One Friday evening in the spring of 2015, my husband and I attended an author friend’s book launch in a cozy local coffee shop. It had been a long week and I was fatigued, but it was important for me to be there to support my friend. My husband and I ordered hot drinks—I had a cup of camomile tea, my favourite—and for a treat, I ordered a gluten-free muffin for me and some cake for my husband.
It was a gorgeous evening, and it was lovely to sit back and marvel at the colours of the sunset sky through the large store windows. My friend launched into a reading of her book, and I sat back with my tea, relishing the opportunity to unwind.
In a blink of an eye, somehow my tea went down the wrong “pipe.” I couldn’t talk or breathe. My eyes grew wide and I frantically tried to signal to my husband by pointing to my throat and mouthing, “I can’t breathe.” My husband sat still, frozen in place. I’m not sure if he panicked or whether he didn’t understand what was going on or he didn’t want to make a scene (or all of these), but he just sat there staring at me. And still I couldn’t breathe.
Our body’s normal reaction to something being aspirated into the lungs is to cough. But somehow, I was not able to. It went through my mind that I was going to die right then and there, because I didn’t know how to clear the liquid out of my lungs. I was suffocating right there in the middle of the coffee shop, right in the middle of friend’s reading—my back was to her, so she didn’t see what was going on—and no-one knew (or in my husband's case, knew how) to help.
So I prayed.
And, praise God, the liquid cleared from my lungs. As I struggled to breathe, I started hoarsely coughing. The episode certainly took a toll on my voice that night (a concern for a singer such as myself) and I had difficulty sleeping, likely because I was worried about the after-effects of aspiration, which after all, can be very dangerous.
Too rarely do we think about the fact that our lives can be snuffed out in a second. As I was thinking about writing about this story, I remembered another time 10 years or so ago when I was driving home from the hospital after receiving an upsetting diagnosis. I always pray when get into my car that the Lord will protect me (and my family, if they are with me) as I am out and about. But because I was upset, I had forgotten to pray. As I pulled up to a red light a minute or so after I left the parking lot, I remembered to pray my prayer. The light turned green and I started to pull forward. Out of the corner of my eye I saw a black car coming at right angles to me speed through his red light, and I immediately stopped. If I had not prayed, I am sure I would have been hit full on, on the driver’s side. It was another scary moment, but I praise God that He saved me that time too by whispering prayers to the One Who saves.
Which leads me to the symbolism of this photo of a woman holding a butterfly in her hand. In one instant, she could have closed her hand over this butterfly and crushed it. In one instant, through no fault of our own, we could lose our lives. But this is the power of prayer: in the one instant we could be crushed, we can choose to say a prayer. And God always hears the prayers of His people.
Always, always, remember the power of prayer.