Not one of the Nine
by susan dayley in , ,

Driving with my eyes shut is not the best choice I've made. My family, when preparing to take a trip to grandma’s, despite carefully prepared lists, and advance preparation, often would be in a frenzy in the last minutes of getting out the door. Therefore, it became a habit that the prayer for a ‘safe trip’ was usually offered as we drove down the road. Someone other than dad (who was usually driving) would say the prayer and we’d all bow our heads. One time though, I drove first and my husband, Mark, began the prayer. Then, in the midst of asking that ‘no harm or accident would befall us.’ (just how does an accident befall?) he felt a strong impression: “Look at Susan.” He looked up to where I was driving, hands on the wheel at 10 and 2, driving down the freeway, but with my head bowed and my eyes closed. “Susan,” he said calmly, but insistently, “you can open your eyes.” Great faith is commendable, but sometimes we have to do our part.

This morning Mark and I took a hike up a local canyon. It was a beautiful sunny day with blue skies and a few high wispy clouds. We were caught up in the beauty of the pines, aspens, and the steep climb and we lost track of the weather. Nearly three hours up the mountain we suddenly realized that a storm had blown in that had been hidden behind the ridge to our left. We were half a mile from the mountain lake we were aiming for, but decided we needed to head back quickly. We descended as rapidly as we could, chased by thunder while darkness closed in. “Say a prayer,” Mark called backwards. Recognizing that we were going to get wet, I prayed that we wouldn’t slip on steep muddy trails, or that neither of us would twist an ankle on the loose rocks. But it was up to us to maintain as prudent a pace as we could. Faith did not license recklessness.

During our descent, which was condensed into an hour, Mark recalled the story of the 10 lepers. Most of us are aware of the lesson of being thankful—but there is no indication that the other nine were not thankful. After their joyful rushing to share their health with loved ones, they probably said prayers of gratitude. Perhaps they offered sacrifices at the temple. They may have even sought out Jesus later in hopes of thanking him. Yet only one went back immediately to thank him. I thought about how we now give thanks as soon as we arrive at grandma’s rather than waiting for evening prayers.

But then a deeper layer of faith occurred to me. I had been waiting to see if we made it down the mountain without a mishap before I offered a prayer of thanks. Conditional gratitude? What depth of faith was that? I wasn’t asking that I could drive with my eyes closed, but I was waiting to see if I was protected to my satisfaction. I mentioned how in my book about Hezekiah, Eliakim, after hearing a prophecy given by Isaiah, wherein that night they would be rescued, gave immediate thanks, even though the prophecy had not yet been fulfilled. So I said another prayer, thanking my father in heaven for his protecting aid as we descended, as well as a second prayer when we arrived wet, but safe, back at the car.


Ryan said...

Wow, those experiences are pretty neat. Love your blog!

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