Decades ago, a little book flourished in the Christian Community. Many folks read it and recited the words within it. It was about 4”x4” in size. I was one of the folks who prayed what the book described in the few chapters it held before I got out of bed each morning.
I was a stay at home, home schooling mom with 4 littles romping around. My circle of influence was small. I often wondered how God could ever use me in this little area of my basement classroom. It seemed impossible. I kept praying and wondering and reminding Him that I was just willing. That was all there was to offer.
Even today, my sphere is small. Our house is comfortably cozy for the three of us and stuffed when the other 5 come home. We don’t mind because those days are fleeting and we know they soon evaporate.
But recently, someone said something to us that made me realize our influence extends beyond the walls of our house. During Matt’s recent hospitalization, we had a day nurse whose demeanor was guarded. She was very nice and a capable nurse but I could tell there was a protective shell over her heart.
Eventually, she revealed she was a single mom of five children. She grew up with a single, deaf mom, which made her the target of bullying as a child. We mostly listened but I was certain to thank her for helping us every time she left the room. She was training a new nurse that day. And at the end of the day, an hour past the end of their shift, she was in the room. I remarked that New Nurse had survived the first day. And her reply surprised me.
Then, I watched over the next few days the heart change of our veteran day nurse. We didn’t do or say anything extraordinary to her. We just cared for our son. We transitioned in and out of Matthew’s room. His older siblings had extended their stay a few days and were available to break up our normal 12 hour shift into more manageable segments. So she watched the dynamics of our diverse family operate the way we have learned to capitalize on each person’s strengths.
I watched her countenance as the doctors with the train of residents came in and we spoke with the neurologist. I caught her eye as I challenged this wonderful doctor on some of the things he said and reminded him that we needed a better plan so we didn’t land in the hospital for the same thing every 2 years.
Then, I noticed this nurse would come to our room for no reason and she would linger. We didn’t need anything but she needed something from us. She needed what the New Nurse had observed.
New Nurse had told us that our room was her ‘high point’ of the day. Please be sure that you understand it was NOT US. It was the presence of Jesus in that room that drew those nurses back for no reason except His peace and calm.
So if you are not familiar with the little prayer that has changed our lives over and over in the many, many years since I prayed it every morning, you might want to pray it as well. It’s called the prayer of Jabez:
"And Jabez called on the God of Israel saying, 'Oh, that You would bless me indeed, and enlarge my territory, that Your hand would be with me, and that You would keep me from evil, that I may not cause pain.' So God granted him what he requested."
Often our sphere of influence has been because of Matthew’s traumatic brain injury. It’s been in Emergency Rooms; in the fight for care for the vulnerable; in the hospital rooms where we could bring a moment of healing to the injured heart of a wounded nurse; in places we never really planned to travel.
So, think hard about whether you are really WILLING to go where He asks you to go. The journey may be challenging and harder than you anticipate. I promise you, if you go as the ambassador of Christ, He will give you what you need to minister in the way He needs. And along the way, there will be sharp corners sanded off and deep character germinating within your soul because you realize the only source is Him. Your hopes and desires and ideas of how this prayer can be fulfilled will look different than your wildest imagination. And it will be so much better.
I challenge you to ask God to enlarge your territory. Then watch to see what doors open before you. And see the peace of Christ develop new rooms in your heart.