By Marla Aycock
One dearly loved and embedded in a family’s heart for thirty-two years has roots so deep and of such breadth their absence changes everything. Over a year had passed since Esther had left our physical presence, but tears of sorrow flowed for our whole family.
The previous year, after the first Christmas anniversary, I sensed my living daughters’ distance themselves from me. Each of us limped our way through the aftermath of a level-five-hurricane.
I felt abondoned.
Keith and I often moved through the day like the walking dead, each in our silent bubble of grief, processing and managing each day the best we could. We’d been through a long physical, mental and emotional war. Post traumatic residue clung.
I became desperate and deeply burdened for the healing of my family.
Then, a thirty-year-old memory, like a forgotten seed, sprouted. I remembered a prayer pamphlet of how to intercede for loved ones who were spiritually dormant.
I forged through multiple drawers and papers in my office, searching for this living water on a page. Triumphant, I found the sage-jewel lying forgotten in the bottom of a nightstand drawer. The title, ”How I Learned to Pray for the Lost.”
The anonymous author, prefaced her story with a personal experience. After twenty years of fruitless praying for her family, she began searching scripture and asking God how to pray effectively. She based her prayers on sections the Lord impressed on her, and within weeks her loved ones made one-hundred-eighty-degree life changes.
Encouraged by a personal memory where I’d prayed for a friend’s husband and had seen immediate life change, I began to pray consistently for my family based on scriptures the author shared. With the confident authority Jesus Christ won for me through his death and resurrection power I claimed each family member. It became common for me to awaken between 3-4 a.m. with a deep burden and weep copiously as I prayed over each one. I lingered over one person I thought had the most influence to bring change.
Within a month, our ten-year-old grandson, PJ, spent the weekend with us. He seemed absorbed in the Discovery Channel on TV when, completely off subject, he began asking about God. Having little church experience, he’d never asked such questions before. We had a good conversation until he lost interest and went back to his program.
I sat there and mused, where in the world did that come from? Then I remembered my fervent prayers for our family and a fragment of scripture trickled – and a little child shall lead them. I chuckled aloud, ”God, your ways are certainly not mine!”
Three weeks later PJ spent Thanksgiving weekend at our house and attended church with us on Sunday. The communion service confused him and we said, ”We’ll explain it to you later and maybe you can participate next time. It’s important for you to understand it’s significance.”
Later that Sunday afternoon, his granddad, Keith, led him in a simple prayer to receive Jesus’ sacrifice for his sins. A celebration in our hearts burst wide. Monday morning found Keith and PJ purchasing the children’s book, ”I’m a Christian, Now What?” As I wrote PJ’s spiritual birth date, November 23rd, inside the book’s cover, we realized it would be easy to remember as he’d been born on the 23rd of March.
More exciting news surged into our lives the first week of December…
(Stay Tuned for Part Two)
Marla’s Bio: Is it ever too late to begin again? Train for a triathlon? Go back to college for that degree? Take a trip to your dream destination? Begin a new vocation in your life? ”Never!” Says Marla. Marla spent most of her life in music education and ministry while raising three daughters in Marietta, Georgia. Married to her husband, Keith, for 52 years, they raised a complex trio of girls which has inspired her to write Grief is Not My Future based on the experiences of their third daughter, Esther.
So, no one could be more surprised than her when she entered her seventh decade sitting among published and aspiring authors. Unlike many scribes who knew from an early age they were supposed to write, she had no such inclination.