The first time I heard the song we sing at Grace Chapel that has the words: “I called and you answered, and you came to my rescue and I want to be where you are.” I immediately thought of my story.
The story is this :
Only a God who knows our hearts could ever answer a prayer like the one I said one day as a teen. He had to show me compassion and love, to this day many years later, I believe HE knew I had to have something tangible and real to hold onto in order for me to believe.
Before I became a Christian, my view of God was full of skepticism and unbelief. He was like a Santa who gave things to people when they asked. He was very far away and not an all knowing GOD who actually cared for someone.
I do remember walking to a small church as a little girl and going to Sunday school. As I listened to the stories of the bible on flannel graph boards, God and Jesus were unreachable to me. They were characters in a hard-backed book. I couldn’t touch them or feel them. They were songs sung to the music of an un-tuned piano. “Jesus loves the little children”… only I was not one of them. I also remember sitting on the hard pews holding the very heavy hymnal on my little legs.
The way God reached out to me is a wonderful and powerful reminder, that HE does indeed listen to the prayers, of those who do not know Him. He listens to the heart cries if we pray with a sincere prayer, and He is moved with compassion and love.
In my freshman year of High School, I began to search the meaning of life. We had moved again to a new rental home and another new school. It was at the bus stop while waiting for the bus I would engage in conversation with a girl there. She was an honor student who lived with her parents in a normal stable family. I was very different. I would wear the Diana Ross ratted hair style, fake eye lashes (yes I did say that) and white eye shadow. Every day this girl would ask me questions. Pursuing me. Forcing me to ‘think’ about God and church and life. Every day I argued with her.
My life experience had been much different than hers.
My concept of ‘love’ was not something she could understand. We were two friends speaking different languages. She talked often and gave me lots of questions to think about. As our friendship grew, I began to listen to her and then I decided to test her ‘GOD’. My sister had been gone for many months on the street, living life as a drug addict and runaway. I missed her greatly and wanted desperately to see her. We didn’t know if she dead or alive and it was a heart ache I couldn’t take care of on my own. So often I would sit by the window watching the wind and rains and hoped in my heart she was safe and dry.
I remembered this girl told me ‘GOD hears all prayers’. I didn’t believe it but what could I lose by not trying? One night as I was going to bed. Not knowing how to pray or how it all works for Him to hear you.
I prayed a simple prayer. A bold one. A searching from the heart prayer.
I said, “God I would believe, I think I can believe you, if you can find my sister. The girl tells me you know everything, you see everything. So you should know how to find her. I want her home. IF you are God. IF you know everything then YOU can bring her home tonight. When I wake up in the morning I want her sleeping in her own bed. IF you can do that, then I will believe.” I went to bed and fell into a deep sleep which was very unusual for me at that stage of my life.
You can imagine my surprise when I woke up the next morning, and saw her across the room sleeping in her own bed. The police had found her in the middle of the night and contacted our mother. She had been beaten badly but she was home, sleeping in her bed, in our room. It was a miraculous reunion of sisters. A cry from a young person’s heart to a God she didn’t know. We were always hopeful she was alive, but never knowing was heartbreaking. She didn’t stay at home very long. She left soon after the first night, but my prayer was answered.
Now I had to deal with ‘the girl at the bus stop’. I made the phone call telling her what happened. She told me about God, church and her youth group. I believe God knew the only way I would trust, was for Him to show me an answer to a simple prayer.
From a simple heart cry, I learned that nothing I could do from that day on could separate me from the Love of God.
If He could hear the doubting prayer of a broken teen. Then was He worth my praise the rest of my life. The years after God came into my life were not easy. But because of the strength HE gave I was able to trust Him through the process. He was hope when I felt hopeless. He was my peace when it wasn’t peaceful. He was love on a Cross saying to me, “I care deeply for you.” His ways are mysterious and wonderful and I am always in awe of His love. I have never regretted that first life changing prayer. I hope this finds you encouraged. Our God is a God who hears the simple prayers of faith. It doesn’t have to be fancy or elaborate it just has to be from the heart.
(PS. The girl at the bus stop is now my sister in law; we married brothers!)
My name is Sharon Osterhoudt , been married for 42 years, we have two grown ‘children’ and six grand children. We have attended Grace chapel now for over ten years.
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