Back in November, we enjoyed the blessed company of an Aunt and Uncle who braved the Atlantic, the british rail network and the M25 in order to be with us for a few days during their vacation; yet another of the many blessings we have to count for the 2012 we weren’t considered to actually have as much of as we have had.
One night, Aunt Charlotte shared with us some photos of folks from her church family who are committed to praying for us. It’s a special blessing as unusual as it is wonderful, to see the face of someone you’ve never met before and yet form an immediate and deep bond that makes the bond of a hundred other earthly friendships you’ve cultivated over years and years feel like nothing more than shallow acquaintances by comparison.
To us the photos of these prayer warriors deserve to be on our mantlepieces, framed on our walls and in our family albums – they are that dear to us. Aunt Charlotte had a story for each treasured face but one stood out especially:
“Now this precious one here always refers to your dearest as ‘My Annie'”
Strictly speaking, there are very few people who can refer to another person as ‘mine’. The first folks who could make that claim on Annie would be her mother and father. As a daughter, she was a gift to them from God so that they might be the first to rightfully claim “This is our Annie – our beautiful, precious daughter.” Annie’s brother, Tim, could rightfully claim “This is my Annie – my sister.” (…brothers in their childhood are often sparse on endearing adjectives for their sisters…) Grandparents could rightfully claim “This is our Annie – our lovely granddaughter.” And aunts and uncles: “This is our Annie – our adorable niece.” And one mustn’t forget the slice of the action that cousins get to claim also!
On the day of our wedding, Annie’s parents entrusted to me ‘their Annie’ that I might – as Annie’s husband – be the first non-blood relative that could claim “This is my Annie.” Even now, that doesn’t seem to have plummeted the necessary depths for me to say that it has sunk in. What an incredibly wonderful responsibility and privilege – given ultimately, by God.
I recall with great clarity how much I have enjoyed – and still cherish – being able to use the phrase “My wife…” at almost any given or contrived opportunity! It’s not a privilege that I relinquish or share lightly! The only person who can lay a greater claim on my Annie is my Lord Jesus to whom all that I have belongs.
And yet when I heard Aunt Charlotte tell me that this complete stranger claims “My Annie” in prayer, I couldn’t be happier and less possessive! We have many family and friends – believers and unbelievers – whom we love dearly, but not all can truly lay claim to my Annie like that. ‘My friend’, yes. ‘My dear friend’, sure; but not ‘My Annie’.
My Annie has been admitted this morning to the hospice (note, not the hospital) where she spent some time last April. She has a lovely private room and is settling down well. She’s eaten well and rested well. They suspect a throat infection may be the cause of the fever and still consider the fluid on the lung as resulting from the cancer but remain unclear how. They’d like to keep her in for a week or so where they can monitor Annie and spend a bit more time trying to find some things out especially regards to the pain in her spine which they suspect could be a cracked vertebrae – I can share more about that in another post.
I dropped by our home earlier to get a couple of hours rest and some supper before heading back to the hospice. As I was about to leave, our home began to fill with dear brothers and sisters who had come together to pray for us both in the place where we would ordinarily have been. One after another they came in just like they have been doing throughout the last 14 months – at least on a weekly basis, through day and night, through thick and through thin. They make us feel like we were their very own flesh and blood; their son or their daughter; what a double blessing that our own mothers and siblings are numbered among such prayer warriors! They make us feel like we are their most treasured possession – not just because they sacrifice time and energy for us…but that they do so to lay us up to our Lord Jesus – their Lord Jesus.
These are among the many to whom we are both especially, exclusively, immensely – even immeasurably – thankful to God for; these are among the many that – as Annie’s husband – I am honoured and privileged to share the entitlement, the right to claim this precious one as “My Annie!”
To fellow followers of our Lord Jesus Christ, brothers and sisters far and wide, known and unknown, related by the shed blood of Jesus Christ alone, who are lifting us up to Him: Thank you. We are overwhelmed by your faithfulness in prayer. You are as much a part of our journey and testimony as our own words and actions.