30 Hours to Live By
For most of you who have been following along, you know that a friend of mine and of the entire Ace Hoops family was kidnapped on October 20th of this past year in Juarez. Eventually released and unharmed (with exception of a few bumps and bruises), I had the chance to sit down with Joel yesterday and listen to him open up and share about his experience, recalling the moments as if it were yesterday….
Throughout his narrative, Joel paused to comment on some of the ways this has impacted him spiritually, and while most of the insights that he shared with me may not be revolutionary, they were nonetheless powerful and I think worthy of retelling. Some of these words of wisdom include…..
(1) Even the smallest of prayers are heard by our big GOD. Joel said that he really cannot explain it except to say that he’s never been more at peace in his life than in these 30 hours. Even with hands tied and blindfolded, he said he never had a better night’s sleep. Even the bad guys commented about his snoring the morning after….”God has a sense of humor I think, because I slept like a baby. From hour one, I could feel the prayers lifted up all around the world.”
(2) When you’re in that place where it’s just you and God, fall back on God. Trust Him….Joel recounts spending his entire 30 hours in prayer, recalling Scripture, singing songs and psalms and imagining the stories of Biblical heroes like Daniel and “the men in the fire, because when you’re in the fire, the only source of strength and comfort is our God. And that’s it.”
(3) As James says, the prayer of a righteous person is both powerful and effective. In his one moment of emotion, Joel explains how his young son reacted to his father’s kidnapping. “My son is very perceptive and when he realized what had happened, his first reaction was one of fierce anger. ‘I will find these guys and kill them’ he told his grandpa. Then his grandpa turned to him and said, “Son, God has given us our own weapons. And the best weapon we have is the weapon of prayer. Pray to God. Tomorrow you will see your Father come home again….”
(4) Dig deeper! Invest yourself in prayer, fellowship and devotion to Scripture so that when your 30 hours arrives, you have built a strong foundation. “I don’t know what I would have done, where my thoughts would have turned, how I would have reacted–and, in the end, if I would have made it through alive–had I not been a man who took seriously the power of prayer and Scripture.
(5) Rather than just getting by, choose to live. Flooded with emotions following the incident, one common response for the common person is to flee. But believing that the home truly is making an impact with these children (and it is!!!), Joel puts it frankly, “We have choices. I could easily move and live a relatively comfortable and easy life somewhere in the states. I could get by in life. Or, I could use the passions that I’ve been given and do my best to use them for Him. I choose the latter, I choose real living.”
The prayer that I asked you all to join in as we headed down to Juarez was that God would reveal Himself more to us. Prayer answered! In closing up our conversation, Joel thanked me for allowing him to open up about this experience. He said that it’s therapeutic to talk about it, as it also gives him a chance to relive it….
Some of you may be thinking, as I initially did, why would you want to relive the most traumatic 30 hours of your life?
““Because,” as Joel explains, “it brings me back to the 30 hours where I was closest with my God.”