The Lesson at the Prayer Vigil

Sunday, June 14, 2020

In the midst of the 2020 protests and riots, my small Wyoming community held an interfaith prayer vigil in a local park. Several preachers and pastors spoke, church choirs sang, the mayor and town police chief each spoke. It was a proactive attempt to unite our community and recognize God’s hand is needed to achieve such goals. It was a lovely effort but the greatest lesson I received that night came from a personal observation that had nothing to do with what was preached or pleaded. It came from watching a little girl play on the playground equipment while waiting for her family attending the vigil.

Here is some background. Wyoming is situated high in the Rock Mountains. The Continental Divide that divides the waters in the nation from either flowing into the Atlantic or Pacific runs right through this state. Due to the high altitude, our weather is not predictable. That’s not true, I claim we can have snow any month of the year here (although I never remember having a late August snow storm but technically it could happen and I wouldn’t be surprised). So the predictability is we can and have had snow in June. We have even had snow on the 4th of July. In short, June is not always reliable to plan an outside event.

Even though we had some beautiful summer like evenings the days prior to the vigil, the vigil itself was much cooler. Fact number one: I lose focus when I’m thinking how cold I am.

The vigil started at 6:00pm and when 7:30 rolled around we were still sitting in the park. Let me remind you, the evening was not a nice summer evening. Fact number two: I have a short attention span and lose focus when events take too long.

The preacher that spoke at 7:30 had an interesting story. For about five minutes. Then I remembered I was cold. I sat on the edge of my seat wondering if I’d be damned for leaving a prayer vigil early. Would that send a negative message? The only message of any importance to me at that time was staying warm.

At that time of restlessness, I looked over at the playground and saw a little girl about five or so climb up on the monkey bars. She held on with her hands and let her feet swing off the security of the ladder. It was a long drop down for her and she wasn’t moving. I was impressed that someone so little could cross so high of a bar. But she didn’t move. Her feet dangled and I watched as one sandal dropped and then the other. I recognized that plight. She was stuck and too scared to drop.

What was she going to do?

Soon a man came walking over to her. Perhaps she had called out and I couldn’t hear or maybe there was just a look shared. He smiled and wrapped his arms around her as she safely let go. I assume it was her father or grandfather that rescued her.

That in itself is a sweet story. And I diverted my eyes away from the playground looking for something else to catch my fancy. A few minutes later though, I turned back to the playground and saw the same little girl in the same predicament. Apparently, after her father rescued her she went right back and did the same thing again and found herself hanging in the exact same spot as before.

Again, her father walked over to her and rescued her. Now, I didn’t see how many times the girl repeated the action nor could I hear if her father gave her any warning like “I am not going to help you again.”

What Idid see is a little girl who did something a little unwise and found herself in circumstances beyond her control not just once but at least twice.

As I sat at that prayer vigil listening to polished preachers preach about unity and love the greatest lesson for me came from watching a father rescue his little girl more than once. If a father does that for his child here on earth shouldn’t we expect the same from our loving Heavenly Father?

We have gotten ourselves into a heck of a predicament even though we should have learned from our past and done things differently. Here we are dangling scared like that little girl. Remember, we have a loving Heavenly Father who sent His Son Jesus Christ to help us. We are not forsaken. Hang on. We, too, have the promise of being wrapped in the welcoming arms of our most loving Heavenly Father.

No matter how many times we climb up on those stupid monkey bars and get stuck.

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