Him? Don't give up hope. Keep praying. Keep the faith. Don't stop. Even if you are miles apart emotionally and physically, remember the reason you cared for them in the first place.

So what about you and the people in your life who don't know Jesus? How can I pray for them?

How can I pray for you today?


  1. OH MY GOODNESS Heidi!!!

    I am reading this and my hope level increses with every word...Jesus is showing me more and more people around me who don't have a clue about HIM. They are lost and hurting and unsure...and I feel that for them. My heart longs for them to have the same thing that we have in our hearts. Sometimes I feel as though I am walking around with this HUGE, LIFE CHANGING present in my hands - which I do - but the enormity of the gift I have in my hands for people is overwelming (in a good way!) - I understand how you could pray for him for 11 years - and how your heart must be OVERFLOWING with thankfulness and faith adn hope - and NOW those things are pouring out of my heart because of your story. THIS is church - THIS is how he meant it to be - I can't get over he does things in one's life and that thing pours into others lives. I PRAY that all who read your blog will borrow HOPE and FAITH in a LOVING GOD for their "11 year people" - I know my heart is beating faster and harder for MINE...

    THANK YOU Heidi - THANK YOU so much for that and I AM PRAISING JESUS FOR HIM RIGHT NOW!!!!!!

    What a mighty GOD we serve - HOW faithful - HOW GOOD - HOW loving..:) :) PRaise him for your "11 year person" ;)

    LOVE YOU!!!!

  2. Powerful post Heidi! I love the transition of eleven years... and the faithfulness of God therein. This is a rock of remembrance for you, a "thus far the Lord has brought me". I pray for your friend this night and for the continuing tracing of God's hand in all of our lives as we look back, remember, and count God faithful all the more!


  3. Response to Anonymous:

    Comment rejected.

    My response: Matthew 7:1.

  4. PS, and despite the fact that you think you've figured me out psychologically, I must say that you presume too much.

    Let's be logical here for a minute. If I were intending on having an affair or were at all ashamed of the contact with an old flame after 11 years, do you think I would have blogged about it so that the entire world could read it, including my husband? By the way ... he knows the entire story and even more than that. I hide nothing because I am not guilty of anything.

  5. ONLY here to help .....
    ..i know what your capable of doing because i know what is inside you ..your broken emotionally..a little girl in a womans body've filled your life with distractions in an attempt to escape the pain of a wounded psyche but even the distractions soon lose their effectivness and so its on to next "new thing" that will divert attention from introspection and HONEST personal inventory and provide a means of escape..the danger heidi is that you will become obsessed/addicted to the "distractions" .the recurring patterns in your life will only continue to repeat endlessly until you say "No More!"...i was disturbed when you announced that you would "sacrifice" your house on the market..not because you were moving..but because i recognize the pattern of upheavel from your childhood and how it will now continue on through your son....