Wednesday, September 12, 2007

peter

I woke this morning with an old Amy Grant song in my mind. I've heard it literally countless times... the words are so engrained in my memory that I don't think reciting them in my sleep would be an issue for me. But this morning, they had a relevance and almost a power that I hadn't ever experienced. The song is called "Angels," and it describes Peter's trial in Acts 12 when he is thrown into prison by King Herod. I often wake up with random songs stuck in my head (usually something I heard on the radio the day before, and usually a total annoyance), but I genuinely felt like this was from the Lord. He knows that this song is familiar to me - it carries with it almost a balm for my soul, a reminder of childhood and innocence and a belief that was totally untainted by shattered expectations or sorrow. But I felt Him telling me that there was more to this than simply encouragement.

In the story of Peter's imprisonment, he is taken shortly after his friend, James, is murdered. He's thrown into a jail cell with 16 soldiers commanded to keep track of him. His public execution is 'on the books.' To say that things looked dire is to make a gross understatement. And yet, according to the Bible, "all the time Peter was under heavy guard in the jailhouse, the church prayed for him most strenuously" (12:5). The very night before his death was to take place, the Word says Peter "slept like a baby" (12:5) despite the fact that he was shackled to two guards. Shackled to them! Guards stood at the doors to the cell, too. "Herod was taking no chances!" (12:6b). I can't begin to do the rest of the story justice in my own words, so here is the translation found in the Message:

"Suddenly there was an angel at his side and light flooding the room. The angel shook Peter and got him up. 'Hurry!' The handcuffs fell off his wrists. The angel said, 'Get dressed. Put on your shoes.' Peter did it. Then, 'Grab your coat and let's get out of here.' Peter followed him, but didn't believe it was really an angel - he thought he was dreaming.

Past the first guard, and then the second, they came to the iron gate that led into the city. It swung open before them on its own, and they were out on the street, free as the breeze. At the first intersection, the angel left him, going his own way. That's when Peter realized it was no dream. 'I can't believe it - this really happened! The Master sent His angel and rescued me from Herod...' (12:7-11)."

Shortly thereafter, Peter goes to see some of the people who are gathered together praying for him. They are in such shock that they don't even believe it's possible; they tell the servant girl who hears his voice on the other side of the door that she's crazy, that she must be speaking with his angel. When they finally concede and open up, to find him standing there, in full physical form, they "{go] wild!" (12:16). That night was likely to be one of the most incredible that many of those believers would ever experience. The Word says that at daybreak, "the jail was in an uproar.... Herod sent for [Peter] and they could neither produce him nor explain why not" (12:18-19a).

I would normally avoid using so much Scripture. But I wanted to give you the full impact of this story because so much of it landed on my heart this morning as a specific reminder of many, many things. First of all, Peter's being prayed for the church "strenuously." I believe that, if I had the eyes to see, the amount of believers on their knees for Conor, Sellers, Copeland and I would floor me, literally throw me to the ground. I believe your prayers are sincere, heart-wrenching, gut-level gasps for the Father to do what He intends... but to protect us, to glorify Himself, and to give us strength to get through whatever He has in store. These were the prayers of the saints while Peter stood in chains, I'm sure. But some of you are praying the prayers that Conor and I haven't prayed as consistently. Some of you are praying that, despite the 99.9% accuracy rate of the tests performed, Copeland will be born healthy - that the Lord will literally break the chains of the medical evidence and lead us, "free as the breeze," into a life with her that is full and complete. Do I know for certain that the Lord intends to do this? No. I don't believe the saints praying for Peter that night had any certainty, either. Why else would they have remained convinced, until seeing him face-to-face, that his chances of survival were slim to none? And yet God worked a mighty, inexplicable, irrational, mathematically and scientifically impossible miracle for no other reason than to bring Himself glory. The fact that Peter slept as soundly as he did the night before his death tells me that the Lord had already given him a peace to accept the grim situation he was in. There was no agonizing over possible escape plans or how the Lord might intercede. Everything was left entirely up to Him. And I am sure that, had Peter been asked to give his life then, at the orders of King Herod, he would have done so as unflinchingly as he did when it was truly his time.

I pray that Conor and I can be like Peter. It's a stretch, I know, and an incredible set of shoes to fill, but I believe the Lord is preparing us to see His glory revealed in an amazing way. I pray that, even on the night before Copeland's birth, and the nights that perhaps follow in her life, if He chooses to give those to us, we will have restful sleep, with a peace that God's got this... no matter the outcome.

I pray that you can continue to lift us up, to pray as the saints did, "strenuously." I know that the Lord can and still may choose to perform a miracle that is beyond any of our current abilities to fully believe. I would ask that you pray He would, in fact, choose to do that. Pray because if anyone's faith is weak, too weak to "deserve" any outrageous power on her behalf, it's me. And yet I know there is no "deserving" in grace.

Conor and I walk into next week embracing the facts the Lord has given us. There are plenty of soldiers and quite a few iron gates in between our family and any kind of victory. And yet I also walk knowing that with your prayers and with a God who delights in working things out for his own purposes, there is much we will be discussing years from now about this week, in awe and wonder at His might and power, tenderness and love.

Pray for our steadfastness, that we will sleep like babies until then...

26 comments:

Melissa Platt said...

whenever i am afraid the song is like a mantra...'take this man to prison the man heard herod say' immediately begins playing in my mind. what a gift of simple truth from childhood that is! thank you for the reminders. i will continue to pray that you will be able to rest knowing that angels are watching over you. all four of you.

rebekah (anderson) wright said...

i have been reading your blog for the past several weeks and our family has prayed for your family each day. we will continue to pray even in the weeks to come. thank you for sharing your heart. you have truly been a witness of the Father already and I know that your precious daughter has touched many lives already and will continue to touch lives for Jesus.

Laurie said...

It is the very scriptures you posted today that confirm in my heart that my praying for a miracle is not asking for too much from the one who has tenderly and gently formed Copeland from day one. Do I know what the outcome will be? No. But I trust God for you. I know He loved this little baby so much, He trusted her to you and Conor. He planned her for you, He has blessed you with her. I just know this in my heart to be true. He knows the plans He has for you and I must tell you that you two are more like Peter than you know. Your faith shows it here. Peter didn't feel it either, but it didn't stop God from doing awsome things. I believe in asking God for His Best, and see what He does to bring glory to Himself. I pray for His peace and sweet rest to flow all around and through you in these blessed days ahead. Know you are loved and prayed for here in California. Laurie

Anonymous said...

Aquinas College is praying for you, your family, and your special gift.

nick, robyn and taylor said...

Know that even those who don't know y'all personally are praying on your behalf. I can't tell you how much your posts push me to the Lord. You sound like you have amazing faith.

Anonymous said...

We believe in miracles... The Lord performs miracles all the time. We are praying for the miracle of a healthy precious baby girl for you and your sweet family. I am with the host of believers who are standing in the gap and praying for you all. May the Lord's peace be with you and your family now and in the weeks to come
God Bless
A friend in Kingston Springs

Anonymous said...

Boothe-

I love you and I am so,so proud of you-we'll keep praying big. A couple of week ago, the sermon at church was on those verses you posted today-I'll start praying that God allows both you and Conor to sleep peacefully this next few nights knowing He is in control...and that the saints are praying for you while you are sleeping.
Cherry

gloria grace said...

boothe,
i just wanted to let you know that i am praying for you and the baby. may god bless you dearly. love, gracie v.

courtney said...

Boothe, Conor, Sellers and Copeland,

I don't think that I have seen you guys since the CPC/CCC Alliance days, but, I have been keeping up with your blog for the past couple of months. God has kept you and your sweet family on my heart and in my prayers. You all, and your story, have been an incredible witness to God's work within the body of Christ. Look at all of the comments from praying brothers and sisters! I pray for strength, mighty strength, from the Father for all of you. And I echo the prayers of the other believers who have posted before me. I pray that you can feel the prayers and lean on them for support and encouragement.

Anonymous said...

Jeremy Riddle - Sweetly Broken
From the album Sweetly Broken

To the cross I look, to the cross I cling
Of its suffering I do drink
Of its work I do sing

For on it my Savior both bruised and crushed
Showed that God is love
And God is just

Chorus:
At the cross You beckon me
You draw me gently to my knees, and I am
Lost for words, so lost in love,
I’m sweetly broken, wholly surrendered

What a priceless gift, undeserved life
Have I been given
Through Christ crucified

You’ve called me out of death
You’ve called me into life
And I was under Your wrath
Now through the cross I’m reconciled

Chorus:

In awe of the cross I must confess
How wondrous Your redeeming love and
How great is Your faithfulness

(2x’s)
Chorus:


Boothe...I love this song. When I was listening to it yesterday it made me think about you guys. It's great, try to download it if you don't know it already.
ali tanner

Anonymous said...

Boothe-

You probably don't remember me, but I taught Sellers in Kingdom Kids at Fellowship last year. I heard about your blog and I have been reading it over the last few weeks. Thank you for sharing your heart in this way. I will be praying for a miracle!

~Jamie Morgan

jen jen said...

Hello,
My name is Jennifer McCoy and I got your blog through a friend of mine. I too have been in your shoes 2 years ago our daughter was diagnosed with Trisomy 18 at 35 weeks and Sept. 28 will be two years ago. Her name was Alexis Bailey McCoy "Lexi" we called her. She was our first child and she lived for 2 wonderful hours with lots of family by her side and then was taken by angels to be with the Lord. My heart breaks for you at this time and I will have you in my prayers and lift you! Let me tell you that is the only thing that got me and my husband through that time. Looking back I don't know how we did it and how I remained sain but I think of the footprints poem how Jesus carries us through the tough times and he did! I was a labor and delivery nurse at the time and I didn't know how I could go on, but I did and shortly after Lexi was born, God gave me the strength and he has used me and my situation to help many people. I do believe in miracles and I pray that God will work a happy miracle for you! Please know that I am here if you want or need to talk with anyone at anytime! I will leave my email address for you jennifermccoy@gmail.com
I do have a happy ending though as I am sitting here looking at my precious 4 week old son that was prayed long and hard for! I beleive Lexi picked him out just for us but it still does not replace her and coming up on her 2nd birthday will be just as hard. Stay strong in your faith and believe in miracles the verse that I clung to during that time was Hebrews 11:1 "What is faith? It is the assurance that what we hope for is going to happen. It is the evidence of the things we cannot see. ' God Bless you and your family!

Jennifer McCoy

Anonymous said...

I used to be a labor and delivery nurse, and I know that miracles happen. Science will only take you so far, but faith takes you so much further. I will be praying for you, your family, and a miracle in whatever way the Lord desires. You have touched so many people with your blog, including myself. Your faith is an amazing example to others! Thank you for sharing your heart during such a tough time.

Anonymous said...

Boothe, I want you to know that there is not a day that goes by that I don't check your blog.. along with many many of my friends here in Marietta. I absolutely stand in awe of how God has brought you through this journey this far - the GLORY revealed already is far beyond what you can imagine. THANK YOU for letting GOD use you!
We are praying for you,
Shannon Galbreath

Anonymous said...

Conor and Boothe,

I never ceased to be amazed at your great faith. God is DOING amazing things in you both. In your dark hours, HE is using you to shine forth his light. The teachers at Otter Creek stand in our prayer circle every morning before school and call your name. We pray for Copeland. We pray for a miracle. We pray for Sellers and for peace for her through this entire time. II Kings 6:16 Don't be afraid. Those who are with us are greater than those who are with them. The angels of God are standing all around you as you are in the hardest battle of your life. So many people who love God and love you are interceding in the gap. Joshua 3:5 says when you consecrate yourselves to God, he can do amazing things in you. You and Conor are drawing on his word and his strength and God is doing amazing things in you whether you feel it or not. While none of us knows what Tuesday or the ensuing days bring we believe. We believe in God and I say to HIM who is able to do immeasurably more than all we can ask or imagine be glory!!
love,
pat ward

Elizabeth S said...

Hi. I got the link to your blog from a friend at Otter Creek Church. Your faith has impacted me more than you will ever know. I will be praying for you and your family over the next few days as you wait to welcome that precious baby girl into your family. Remember that your God will not let you go through this alone. He is MIGHTY to save! In Him, Elizabeth Shirley

Darby Stickler said...

Boothe,
I have been and will continue to pray for you. I pray especially that you and Conor will have a restful weekend. I also pray that the Lord will restore you this weekend as you prepare for your week ahead. I check your blog about 10x a day waiting for your next post! You've been such an encouragement to me and I eagerly await the next post to see what the Lord is teaching you. Keep all us "blog stalkers" posted so we'll know how to pray and what to pray!! We love y'all and we're praying in Dothan!!

Mary Alice said...

Boothe,

It's 4:52 a.m. and I can't sleep. I believe God woke me up to pray for you and I just wanted you to know. I imagine that you are being covered at all hours of the night!

God is working. He is moving. He is speaking. And I am praying. So many people are praying, and I hope that gives you, Conor and Sellers peace.

Know that you are loved.

m

Anonymous said...

Praying for you in Oregon......

Laurie said...

Boothe and Conor,
Continuing to pray for all of your requests and more out here in California. Especially for unbelievable peace and rest this weekend and sweet dreams of Copeland as you prepare to meet her, and see Gods plans unfold. May you feel His angels all around you.

Courtney said...

Dear to God, Boothe,
I just wanted to say that I'm here and I'm praying. I wish I had grand words of encouragement, but I wouldn't dare sing songs to a broken heart. What I will say is that I am in awe of your suffering, because I know that it is in your weakness that His power is being manifested. May it be the same with the life of your baby girl.

"Remember, dear brothers and sisters, that few of you were wise in the world’s eyes or powerful or wealthy when God called you. Instead, God chose things the world considers foolish in order to shame those who think they are wise. And he chose things that are powerless to shame those who are powerful. God chose things despised by the world, things counted as nothing at all, and used them to bring to nothing what the world considers important." (I Cor 1:26-28)

Praying so hard for you and your sweet family.

Nathan Luce said...

My family loves you all and each and we are praying for you fervently.

Beth said...

Know that Byron and I are before our God on your behalf. His steadfast love will sustain you and strengthen you for the coming week. We ask Him to save Copeland's life, knowing that she is in his hands, in his gentle love, whether she stays or goes. Our hearts ache with you for her survival.

Holly Biddy said...

Job 5:9 says "He performs wonders that cannot be fathomed, miracles that be counted". I am praying this truth for your family!

JUST A MOM said...

I have not read yoru post,, I jsut want to let you know that your in my every thought GOD HOLD YOU TIGHT !

Lauren said...

Praying for your family this morning. May God grant you the peace, stability and love for one another that you will need to endure the season before you.

Lauren