YOLO! You only live once; so live young, wild and free. This phrase has become the battle cry of this generation providing justification to engage in all manner of sin the world has to offer. Some barely toe the line of their parents’ rules. Others take it to the extreme and shatter the delicate barriers created between the Lord and the Enemy. Thanks to my Pastor and church family, my rally cry is “Pray First”. Otherwise, the enemy wins.
I have now heard my Pastor speak his “Pray First” message on two occasions. The first was in August, 2012. Afterward, we were all given the popular little rubber arm bracelets imprinted with the phrase, “Pray First” as a reminder. My son has worn his to this day. I wholeheartedly adopted that message without fully knowing the impact it would have on me. That is, until Mother’s Day of this present year.
I asked my son if I could share this moment of his life with you. Mother’s Day 2014 was the worst night ever. It was spent not knowing if my son would live or die. And I am not a dramatic mom by nature. In my heart and mind, this night was hard core.
I frequently joke about “These Ritch Boys” shaking my head and smiling at their never-ending antics. Any mother to teenage boys knows the drill. Boys will be boys after all. That’s the cute part; what I am normally willing to share without reservation. What is on my heart today, though, is a dark and heavy weight. Perhaps this overwhelming urge to share is the ever gentle leading of The Holy Spirit. And I will not share any part of my family life unless I can use it for the Glory of the Lord.
I spent two days away from home, leaving him alone. He is mature and trustworthy. After calling me numerous times on Mother’s Day to get my estimated time of arrival, he finally asked to head to the lake with friends until I arrived. We mutually agreed on the time we could see each other and he was on his way. That time came and went. I texted, I called… and I waited. I waited longer. No answer. I admit as it got later, my feelings were a bit hurt.
Relief came over me as I heard the very distinct sound of his truck in the driveway. Hurt quickly turned to confusion when he did not come inside. It was late, but my night was just beginning. My confusion turned to stone cold fear when I found him outside lying non responsive in the driveway. He was beyond intoxicated. He had severe alcohol poisoning.
The night consisted of the struggle to get him inside, cleaning him up repeatedly, frequently checking his pulse, keeping his airway open…and enduring the agonizing seconds when his breathing stopped. I maintained my vigil throughout the night, setting a timer for every 20 minutes just in case I fell asleep. The smell permeating the air was nauseating, so I was camped in the doorway of his room using the bottom stair as my altar of prayer. While he remained unresponsive, I prayed relentlessly. His heartbeat was faint, his breathing sporadic and the sight of him helpless was overwhelming.
Overwhelming, until that moment when I felt the ever gentle voice of My Father whispering so sweetly, “I am here”. As I held my son’s hand, my river of tears mixed with his sweat and the vile contents of his stomach. I had given up trying to keep him clean. I cried out to the Lord more than once to spare his life; I asked Him into the midst of our terrifying circumstance unapologetically, and He came.
Immediately, and for the first time, I noticed the little rubber bracelet he still wore imprinted with the words, “Pray First”. In that moment, I felt the full weight of one of my favorite scriptures, “ Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight. ”Proverbs 3:5-6
Trust. Faith. Submission.
I had obeyed. My reward was peace. You see, prayer was my first response that night and not my last resort. In return, the Lord was responding, assuring me He was in our midst. My gift was a blessed peace I will never understand, allowing me to fully care for my child with poise and calm.
I’ll spare you the rest of the details in his honor because it did get much worse, but know this:
No matter how frightening our circumstances are, no matter how hopeless and downtrodden our hearts may be- our Father in Heaven wants us to Pray First.
Because He wants to answer us quickly.
Pray continually, pray passionately, pray confidently. He will never fail to answer when you honor His heart first by seeking His will for your life- FIRST.
It is the only way to remain close to Him, in His heart, holding His hand. John 15:4 says in part “Remain in me, and I will remain in you”. His promises are pure and true.
In those precious few moments of terror, I prayed even before I knew what the night would bring. It would have been easy to panic. The first minute he was late- I prayed. The first unanswered phone call- I prayed.
You see, I was a step ahead of the situation.
God already knew; He was already in control.
The end result was already victory.
My son’s life was already spared.
My only requirement was to faithfully walk out the experience with my son and say, “Lord, I trust you. I am calm and I can perform under your power because I remain in you.”
Thank you in advance, for REMAINING IN ME.
You only live once; however, once is more than gracious enough if you do it the right way.
YOLO- if you fall and there is no one to help you up, the deadly sins of this world may provide a real good opportunity for one to die young.
Be someone else’s First Prayer.