I love you guys...and yes I mean you.
God has blessed me with a loving family, terrific friends and a wonderful church family. He has also blessed me with numerous Christian brothers and sisters that I've never met face to face...people I only know via blogging or as Facebook friends...people like some of you.
A lot of people think the internet is good for nothing but trouble...an inherent place of evil and evil doers. I beg to differ. I believe the world wide web is bursting with opportunities for God, but as Christians, we have to make that happen...lead the charge. Parents all the time express distress to me about the unknown activities of their teenagers on the internet. My answer to them, without reservation, is to get out there and see what they are doing. Be proactive. Set boundaries and expectations. I blogged about this in December (see I can do anything you can do better...). Christians should neither shun nor fear the internet, blogs or social networking. Let me give a very personal reason why...
On Friday, yours truly had to have a heart catheterization. Several recent heart test were saying something might be wrong with Tony C's ticker, and my cardiologist wanted to take a closer look. A heart cath is a scary procedure, so I requested prayer with my church family and a prayer group I've recently joined on Facebook via invitation.
Like I stated, I'm blessed with great family and friends. I received a number of calls, texts, emails and words of encouragement from a lot of them, and I know the one's I didn't hear from who knew about the procedure were bathing me in prayer. On Friday, my wife and parents were with me. My pastor and a youth leader from church were the first to visit me afterwards. Many prayed for me, and I could feel their concerns. I'm very reluctant to say things about health issues, but I've gotten better since beating cancer 5 years ago. I now completely understand the power of God's people to intervene on my behalf with prayer. I have been greatly blessed by each gesture of Christian love shown through this time.
One in particular, however, has stood out to me as a shining example of how internet fellowship is as real and meaningful as the fellowship we have as Christians meeting together on Sundays. I told you I had recently joined a Facebook prayer group by invitation and had been receiving prayer request almost daily. A fellow blogger had pointed me in the direction of this particular prayer group. Most of the Christians in the group live hundreds of miles from me, yet we collectively use the awesome gift of prayer to lift each other up to God.
The fellow blogger, David, writes Fire and Grace, and we exchange blurbs and comments on each other's blogs and on Facebook. David is both a talented writer and deep thinker...and a kindred soul in the humor department. I enjoy his post and always find myself challenged by his muse. Last Thursday, the day before my procedure, David requested prayer because he had lost his job that very afternoon. I noted even in his prayer request, David seemed so upbeat and confident in the fact that God is in control and he would be okay.
The messages of encouragement poured in on Thursday, as I said, and each was a tremendous blessing. Around 8:30, I was chilling on the couch, and my wife was busy preparing for the next day. We were gearing up for 'date night' which, until the season finale Thursday night, revolved around Grey's Anatomy (don't judge...as Lula would say). My phone beeped to let me know I had a text message. I opened it to read the following message:
Tony. Lord be with you tomorrow. I'm praying. David
I can't begin to describe the overwhelming feeling of God's love that blanketed me that very instant. Wow! This man had just on this day lost his job in very troubling economic times, and yet he thought enough of a fellow Christian to send me words of encouragement and reassurance. A man I've never met, a man I've never spoken to on the phone...a man that truly understands the love and selflessness of Christ. I believe God was letting me know everything would be okay through David's thoughtfulness.
God is on the internet and His people should be too. I know there are a lot of temptations also on the internet, but those same threats surround us in every day life too. We need to take Satan head on in this fight. By making a connection of fellowship with other Christians around the world, we are better positioned to lift each other up to God in times of trouble, to encourage one another, and even be better equipped with knowledge and understanding...we are stronger for God.
My test results showed no blockage around my heart...but my heart is definitely bigger because of the ordeal. Thank you God for the blessing and may it be returned to my brothers and sisters in You...and Lord...I pray that my brother David finds a great job soon.