Steve couldn't die. He was young, with two teenage boys at home. As a geologist, he practically lived outside, and looked perfectly healthy.

But one Friday, Steve came home early from work. He had a bad headache. Sunday he had a seizure. Monday he went into the hospital for tests. Thursday we heard the results: three inoperable tumors at the brain stem. They gave him eight to nine months.

But surely God would heal him.

Points of Connection

As a pastor, I had no idea what to say to Steve or his family, or even how to pray in light of his diagnosis. Sermons you can plan for, but not a friend's terminal illness. And Steve was certainly a friend.

A few years ago, Steve and his wife joined a small group of us for an eight-week Bible study. We met at our house over chocolate-chip cookies and coffee. During those times Steve and I discovered that we had more in common than just our church.

We were both pastor's kids for one thing. Both of our parents went to Moody Bible Institute, and were involved in the General Association of Regular Baptist Churches. As a result, both Steve and I were raised with strict family rules—no movies, dancing, cards, rock-n-roll, or even fashionable clothes. "Come out from among them and be separate," meant "if they are having fun, then leave!"

Thanks in part to our bizarrely parallel upbringings, we became good friends. Steve was fun. He had a first-year (1985) Toyota MR2 sitting in his garage. We talked about getting it running. He and his wife Janet had dated in that car. The brown trim matched her eyes and they just couldn't bring themselves to sell it. Steve was frugal though, and couldn't justify spending money on parts. But it was fun to talk about all the same.

An Uncommon Prayer

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