A while ago, the news showed the Pope participating in a Drive-by. It didn’t involve gun shots or a high-speed getaway but rather a prayer, a kiss and a blessing.
Along a road the Pope was expected to be travelling, the family of a young woman set up posters requesting he stop and pray. Click here to watch the highly charged 30-second video clip that shows the Pope pull over, get out of his car and bless the woman. The surrounding family and friends stand alongside in excited, jubilant disbelief.
We too have been the subjects of drive-by blessings except in our case they were uninvited.
Our first drive-by took place in the spectacular Seville Cathedral. My husband and our son, JJ, were geekishly walking around the cavernous building listening to the auditory guide. I pushed Sam around in his wheelchair and prayed, whilst listening to the echoing heels and soaking in the beauty of a large stained glass window. Sam was listening to music leaking out of the speakers in his headrest when a Spanish women approached and, in English, asked me for directions to a specific Chapel. As I examined her map she looked down and smiled. I pointed out where we were and the location of the chapel in the room. Instead of walking away she hastily crossed my son’s forehead with her thumb, spoke a prayer in a language I didn’t understand and smiled, before making her leave. It was all over before I knew what had happened.
More recently we visited Salisbury Cathedral as a family. Most of the time my husband was pushing Sam while reading the plaques decorating the church and I helped JJ with his activity sheet. A kind lady in a long navy dress and clerical collar approached my husband and son. She bent low, placed her hand on Sam’s head and said a prayer of blessing on him. As she walked away my husband thought of all the things he wished he had said including,
“Don’t worry about him, he’s fine, but if you could pray for me that’d be great.”
As I pondered each Drive-by prayer I decided something wasn’t right. I believe prayer opens us up to seeing things the way God sees them and invites him into our world. But a drive-by prayer for a person who is disabled has a very disturbing underlying assumption. In churches packed with people, the two women who prayed for my son thought he needed prayer more than anyone else.
If you want to focus on Sam’s physical issues, then they are right. I guess if he was in a hospital, I would expect a doctor to see him as most likely in need of attention. Sam has more than his fair share of trials and he faces physical complications daily.
But spiritually? When it comes to his relationship with God, Sam is perfect. He doesn’t sin and he won’t make choices that squeeze God’s hope and love out of his life. When he gets to heaven Sam won’t need to let go of stuff that’s holding him back. He won’t need his spirit to be transformed in order to fit into the perfection of heaven because spiritually he already is perfect.
A long time ago a guy called Samuel was choosing a King for Israel and struggling with a similar issue. God said to him,
“The Lord does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” Samuel 16v7
I hope that one day instead of seeing Sam’s frailty and seemingly physical imperfections, I go to an ornate church and I’m approached by a kind person keen to pray for me. That someone sees past my working legs and capable arms to realise that I am the one most in need of prayer for my breaking heart and spluttering spiritual health.
If you pray for my son, thank you. Keep in mind though that he doesn’t need forgiveness and spiritually wholeness, it’s the rest of us that do.