“Gather Your Elephants” was written more than a year ago to share the power of my community of prayers that I lovingly call, “The Elephants.” Like the elephants that surround a birthing elephant and fight off predators during the birth process, praying believers who immediately surround you in prayer during a crisis provide protection in the spiritual warfare that ambushes us all at times. I have been blessed to have such a group of friends.
A few weeks ago we celebrated the one year anniversary of our eight-year-old grandson’s diagnosis of a cancer then unknown to us: T-cell lymphoblastic lymphoma. We have learned a lot about this cancer and the medications used to treat it during this year. We have also learned a lot about our faithful God who has held our entire family up as we prayed and reached out to our “elephant” prayer warriors.
Urgent phone calls from my daughter saying things like, “I need to take James for a blood transfusion,” or “Today’s hospital visit includes a spinal so James will be put under anesthesia and my anxiety will be sky high. Can you pray for me?” or “James isn’t able walk today... it’s a side effect of the chemo, can you pray?” trigger a series of texts to my herd of elephants. They are five women whom I know will immediately stop and pray,then continue to pray, then check in days later to follow up on how things are going. My response to the call for prayer is to pray and then respond saying, “I’m gathering my elephants.”
My other two daughters make up the rest of my small herd of elephants. They receive the texts when I do. They stop to pray and then send the need to their prayer “elephants.” And so the herd grows, the battle is faced on our knees, and we continue to see God sustain us.
Our family is facing another type of spiritual warfare this year involving a different daughter’s family. Sometimes needs are so personal that only the family can share them. This is one of those times. Rather than call on my friends, I contacted our grandchildren’s “other” grandparents to ask if they would join us in praying. Through the power of Zoom technology, we now join weekly to pray for our mutual grandchildren. I call them the “grandparent elephants.”
This past year was a difficult one for our family. But we did have some happy times too. We used Zoom to celebrate the first anniversary of James’s battle against cancer. We had a 20 minute dance party with all the parents and grandchildren joining together to dance around their living rooms to upbeat, fun music. It was exhausting. It made us all laugh and tease each other. It was beautiful, exhilarating worship. And yes, even some of the “elephants” were dancing.
David danced before the Lord with all his might. — 2 Samuel 6:14 (NRSV)
I join many of those who will pray for you as you seek to discern what you are called to be at this moment. May God grant you the courage to fulfill that calling. May we all open our eyes and see the misery, open our ears and hear the cries of God’s people, and, like God through the Lord Jesus Christ, be incarnate amongst them.”
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