I was told he was praying for me everyday. In the past, he told me himself, “I light a candle for you everyday.” Until I melded my life with a Catholic, I wasn’t sure what the whole candle lighting thing was- now I have a better idea, and a candle constantly flickering in my home; when it burns out another is lit. Every morning and night we say a prayer, it is a nice reminder, and a small fire hazard; but I am hopeful that the Saint of All Lost Causes keeps us safe.
I am not flattered by the daily prayer vigil on my behalf. What would tickle my soul literally is if this person were to show he cared. On the other end of that prayer I can veraciously proclaim- it means nothing; absolutely zero. Faith without works is dead, and the candle lit on that daily basis burns only for the ego that lit it.
Isn’t this the way of most prayers? “I am praying for you” is our easy out. It helps to send the good vibes in this Age of Aquarius, but that next step of SHOWING one cares is when the prayer takes off. While living in Germany in the 1980’s, we had a great car we had purchased for two hundred dollars; in retrospect, the neighbor gave us his car to help our fledgling family. It had heat, which made me very happy. All US citizens had to have a USA sticker on the vehicle, which made us a target during what I call “the planes over Libya” uneasiness. Someone stuck a rod into our fuel tank leaving us without a vehicle for 2 months. During that time, I learned a lot about good intentions, and what they really mean.
“If you need anything, let us know. A ride to the commissary, the clinic, just anything; call any of us,” was the promise from the president of the Protestant Women of the Chapel. I was the public relations officer and very active with the ‘women.’ I was grateful; and being a long-term survivalist, I utilized the offer.
“Hi, I was wondering if I could get a ride to the commissary? No, oh- you just got back, well okay, next time you go could you call me and maybe I could hitch a ride then?”
Not once was anyone there for me when I asked. Not once.
I used the bus, the cab and the trains; which was fine for me, and I made a vow, I would never lie about what I was willing to do in the name of Jesus.
I saw a Volkswagen van for sale on post and wrote down the number. We didn’t have any cash, and the 1300 dollars was like a million- so I tucked the number away and prayed that some how we could get that van. It was during that time we got the call my mother was dying and we left Germany for a month to see her and visit others in the states. Upon our arrival back in Germany, a friend and fellow soldier, Jeff Cooper, offered us a thousand dollars to buy something to get us back on the road. We knew him from the Hospitality House, a Christian ministry for soldiers and their families. Every week we gathered for Bible Studies, dinners and fun. Jeff was one of those people we felt was a part of our family, and like a good brother he offered some help. I pulled the number out of the drawer for the van and the couple selling it were preparing to ship it back to the states; in two days they were having to drive to Bremerhaven, an eight hour drive, to get it on the slow boat to America.
“We will drive out to let you see it, but we are solid on the 13 hundred dollar price,” the van owner told me. I knew all we had was the thousand, a deal was still going to be made- I felt the van was ours the moment it was revealed it hadn’t sold in the last month.
We drove it, checked the engine and offered the thousand. The couple balked and said no. I told them “sixteen hours on the road tomorrow is worth 300 dollars. We have cash,” I pulled out the money and put it in his hand. He looked at his wife, shrugged his shoulders and said, “Okay.”
The first thing we did after we thanked Jeff and set up a payment plan was to pray. We offered our van to anyone who would need the help. You see, I was so totally hurt that none of my fellow Women of the Chapel were available for a ride to the commissary, that I vowed not to get mad, but to get even by putting our van where our prayers were. We vowed if anyone needed our van- we would help them.
At midnight we had a knock on the door. We had the van for one day and our prayer was being ‘answered.’ “Seven of my men are in a small bit of trouble in Munich- they are drunk and being held by the Politzi; can I use your van to get them?” We lived in the same building as this sergeant, never spoke much to him, and didn’t even know his first name. The keys were in his hand before he finished his story; the boys were brought home safe.
In the next month we let our van go to pick up furniture, take a baby to the clinic and brought extra groceries from the commissary for someone who, like me a month before, had no ‘ride.’
“I was praying and God told me…” This is another fun phrase I heard a lot during my Protestant Women of the Chapel days. I had to address poor Deidra, a woman being forced by God to help me; “Hey, if God is telling you do to something for me, and you really are adverse to the whole thing- let it go. See, I think helping someone shouldn’t be a test, something you really don’t want to do, but you yield in order to be a good Christian. Deidra you are off the hook. I will tell God to leave you alone.” Poor Deidra, she had God telling her to give me her children’s hand-me-downs, take me to Shannon’s pediatric appointment, (post van purchase) and God was insisting she call me. “God put it on my heart to call you…God put it in my heart to take you to the clinic…” It was evident that if God wasn’t so insisting, she would have nothing to do with me. After I told her to please not feel forced by God to help and I was fine,she never offered anything other than her perfectly pious advice. My husband was an E-3, hers was a Captain; she must have felt some guilt over that- who knows. Is there a verse about good works with a heavy sigh?
I am guilty of saying “I will pray for you” then not doing anything else to help. I sometimes tend toward the excuse of staying out of the other’s way- that someone else will help. I note this: that if I have a heavy sigh along with surrender to what I think God would want from me- it cancels the latter out. Aren’t the people who do stuff for others with a big smile and a pureness cool?
Do I want the man who lights a candle for me to stop? I have no affinity one way or the other. I would rather he put into works what he prays for and show he cares by being there for me as one human can be for the other. For me there is no light between us, it flickers daily in vain.