“Always Listening” by Cynthia D’Attilio

“Always Listening” by Cynthia D’Attilio

My nephew (I’ll call him Mike) is in the hospital. He’s thirty-six and he’s got Crohn’s Disease. After nearly dying from malnutrition (twice) and in constant, chronic pain, he’s finally decided to get an ileostomy–a temporary measure. He’s hoping his large intestines will heal enough that he won’t need a colostomy, which would be permanent.

Mike has been in Kent Hospital for over a week; he’s in terrible pain (as usual). His intestines twisted (which is not unusual) after the surgery and he required a second surgery. Any time he eats, his body rejects the food; he’s had a tube up his nose and tubes coming out of him… he’s so sick, and he has been for a very long time. In fact, I discovered that during the fall, Mike had plans to kill himself because he was so tired of being in so much pain. He had everything all cleaned up and organized, and was just about to walk out the door to end his life. Then, a friend of his who he hadn’t talked to since high school called him out of the blue. He told Mike, “I don’t know why I’m calling you, I just felt like I had to.”

That’s God. He’s got his hand on Michael. Praise Him! He watches over us all.

BUT–that’s not what I’m writing about. You’re welcome to pray for Mike’s health and recovery, of course, but there’s more!

God’s put it on my heart to tell Michael about Him. You know, to “plant a seed” as Pastor Rick has been telling us; “seeds, not weeds” has become one of my personal mantras. I’m pretty good at not planting weeds—I think—but I’ve yet to plant any seeds.

But now… Michael’s been so lost in his illness. He lives alone in Seekonk, unable to work, unable to go out, unable to do much of anything. He’s had to move back home with his parents, my sister Mary and her husband, John; when they move down to Florida for the winter, he’s stayed with my brother (his Uncle Eddy) and Ed’s wife, Patti. His sister has also helped as best she can, as have Mike’s other friends and family, but ultimately Mike is alone in this painful battle with his body. He needs to know the Father is with him.

So, I picked up one of the free bibles at church on Sunday, and the very last “You Matter” card to tuck inside of it. (Yes, Father. I’m listening…I see. It’s meant for him to have.) But I’m not very brave about this seeding stuff. I’ve been praying for the words to say that won’t scare Mike away. I really don’t know how to do this. “I’m not mature enough,” I’ve argued in my prayers. “I don’t know what to say.”

Doesn’t matter, God says. Do what I tell you.

“But…he’ll think I’m a Jesus freak! One of those crazy people that hold up signs and froths at the mouth.”

You ARE a Jesus freak, God tells me. (I get the feeling He’s laughing at me.) Tell him anyway.

“Yes, but–”

Do it. Just tell him he is loved. 

“All right,” I say reluctantly. “I’ll do it, but I’m pretty sure he’ll just leave the Bible in his hospital room. AND think I’m crazy.”

That’s okay, God says. Just do what I tell you. After that, He doesn’t say much else.

So today while getting ready to visit Mike today–after a week of pain and asking for no visitors, he’s ready. (Plus, my sister had hip replacement surgery–he’s had no one visiting for a few days. He’s bored!) As usual, I’m looking at Facebook, and something I read from a friend reminds me of a verse of Scripture. I google what I remember and Jeremiah 1:5 comes up.

But it’s not exactly what I was looking for–I decide to search through the next few verses. I key in Jeremiah 1:5-10 and read this:

Jeremiah 1:5-10 (NLT)

5 “I knew you before I formed you in your mother’s womb. Before you were born I set you apart and appointed you as my prophet to the nations.” 6 “O Sovereign Lord,” I said, “I can’t speak for you! I’m too young!” 7 The Lord replied, “Don’t say, ‘I’m too young,’ for you must go wherever I send you and say whatever I tell you. 8 And don’t be afraid of the people, for I will be with you and will protect you. I, the Lord, have spoken!” 9 Then the Lord reached out and touched my mouth and said, “Look, I have put my words in your mouth! 10 Today I appoint you to stand up against nations and kingdoms. Some you must uproot and tear down, destroy and overthrow. Others you must build up and plant.”

Not too young (or immature in my faith). My words are in your mouth. You’re appointed. Plant. (A seed)

I still can’t quite wrap my mind around the fact that not only did God call me out on my own “I don’t know what to say” whimpers, but…He used the metaphor I’ve been using. He’s asked me to be his gardener and actually said, “Plant. A. Seed.”

Though I know that there are those who think the Bible is an old, corrupted book, every day I find the answers to my prayers in it. In fact, I’ll tell anyone who thinks so—it’s as contemporary as any other more recent book—if you have a direct line with the Author. He will answer you!

Pray for Mike, that his heart may be opened and that he will discover God’s truth for himself. I know he will heal physically; I know too that he’s been brought low like this so he will slow down and listen to God’s call. He may not listen to me, and he might still think I’m a Jesus Freak (because I am). But he won’t be able to deny—if he pays attention–that our Father is watching and listening and always answering.

Our wonderful, amazing, great Father! He knows us all by name!