Close Calls and Prayer

Close Calls and Prayer
Reflection by Fred Schaeffer, OFS

How many times have you experienced God’s healing hand when you really needed His help? Plenty of times. As I am retired and physically not so hot, I find myself very much alone. I’ve always lived alone but the older I get the harder being alone becomes. I take many stumbling blocks to prayer, because prayer always ends in a solution. My experience is that prayer works! About a year ago, I began to devote some time to praying for companionship of some sort. Had no particular expectations but I have faith and help was provided.

When you find yourself in difficult circumstances, feeling His Presence near, He listens to us. If you desire to hear Him, you must listen too. He talks to us quietly, but distinctly. Or, sometimes, he guides our thoughts to certain themes and we know that it is Jesus talking to us. I have cancer, being treated with chemo-therapy, and that is much on my mind and part of my prayer life. The chemo that began in January 2017 is helping. The cancer is almost gone. There are six chemo sessions left about every two months. It is my hope that the cancer will be totally in remission when the treatments are completed.

Partly because of my illness, I was provided with a Home Health Aide, a lady who comes twice a week to help me with light cleaning, vacuuming, doing the wash, taking care of me, and conversation. My prayer was answered. Her appearance Monday and Wednesday for a couple of hours really helped me cope with loneliness.

And about the same time I found a neighbor who helps me with exercise, walking, etc. She lives in the same mobile home park and so I see her more often. She is definitely an answer to my prayer. I am blessed, the Lord is listening, and He always provides a solution.

Another example of His presence. A few years ago, I was driving slowly into the entrance of my mobile-home park, and out of the corner of my eye, I saw some movement on top of a chain link fence. As I turned the corner, I realized it was a hawk, most likely a Sharp-shinned Hawk. I love hawks and owls and have studied them all, when I was still banding birds for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service years ago. Anyway, as there was no other traffic, I stopped the car and sat looking at this beautiful bird. I heard a soft voice ... He said, "I did it just for you." Thank you, Jesus!

Years ago, a friend tells a story. He is trying to cross a busy street but forgets to look both ways before running to cross. Too late, he realizes a truck is coming and he is in the way. Moments later, he finds himself sitting on the sidewalk on the other side of the street, not a scratch on him. Praise God - could only have been a miracle. I am sure it was.

There are many "close calls" and situations that need solutions, in our lives, and I hope that when these happen, we sit down, pray and thank the Lord! I remember once when I was cycling in Holland to get to school. I was about 12-13, I think. The street was one with embedded trolley tracks, the bane of bicycle riders. I managed to get my front tire stuck in one of the rails, and I fell headlong onto the street. My head fell very close to the wheels of a horse-drawn cart. It was almost all over. But it was not yet my time.

When I was slightly less than three years old, in fact in August of 1942, my mother, a Jewish convert to Catholicism, in the Netherlands, and I, were both arrested by the Nazi regime and sent to a concentration camp. Since I was so young, I can barely recall that time, in fact, I do not recall it at all. Perhaps a blessing, but I did not escape the nightmares (those I do recall) I had almost my entire young life, before we immigrated to USA in 1954. There is some confusion with dates how long we were there, but the fact is that we were let go a week or two later, since the Nazis (in those days) released former Jews who were married to Catholic men. This, incidentally, was stopped about a day or two after our release. After that, no one was let go, and that was sad.

The camp, mother and I were in, was at Amersfoort, the Netherlands - not a deathcamp but still a camp where many were beaten. Now, some 70+ years later, after having read about and studied what happened during this awful period in history, I realize how blessed I have been to come out of that adventure alive. I thank our Lord for having saved me and my mother (d. 1983). We lost more than half of her sisters, brothers and her mother to premature death in the camps. It was a very bad time. It took me a long time to forgive, but I shall never forget!

Yes, Jesus was in the camps, too. He was there to hug the victims, and to suffer with us. Without Him, I would not be writing this opus today. Praise God! Some people blame God that He permitted this amount of suffering. I feel He held me in His arms to make all this easier to bear and for that I am very grateful.

Thank God most of my readers, especially Americans, have never experienced this great cataclysm in their lives. Thank God that He has spared you these tough times. Because of WWII, I had a tough childhood and my teen years were nothing to crow about either. After my family and I immigrated to USA in 1954, things became better and my outlook on life brighter. I was close to Jesus even though there were years, many years that I was away from the church, but in 1985, I returned, and I’ve found God’s love in my life again. Praise God!

God bless you!
Fred Schaeffer, OFS

April 3, 2018

A Gift of a New Life
A Biography
by Fred Schaeffer, OFS 2019

Secular Franciscan Order
Ordo Franciscanus Sæcularis

Divine Mercy Fraternity

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