I am continually amazed at the variety of ways in which God answers prayer.
For some time now, as our life group has been talking about reaching out to others with the hope of salvation, Marion and I have been praying for openings to share Jesus in our neighbourhood.
A few weeks ago, God broke into our lives in a totally unexpected way, showing us that our cry had been heard.
We had reluctantly concluded that our four-year-old mattress needed to be replaced. It was a TempurPedic, made of high-quality foam and still in excellent shape. We had bought it because of our ageing backs, and I found it really comfortable, but Marion had been experiencing severe back and leg pain, and had been told by both her chiropractor and her physiotherapist that she probably needed a firmer mattress. So, after prayer and reflection we decided to take their advice and replace the mattress. This was not in our budget but our budget had already been blown sky-high by other unforeseen events (you can read about one of these events in It’s Only Money), and we sensed the Lord saying “Just trust me”, so we asked Him for a good deal on an affordable mattress that would actually help Marion’s back, and went shopping.
We also asked the Lord for guidance about where to go to buy the mattress. You may think that’s a bit extreme, but it turned out to be very important. We hit Sleep Country on a quiet Monday evening and found a very sympathetic salesman with time to listen. Not only did he help us pick a good mattress, he also listened to our tale of woe about our TempurPedic, and encouraged us to try to sell it. He said that the season between July and September was prime time for selling mattresses and that a TempurPedic would probably fetch a good price – maybe even enough to pay for the mattress we were buying.
Just before leaving the store, another customer entered. We heard her asking the salesman about TempurPedic mattresses. I was a bit surprised because she looked like a street person. I thought to myself, “I wonder if she has any idea how much those things cost?”.
By the time we were ready to leave the parking lot, the woman (I’ll call her Meg – not her real name) came racing out of the store and knocked on the window of our Highlander. She wanted to know if we had a TempurPedic for sale. She gave us her name and contact info, and we agreed to find a way to get the mattress to her.
At first, to be honest, the only answer to prayer that I saw in this event was our prayer for someone who would buy our mattress. Then I realized that Meg couldn’t afford to pay the price we had established – at least, not all at once – and that God had led us to someone in need, to whom we could show kindness in Jesus’ name. My heart was touched as I heard her say that most of her bones had been broken due to childhood abuse, and that she had been suffering chronic back pain and living on disability benefits for years. As we continued to listen to Meg’s story, I realized that this was about more than the mattress, and that her need was far more than physical. God was answering our prayer for openings to share Jesus’ love with our neighbours.
To make a long story short, Meg now has our TempurPedic, and is able to sleep through the night which she has not been able to do for years. Through the partnership of Ben, Orlando and Rafael from our life group, we were able to deliver the mattress to her. She wanted to pay for it, which is a help to us and probably important for her, but we have been able to arrange a plan that she can afford. While Rafael and Orlando brought the mattress to her apartment, Ben shared the good news of Jesus with Meg, and Ben and I prayed with her. Afterwards she told us she had not felt so loved in years. She has not yet been physically healed, but I believe that day is coming.
I’ve been back to see Meg since then. She is open and eager to hear more about Jesus, and wants to come to the home Alpha group that Marion and I are planning to host this fall. I sense that in time God may use her to reach out to others in her subsidized housing project.
Does God answer the prayer of faith? Yes – sometimes in surprising ways. One of the keys is to listen with an expectant heart. Another is to be open to whatever and whomever He sends.
I can now honestly say that I’m thankful for having to buy a new mattress. I’m thankful that the Lord led us to Meg. I am thankful that He is preparing her heart to receive Jesus, and preparing the hearts of others in our neighbourhood as well.