A Prayer Answered
I came from a traditional Chinese family which is assiduous in ancestral worship. It is a ritual that has been passed on from previous generations to show honor to our forefathers. So it was a huge disappointment to my parents after I became a Christian and refused to participate in this practice. To them I have disobeyed and betrayed the family. It took them many years to accept that Christianity is not just a passing fancy and I am serious with my “religion”.
I was told in the early years by my mother not to influence anyone else in the family with ‘my’ Jesus; it is a warning that has been hanging over my head like a cloud. In my own mind I figured that if I could lead my parents to the Lord then it will be safe for me to evangelize the rest of my family. I was holding on to the promise from Acts 16:31
“Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved—you and your household.”
For over 38 years I have prayed for salvation for my parents, and God will give this family another Christian. Sadly, my father passed away 27 years ago. Even though I did have the opportunity to talk to him about Christ, the end result was quite ambiguous and I could only leave it in His hands. My mother‘s heart on the other hand was still very hardened, and at one time she had proclaimed “I’d rather go to hell then believe in Jesus!” Her rejection made me felt defeated and discouraged. Every time when I heard how God answered someone’s prayer for their parents I felt sad that He does not answer mine. I could not understand why He would not listen to my prayers for my family. Am I good enough? Is my faith not strong enough?
When I heard that mom was not doing well a few weeks ago, I flew out immediately to be with her. We thought that she would not survive the week. On the flight I had pleaded with God to give me one more chance to talk to her about Jesus. Throughout the recent years, I have suspected that even she was vehemently against the faith; somehow she believes the existence of God and His power. Why? For during the times when I was shaken by life circumstances she would tell me to pray and trust God. And many years ago when we almost lost my youngest daughter in the mall, she had cried out to Jesus for help. It appears she knows that Jesus can help in life’s most difficult situation and yet she refuses to have Him in her life.
During the week of my visit, she was in a lot of pain and discomfort. Her grandchildren would be around to spend as much time as they could. I could hardly find the appropriate time to have this pressing conversation with her. Finally on the day of my departure, I prayed and asked God to give me one more chance to spend some alone time with her. I knew that I would regret forever if I had not done so. God answered my request, and just moments before the rest of her grandchildren came to see her, I was able to share from my heart. I told her that many people from church have been praying for her. But the most important prayer need to come from her, as she needs Jesus in her life. I reminded her how much her late son-in-law and I have wanted her to have Jesus in her life, as He is the only one who can give her peace and comfort. Mom was receptive and we left the matter as it was when others started to show up. I had peace, at least for that moment. But after I came home, I started to have second thoughts. There were so many “could haves”, “should haves”, somehow I felt that I have not done enough. But then God took care of my doubts in the most amazing way:
During the early stage of her illness, when the family was trying to come to grip with this crisis, my sister-in-law decided to leave her husband because of unresolved marital problems. This could not come at a worse time when the family is under such duress. Mom took it really hard, and evidently this turn of event added more pain to her emotionally. When I heard about this, I was very angry. The anger has well consumed me and kept me up at nights. But during the time when I was visiting mom, the Spirit touched me in an unexplainable way. I know that it takes two to tango, and there is more to this situation than I can perceive. I know it is not my place to judge, and even though I am angry, I need to reach out to my sister-in-law as one human to another as God wants us to love others.
My sister-in-law has come back to Canada and is living in a small town on her own for the time being. I had to pester my nieces in order to get her number. And I called her up the next night after I came home. We talked on the phone for almost two hours. I started the conversation by asking how she is doing, and updating her with mom’s situation. Never once did I ask what had incurred between the two of them. I did however in the course of my conversation mention that I am praying that mom will no longer suffer. And at the mention of prayer, she suddenly took the conversation down a different path by telling me she has been searching and has known Jesus for quite some time. This totally blew my mind, for all these years she has never once mentioned Jesus in our conversations! Apparently her mom on her death-bed accepted Jesus after she had read the testimonies of her late son and daughter-in-law, both had died from brain cancer. Because of the faith of these three people, the granddaughter in Australia has also accepted Christ! My sister-in-law said after their conversions she started her own search for Jesus, and now that she is on her own she has been going to worship, fellowship and has had meaningful conversations with the pastor. The turning point for her was what I had told her how I overcame the sudden death of my husband and found the strength to go on. I had said that the reason is because of Jesus in my life. That brief conversation has basically changed her mind and steered her towards Him. Who could have known that such a brief statement would make a big difference in a life!
She told me even though she understands the love and the greatness of God; she is still hesitant to confess her faith. She knows and understands that as a Christian she will not be able to carry out the ritual as demanded by the family. She feels torn between her faith and the tradition. This made me think of my mom, and I realized that she too has lived in this tension. The only thing I could tell her is not to let tradition becomes a millstone around her neck, and a stumbling block to Jesus. I told her God looks at our hearts and He sees and understands our struggles. I encouraged her not to stop going to Jesus, and to trust that He will show her what her next step is.
She also started to pour her heart out about the problems she has been experiencing with my brother. I told her that I cannot judge, nor take sides but rather pray that God will change my brother and their situation. I told her that whereas humans are powerless to change another God surely is able. God does work in mysterious ways that our human minds cannot understand! And the fact that He answered my prayers of 38 years showed that He does listen to the cries of His children. I told her that I am so happy and relieved to find out about her faith in Jesus, and if He was to take me home right away, I will die with a smile on my face!
After our phone conversation, I literally danced in the air ! My daughter figured that I have been under a lot of stress lately, and God wanted to encourage me with this amazing story! Yes, I am encouraged and over joyed, but most importantly are the lessons I have learned. I see God in a different light now! For years, with my own limited understanding, I have boxed Him in and so determined to have things rolled out in my own way that I almost missed Him in the process. I have learned that God has His own plans, and when prayers seemed unanswered it is His way of telling me to wait and rest in Him! God does not need me to complete a task, such as the case of leading mom and my family to Jesus, all He wants of me is my faithfulness. I am to do what I should do, and leave the rest in His capable hands! He has everything in control, and just because I cannot see it, it does not mean He has not listened!
Finally, I also learned that our worst enemy is this monster called “self”! If I had not been willing to let go of my anger, my pride and my sense of what is right and wrong, I would have been denied of this knowledge of answered prayer. The fact that I had taken the step to reach out to someone whom I was angry with, God blessed me with this precious gift. I discovered that God has silently worked in the background and called a person whom I least expected to Himself. He has answered my prayers of 38 years in the most amazing way!
“Glory to God in the Highest!”
I am filled with gratitude and I pray that this story will bring you hope and strengthen your faith as you wait patiently for your answers.