Catherine Marshall would have celebrated her 101st birthday last Saturday. Her wonderful books include A Man Called Peter, Beyond Ourselves, Christy and The Helper. A skinny little volume called Adventures in Prayer is my favorite. My copy is old and faded now, and the cover is long gone. Still, I learn something new every time I peruse its pages. I am often drawn to the chapter entitled, “The Prayer of Relinquishment.”
Catherine learned about the prayer of relinquishment while she was stuck in bed for six months with a lung infection. After countless petitions for renewed health, she prayed, “I’m beaten God. You decide what you want for me.” And she began to recover.
Years ago, I had to relinquish my son. During a routine check-up, the nurse put cold goop on my belly and slid a microphone around. Then she stopped talking and excused herself from the room. My doctor was out of town, but her partner came in, slid the microphone around again, and told me something was wrong with my baby’s heart. A specialist confirmed the bad news. I could even see the irregularity of my son’s heartbeats on the ultrasound. There was nothing we could do. No medicine I could take would fix the problem, and it was far too early to give birth.
Plans were made. When Tony was born, a team of specialists would be waiting to whisk him off to the neonatal intensive care unit. No one knew what would happen after that. All we could do was wait. And pray. And pray we did, enlisting the support of friends and family.
I had to say, “Whatever, Lord, your will be done.” It wasn’t the first time in my life that I’d prayed that prayer, but it had never been so difficult before. I wasn’t giving up. I didn’t stop caring. I still desperately wanted my son to be healthy, but I opened my hands and my heart to accept whatever my loving Father handed me. Relinquishment means saying to God, “Anything you decide will be all right with me, because I trust you.”
Catherine said, “Fear is like a screen erected between us and God.” When we face the hardest things in life with the confidence that God and his power are real, then fear fades. And my fear did fade.
I went back to the doctor. This time, my regular obstetrician was back in town. She did another ultrasound and said, “OK, it all looks good. ‘See you next time.”
I caught my breath and answered, “Uh, wait a minute. What about the heart problem?” It was a busy day, and the doctor hadn’t studied my chart before coming in. Her next words stunned me.
“What heart problems?” His heart was normal. The problems never showed up again.
God is enough. He is always enough. Even when he doesn’t give us what we ask, we can trust him to lead us through the darkest times.
Catherine once said, “God, who is the Author of creativity, is ready to make a dull life adventuresome the moment we allow him to go to work inside us.” May your adventure begin anew today!
This blog is adapted from the original story, “Thank You, Catherine Marshall,” which originally appeared in Plus magazine, and is used with permission from Guideposts. Copyright (c) 2014 by Guideposts. All rights reserved.