A pre-dawn phone call jolted me from a deep sleep. The caller ID read CHARITY.
Charity is our daughter; our eldest child.
“Dad!” she gasped. The panic in her voice was unsettling. I was fully awake. I braced myself for her next sentence. My wife, Susan, was standing near me, and I grabbed her wrist and gave it a squeeze. “You have to pray!” Charity said. “Allie is in an ambulance with Timmy. She isn’t breathing.”
Allie is my granddaughter, ten months old at the time. She was born four days after Charity’s nineteenth birthday. The two of them shared Charity’s bedroom in our Florida home until about three months before this call. Charity moved to San Francisco to make a life with Allie’s father, Timmy. Now, at ten months old, Allie was speeding through the streets of San Francisco in an ambulance. This is a nightmare.
“Why isn’t she breathing? What happened?” I asked.
“I don’t know! Timmy only told me she isn’t breathing. I’m on my way to the hospital. Please, you and Mom pray!” I assured her we would, and she hung up.
We prayed. I called my close friend, Dan, and got him and his wife, Cheryl, out of bed to pray, too. They wanted to know what happened, and I told them I didn’t know. “All I know is Allie isn’t breathing.”
“What did she get into?”
“Was something dangerous left out?”
“Was something harmful left where Allie could reach it?”
Susan and I talked over one another as we tried to fill in the blanks. Our minds were racing. We felt helpless and useless as we waited for more news. What else could have possibly happened? We didn’t want to think it. Please, Jesus! Do you hear us? She’s only a baby! Please bring her back to us whole and healthy!
We were in shock. I wanted to do something more than pray. I needed to fix this. But all we could do is pray.
We didn’t know it yet, but our lives were on the edge of chaos. We were about to learn that our lives needed to be more connected to God, that we needed to pray more. Prayer was always instinctive, the easiest thing we could do. In our faith community, it’s second nature to grab a friend and pray together. But prayer was going to become difficult for us. We were entering a season where we were convinced our prayers weren’t being heard. We were going to need prayer more than ever.
Susan and I were in a holding pattern as we waited for more information. We wished the phone would ring. And then it did.