A Lifetime of Praying
By Jenny Baxter, Tasmanian Director, EmpowHer
What do you do when the answers don’t seem to be coming?
While my life flashed before my eyes, I sat in the Spanish winter sunshine, nervously waiting for the bride, our Alice, to be given away.
Well, it wasn’t my life exactly. It was pieces of Alice’s life I’d kept close in my heart. Moments I had participated in, helped with, and cried over.
The memories flickered through my mind like precious flowers, once fresh but now pressed, faded and time-worn.
FLASH: Her traumatic assisted delivery, after an almost-C-section.
FLASH: The trip to Canada before she could even crawl.
FLASH: Sitting in piano lessons, piano lessons, piano lessons.
FLASH: Tears over a nasty gravel graze, her first week on a bike.
FLASH: Her first grown-up hairdo, Grade Six graduation night.
FLASH: Torn, watching her lag at the back of a pack of high-schoolgirls, convinced she was born to lead.
FLASH: Goodbyes on the bus, leaving home for Victoria, little knowing she was really on her way to France, via Sydney and Japan!
The memories flickered through my mind like precious flowers, once fresh but now pressed, faded and time-worn. Compressed into short minutes.
And the prayers. Especially, I remembered the prayers. So many for this very moment. This day, when she would promise: To have and to hold from this day forward.
Praying for Alice – and the switch
Prayer is a commitment I made to my children as each was born. I pray for them all, regularly.
As well, I committed to pray for each one’s life-partner as both halves were forming and founding, maturing and mellowing, living and learning. What better time to sow into their lives until the two became one? Granted, I didn’t know who those partners would be. But God did.
For well over three decades, I prayed for Alice, and her as-yet unknown husband. Where was he? What had happened to him? My hope wore out.
Only a year ago, Alice had given up. But during one Zoom call, from somewhere deep down, I found the words to encourage her to keep believing he would materialise. Tearily, she’d agreed. But only when remembering the letter her close-to-death grandfather had written 13 years ago, for opening on this very day.
It’s hard to believe it was only 10 months since I’d switched up my praying. Inspired by the story of Isaac and Rebekah in Genesis 24, I stopped asking for a husband. Instead, I audaciously asked for Alice to be the answer to someone else’s prayer.
The most unexpected answer
And here he was. My soon to be son-in-law, AJ. Arthur Jnr. Standing with the minister, patiently waiting for Alice. He was everything I had hoped for, and nothing like I expected.
I didn’t know he would be Nigerian-American. Or that he would live in Spain. Or that Alice would move to France, and now Spain, to join him for their new future. How little I knew!
But those qualities. They were everything I had prayed for. Faithful. Caring. Believing. Strong. Determined. Loving. Kind.
Her moment had come. That prayer from her birth, now answered before my very eyes. God’s magnificent answer.
And then came Alice on her Dad’s arm! Jessica’s Theme melodically bringing an undeniably Aussie flavour, and tears to my eyes. She was ready. In love. Looking gorgeous and dewy-eyed. Having waited all those years.
Here was the culmination of a lifetime of prayer. Pinching myself this was all real, I was so aware it was a moment I will savour forever, that morning in the wintry Spanish sunshine. It was an ending and a beginning. The old and the new. The faded and the fresh.
My prayers for Alice and her future husband, are now complete. Thank you God!
But, you know, there is more to come. From here on, I pray for Alice and her newfound family.
Alice’s life in pictures
This story was first published in HEARTLANDS Summer 21-22.
This is the quarterly e-mail news for EmpowHer, an activity of Tasmanian Baptist Women.
To find out about EmpowHer events and activities for women in Tasmania, please subscribe to Heartlands!