I failed that test yesterday. I asked God and my friend for forgiveness and the chance for a re-take test today.
My missionary friend Trudy (not her real name) asked in her recent letter for prayer that her pet dog, Claudus, (not its real name) would lose 3 pounds to qualify for the regulations on the airlines as it accompanied her back and forth to her continuing overseas assignment. I wrote her, without intending offense, that I didn't think God wanted me to make it my priority intercession to pray for a dog when I committed to pray for her mission work.
"I pray for the human aspects of your work, for you, your co-workers, and the people whom you are seeking to draw to Christ. But as much as I have always loved animals and my children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren have pets, I have a hard time to pray for the diet of Claudus and the money it must take for his trans-Pacific ticket each flight. Nothing personal, just considering your request in the grand scheme of things Eternal. Your friend and prayer partner."
Oh, my goodness, how inappropriately sanctimonious and prideful I must have come across! I wasn't walking in her shoes; I didn't know the circumstances of her need and jumped to wrong conclusions when I shouldn't have jumped at all. There is a time to speak and a time to be quiet!
Trudy so graciously and gently answered me today with the background of her request. She is my age, 85. We were college classmates, and as a lifelong missionary administrator she could have and was certainly eligible to have retired 20 years ago, but she was still giving valuable professional and spiritual service to her mission in Asia. Moreover, she was responsible for an invalid sister in a nursing home in this country, so she had to shuttle back and forth overseas twice a year to discharge both sides of her commitment. Friends and co-workers in both countries had been unable to help care for Claudus during her absences because of their own responsibilities, illnesses, living circumstances, and other valid and complicated reasons, despite her best efforts to make arrangements for his care. She admitted to feeling awkward asking for prayer about her dog; lately, a friend who was caring for her dog had overfed him. At the same time, she was concerned that the situation might be an attack of the Enemy to distract her from her work for God's Kingdom.
Trudy never married and devoted her entire life to serve the Lord. She didn't have the loving, close, support of family relationships, of husband and children, that those of us who married had. Claudus had been a gift from co-workers not only for her loving companionship, but as a faithful guard dog since she lives alone. Walking her dog forces her to get the exercise she needs for some of her physical challenges. Oh, I could certainly empathize with her.
Now I understood the size and fit of the shoes she wore as she gave beyond-the-call-of-duty sacrificial service to God under difficult circumstances coupled with her aging and health limitations. My heart reached out to her. How quickly I tried to humble myself and express my "Sorry" for words misdirected!
"Trudy, please forgive me for speaking out of turn. Of course I will pray for your dilemma concerning Claudus because this may, as you suggest, be a tactic of the Enemy to distract you from faithfully pursuing at your age (at OUR age) the fulfillment of your calling. That's what I want to do in the latter years of my life. Yes, it may also be a test of your obedience to the Lord and trust in His providence in all things great and small. May the Lord give you His wisdom and common sense and make a way for you where there does not seem to be a way."
And God, help me to learn well my lesson not to judge anyone else's pathway of life and the shoes God has assigned them for their journey.