A Flare Prayer

“Lord, please make it rain NOW!”

It was hoarse whisper. I was flat on my face, in the grass on the hillside. My left hand grasped my single weapon and I kept my head low. Advances had been made, but the enemy, thoroughly aroused, now swarmed through the area. I had been hit once but thankfully it was a minor wound.

Outnumbered by over a hundred to one, there was only one recourse: the PrAir Force! A “flare prayer” is an urgent petition to God that comes directly from the heart in a desperate situation. In this situation I knew that rain would be the only force guaranteed to drive the enemy forces back into their barracks. And even a brief couple of minutes would be enough time to complete the mission before the deadline.

That morning, my rising time was 3:30. At 5:05 it was time to gear up. My boots were not of military material, just second-grade farm boots. Goggles and ear plugs were enough for head gear. My “weapon” was the weed-whacker, well-fueled.

A few steps up the hill I realized something was wrong. My left boot had a hole just large enough to let in generous amounts of moisture from the dewy grass. I made a quick turnaround, secured boots first-grade, and remounted the hill. Would it be too late? Several minutes later I arrived at the enemy outpost: the far beehives, shrouded in overgrown weeds. It was the weeds, not the bees, that were the actual “enemies” in this scenario. But the bees could be enemies if they wanted to. And if they sensed disruption they would want to. I hoped they had not yet begun their morning drills. It was about 5:30, half an hour before official sunrise. Dark clouds were gathering, all but obscuring the morning sunlight. The deadline was 6:30.

It was barely light enough to see. Lightning flickered in the south. Gingerly I worked my way below the hives to see if there was any sign of activity. To my dismay I saw a blanket of bees covering much of the hive’s front. According to Michael, they are often on the alert early, or even all night long, during the longer summer days. I could hear them too. They were poised for action, itching for enough light to begin their flights. Stooping down so that the silhouette of the hive’s entrance showed against the sky, I discovered that very few were flying. I had a little time.

Mission One was priority: trimming around the hedge of holly bushes. Eleven of them semi-circled the hives at a distance of about 8 feet. Everything was gray but I could make them out. With the weed-whacker humming I circled the first one cautiously. Success! The second one was smaller and harder to see but soon it was done. Three. Four. Now I was directly in front of the hives, in the bees’ flight path, trying to keep low. At about bush number eight it became necessary to stop and cut away some netting from one of the bushes. That took some time. When I finished the hedge it was well past 6:00.

Mission Two. Wearing Michael’s elbow-length bee gloves and encouraged by a light sprinkle of rain, I decided to advance inward and do around the hives themselves. I kept repeating Michael’s words “Those hives are the more gentle hives”, “Those hives are the more gentle hives” . . .

In the same counter-clockwise motion, I began a sweep directly in front of the hives, tilting the weed-whacker to keep the clippings from spraying the hives. I passed the first one then the second—the big one—and the third. At around hive number four came the first sign of trouble: a bee caught in my hair. This can be a harmless occurrence and it is harder for a bee trapped in your hair to actually sting, but it does make that bee angry and it’s a sign that there are probably other bees going into defense mode at the same time. I crouched lower and sped up a little. It didn’t help. I felt a couple more “dive-bombers” hitting my scalp, then a sting on my right leg. I certainly deserved it. To escape I crept away from the hive slowly and flattened myself on the ground. The sprinkle had not been enough! Looking up against the dim sky I could see the ever-present clouds, but also now, dozens of bees. They were not running their simple back and forth flights, they were buzzing about seeking the source of their disturbance. It was hard to believe I had been standing there where the bees now swarmed.

Success in the maneuver required an early approach.They are early risers too.A low position is the position from which we may look up!

What now? Surrender and go home? This job was for Michael. And a sting or two was to be expected. I might never get another morning to take care of this job, let alone an early morning with a chance of rain! If only it would rain! The time was about 6:20. If it rained now there would be enough time to finish the job.

It was also a time to reevaluate my motives. I was confident that if my motives truly were one of a servant, I could trust the will of my Commander in Chief. This was His operation. Certainly He could send help from above. There in the grass I remembered that the success of the mission depends upon my relationship with the One who sent me on the mission.

That is when I prayed “Lord, please make it rain NOW!” A bolt of lightning added quite the dramatic affect. My expectations “brightened”. But then I realized that with the bees in an agitated state it might take a particularly hard rain to dissuade them from pursuing their target. I hadn’t thought of that. So I added: “Please make it rain now, HARD” and then breathed an “Amen”. Hardly was the word out of my mouth when there came another splendid bolt of lightning. The drizzle turned into rain, huge drops of rain, and the rain into a downpour—a downpour you would hardly believe, a downpour I would hardly believe! He did it! He really did it! For me!

I stood up, I picked up the weed-whacker once more and completed the mission. I trimmed behind the hives. I finished in front—their very doorstep! The bees had gone inside! The field was mine! Even “Mission 2” was complete! The last weeds fell. I gathered the netting scraps and jogged home. Inside, the clock read 6:32.

How often in these past months the same scenario has presented itself in various ways. What a different, frustrated person I would certainly be if I didn’t have the smile of the Commander in Chief Whom we have chosen to serve. He finds so many ways to put meaning in our tasks. He transforms the to-do list into a treasure chest of stories: sometimes a wild adventure, sometimes a sense of peace, assurance, and fulfillment. Either way, we may encourage our heart in the Lord, as David did when the going was tough. (See I Samuel 30:6.) The Lord is worthy of our loyalty. He is worthy of everything we have. On His side we can continue our advance, moving onward and upward in the battle.

Activate the PrAir Force in your family. Make prayer a regular thing. Then as you go into the day “Keep your powder dry and a flare prayer at the ready” for any kind of surprise situation may arise. (Do keep your flares in a different pouch than your powder though.)  Remember your Commander as you complete His mission. He is in charge and He is ready always to send help from above.

“As free . . . but as the servants of God” (I Peter 2:16).

7 Comments

  1. Samantha Ant July 21, 2011 at 3:35 pm #

    WOW!! What a story! I would of never been able to get that close to our hives!!! I am glad that God provided the rain!

  2. Esther Staddon July 22, 2011 at 6:54 am #

    What a perspective! As I read it I couldn’t help but think “This sounds like a Character First Nature Story!” May we all make great advances as we keep the smile of our Commander in Chief!

  3. Matthew July 22, 2011 at 5:44 pm #

    Thanks for sharing! What a great reminder of where our strength lies! It took me a little while to figure out the true scenario – like a Character First story.

  4. Michael July 23, 2011 at 1:58 pm #

    Thanks for your diligent and faithful help in so many things, Donald! Praise the LORD that He cares about even the little things in life. He turns the things that no one would care about into testimonies that can encourage anyone!

    Jehovah Shama – the God Who hears
    El Azar – God Who is our Helper
    El Misgab – God Who is our Defense
    El Qarowb – God Who is Near (of personal relationship)

    http://www.faithcycleministry.org/HalWarren/NamesOfGod.php

    A skeptic would say it would have rained anyway – in other words, God always had intended for it to rain right then, right when you needed it. It is significant that you had the joy of asking for it according to His will. The other day when we had a really nice rain that we really needed, Mom got back from a shopping trip (we minimize our trips out of the “holler” by doing all our shopping at once) and she said it hadn’t rained anywhere else she had been. I don’t know where it did rain, but I was sure glad it rained here! These are things to be mindful of and thank our God for. (Deut. 8:10-20)

    Disclaimer: If you are being stung by bees and wish to prevent further stings, run in a straight line (a “bee-line”) 🙂 for the nearest enclosure. Staying low and running under obstacles such as trees can also help. Lying down is not a way to prevent stinging, but may sometimes confuse the bees regarding their target. If a bee leaves its stinger in your skin, scrape it out quickly. Most people are not severely affected by bee stings – a temporary stinging sensation followed by moderate swelling, soreness, stiffness, and itching for a day or two in the vicinity of the sting is not serious and will go away, but can affect your mobility. Allergic over-reactions include nausea, breathing trouble, and skin rashes or “hives” remote from the sting location. At the FIRST sign of these symptoms you should contact or visit a physician. Also, if you live where African bees are prevalent (FL, TX, NM, AZ, southern CA), be especially alert for bee activity in brush, holes, buildings, old tires, mailboxes, etc. – and do not disturb them – contact pest control.

  5. Mrs. Christi August 3, 2011 at 4:41 am #

    That was a great story. Thanks for sharing Donald. And Michael, thank you for that information. I hope it is okay to print out and put in my health notes for future reference!

  6. Diane October 2, 2011 at 2:57 pm #

    Your writing style TOTALLY made me smile! Very vivid!

  7. Patience March 27, 2012 at 12:03 pm #

    How encouraging it is to see someone write so dramatically and with such enthusasium and faith for a seemingly regular task. I also enjoy how you encorporate the idea of a battle in the whole things. It helps me have more of an idea of how to relate ” the real battle” to my brothers.
    Patience

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