The Story of Two Praying Sisters
There was once a young man who was an avid sportsman and an able student. He grew up in a supportive family environment. These factors contributed to a healthy self-esteem which eventually tipped over to selfish obsession.
At fifteen he discovered the party lifestyle through the local football club and in the 1970’s graduated to the hard-core partying that was consistent with the motorcycle culture of the day. A life that began so promisingly literally began to fall apart at the seams.
Relational unfaithfulness wrecked his young marriage. He was a user in relationships. He considered people in terms of what he could get. Self-absorption crippled meaningful contacts with others. He turned his back on his family, feeling guilty for the way he was living and the choices he had made. Life was a mess but he refused to accept it. Rather, he chose to bury his shortcomings, failures and guilt under a drug induced, but deceptive dream. He preferred his own version of life and lived in unreality, believing and living his own lies. What he didn’t know was the devotedness of his two sisters who faithfully prayed for him.
Following a serious motorcycle accident in January 1983 that could have claimed his life, a radical encounter in hospital with the risen Lord Jesus turned his life around.
As he tells the story,
“I was lying back in hospital in enormous pain, when all of a sudden; the ceiling of the hospital peeled back like someone took to it with a can opener. All of a sudden these clouds rolled in and in the midst appeared the head of a lion, followed by the head of a bull, followed by the face of a man. A man like figure began to descend through the ceiling and I thought, “This must be God, not that I know him, but who else could do stuff like this?” And I quickly weighed it up that if this is indeed God, and he could do this kind of stuff, then I’m just a fly on the flypaper of life…He could snap his fingers and I’d be gone…
so I said “What do you want?”
The man said, “Don’t be afraid”.
“I’m not”, I in a sober as-a- matter-of-fact fashion replied and repeated “what do you want?”
He replied, “I’ve come to let you know I care”
and with that he stretched out his hand and passed it through my badly broken leg and took away all the pain. I noticed an unusual scar in the middle of his hand and I looked at his face. He had kind eyes, but I noticed a random string of scars around his forehead, like someone had pushed something with large spikes into his head.
I was so grateful to this stranger, “Please don’t go” I said.
“I’ll be as close as a prayer away” He replied
and with that he vanished and I drifted off into the most amazingly peaceful sleep I can ever remember.
The next morning when I awoke, I expected that everyone had witnessed this “visitation”. To my amazement, everyone I asked had no idea what I was talking about. My sister’s visited that morning and I told them what had happened, they both burst into tears, my older sister returned after lunch with a bible.
I scoffed at her “A bible, what do I want with a bible? I’ve just met God, I don’t need your bible!!!”
She patiently and lovingly said, “I’ve put a book mark in it, there may be something of interest there for you”.
“Put it on the cabinet, I might get to it later” I said in a dismissive way.
Shortly after that she left…after a couple of hour’s curiosity got the better of me so I opened the book to her bookmark. She wanted me to read the passage Revelation 3:20 “Here I am! I stand at the door and knock, if anyone hears my voice and opens the door I will eat with him and he with me” but when I opened to the page words began to glow in a molten gold like fashion from further down and across the page, “The first one had the head of a lion, the second one had the head of a bull, the third one had the face of a man and the forth on was like an eagle in flight”
I turned the pages quickly to see if the words had burned a hole through the book, then I looked at them again, “The head of a lion, the head of a bull, the face of a man…” this was what I had seen the night before!!! With that reality began to hammer home…and I only knew three things, I hadn’t died and gone to heaven so I was alive, God really, really is and He really does care, and wherever I was going to find the truth about these things was in this book. But just as quickly reality began to slip away and I was to later learn that Ezekiel had a similar experience and it scrambled his head too! See Ezekiel 3:15
I began to read the stories of Jesus and realized it was He who came. I still remember that morning in March 1983 when I worked out the plan; that Jesus came on a rescue mission for prodigals like me. I bowed my knee and pledged my life to him. I was baptized in April that very year…and life has never been the same since. I’m still trying to understand why God would come, suffer, die and raise again for someone like me…but I know its true and hope many other prodigals may experience the marvelous, gracious mercy of a loving Father who gave His Son that others might live.”
Jesus’ appearance and outrageous expression of love stripped Rhys of all he would claim about himself to be good, forgave him of all he knew in his heart he had been running from and welcomed him home.
The transformation continues today. Instead of getting, his concern is giving. A life once consumed with self-absorbed opportunism has given over to contribution. Now with a beautiful wife and family, the party lifestyle has given way to a much greater celebration of life; consuming for his own benefit to sharing with others; selfishness to concern for community; running away from things to a commitment to be part of the solution. The selfish live for the thrill of the moment has given over to a concern for others and a life that knew no hope is now flooded with hope. He now knows what it means to stand for Jesus so he will no longer fall for anything.
If you ask him, he’ll be the first to say, “The worst day with Jesus in your life, beats the hell out of the best day the way it used to be!” He beckons be an agent of social transformation welcoming other wayward children home!
Never underestimate the power of faithful family members who pray and love the prodigals home.