A wedding invitation has arrived in the post. It’s from an old friend, a guy who’s been an established batchelor for as long as I can remember. It seems he’s now met his Miss Right.
How exciting! I didn’t even know he was dating! Who else is invited? What to wear? What to give them? Where to stay?
The wedding is close to a converted barn, owned by a now elderly couple, where I once lived as a lodger. So I call them and invite myself to visit while I’m in the vicinity.
“Not a problem,” they say, “We’d love to see you, but just be aware that we’ve got another couple staying with us that weekend.”
It’s the height of summer and I arrive at the barn to be greeted by the smell of honeysuckle and the sight of beautiful climbing roses. The garden is picture perfect, as always.
Sitting out on the patio, around the meal table, we get chatting and the other house guests start telling me their story by way of introduction. Let’s call them Bill and Carol*.
Carol is in her 50s. Sitting opposite me, she looks me squarely in the face, as she explains that she lost her hearing as a two-year-old toddler. It was an accident and her parents were beside themselves with worry, but the doctors could do nothing.
For 52 years, she had no memory of sound. She learnt to communicate through sign language and lip reading and, most of the time, she got on fine.
A couple of months ago, her husband is discussing with their six-year-old grandson about how Jesus still heals people today when we pray. They are on holiday, three generations of the family gathered together, and the conversation is happening by an outdoor swimming pool.
Wide eyed, the little boy turns to look at his grandpa. “If that’s true”, he says, “then why hasn’t Jesus’ healed Nana’s hearing yet?”
Bill pauses for a moment to think about how to answer and, before he can barely blink, his grandson is up on his feet and standing by his Nana’s chair, laying hands on her and praying, asking Jesus to heal her hearing.
Carol joins in, telling me that she was aware of her grandson coming over to her and she could feel her grandson’s touch, but he was standing behind her, so she had no clue what he said or how he said it.
“But when he lifted his little hands off my ears,” she tells me, breaking into a broad grin, “I realised I could hear!”
Suddenly the sound of the children splashing in the pool, the hubbub of conversation, cars in the distance. All of it was audible.
Looking at her husband, she wasn’t sure whether she was imagining it.
“Bill, darling,” she told him, “I think I can hear!”
“What?” said Bill, looking at Carol, and then at their grandson, and then back at Carol again. “Wow!”
“Please can you turn your face away from me?” she asks him. “So that I can’t lip read by accident,” she explains, “and can you say something to me, so we can test this?”
Their grandson is jumping excitedly up and down in glee!
With his back turned, Bill asked her whether she’d like a drink.
“I could so clearly hear the question,” says Carol, still grinning, “so I requested a glass of champagne.” She pauses a moment. “It was such an obvious answer, because we had every reason to celebrate.”
It’s not every day that you meet someone who once was deaf, but who now can hear!
Do you have a child, or children, in your life? How much do you encourage them to have the same boldness in their prayers as Bill and Carol’s grandson? What sort of prayer practices do you model at home?
What will it take for us to cultivate the sort of faith that this six-year-old boy demonstrated in praying for his Nana?
Amongst other things, imagine what might happen if we were to drop our adult cynicism, instead replacing it with some of the following ‘childlike’ attributes: Openness. Tenderness. Love. Creativity. Wonder. Awe. Delight. Glee. Play. Humour. Hope. Joy. Trust. How much would God want to work through us then?
As ever, all thoughts are welcome in the comments below, as long as they are constructive.