Reading through Will’s blog this week led me to reminisce about the inspiring faithfulness of his beautiful mom, Priscilla. Often, times of trouble can be true tests of one’s faith. When Priscilla first was diagnosed with cancer, she didn’t say “why me?” She said, “Please pray for me.” She waged her three-year battle against the illness with courage, humility, and trust in God. Toward the end of the last year when her options were limited, I can remember her saying, “You know Donna, it really stinks. I’m going to miss my family so much.” And then, after a brief silence, she added, “but it’s all up to God. It’s in His hands.”
Priscilla’s faith is the faith we studied this week in Bible study that Jesus calls us to. In chapter 11, Mark tells us that the day after Jesus rode triumphantly into Jerusalem, He woke up hungry. Along with His disciples, He passed a fig tree on the road that had great foliage, but no figs. In verse 14, He says, “May no one ever eat fruit from you again.” In this verse, the fig tree represents the character and the condition of God’s chosen people of Israel. Particularly those in leadership were all about an outward show of faith. They were a tree full of green leaves, but lacking any fruit. Their faith had become marked by empty ritual and legalism, and it no longer produced the fruit of worship. They no longer engaged in a close personal relationship with a faithful God and they did not live according to His expectations. Jesus’ words to the fig tree were God’s judgment on those “fruitless” people who had turned away from Him to pursue their own power and glory.
The next morning, as Jesus and His disciples traveled the same road to the temple, Peter said to Jesus, 22 “Rabbi, look! The fig tree you cursed has withered!” Jesus said, “Have faith in God.” 23 “Truly I tell you, if anyone says to this mountain, ‘Go, throw yourself into the sea,’ and does not doubt in their heart but believes that what they say will happen, it will be done for them.”
So now you may say, what does having faith in God and throwing a mountain into the sea have to do with a withered fig tree? Well, I’m glad you wondered that because I did too! In the language of the day, “moving a mountain” was a metaphor for doing something that was seemingly impossible. The empty rituals and the legalisms at that time were deeply rooted and they were a “mountain” blocking God’s people from enjoying the loving relationship with Him that they were created for. So Jesus is saying, have faith in God, and trust in Him with all of our hearts to remove any obstacles in life that separate us from Him.
Priscilla’s cancer was a mountain that could have threatened her relationship with the Lord. She could have blamed God and turned away from Him. But that was not the case. Her true faith put great power in her prayer. She knew she could trust God to move any mountain that might prevent her from bearing fruit for Him. As great as the pain of separation from her family would be, in her heart she held on to the promise of eternity in heaven with the Lord.
In the next line of this passage, Jesus says, 24“therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.”
Our God is a great God and a good, good Father. He is capable of granting any of our requests, and we should pray with confidence in His power, but also in submission to His will. We must ask with a godly, not self-gratifying motive, and our request must honor God and advance His kingdom. Priscilla prayed for healing of her body, heart, and spirit with confidence in His love and according to His will. Healing of her earthly body was not part of God’s plan for her life, but He “supplied her every need” and worked “all things together for good” as He lifted up her heart and spirit. Priscilla honored God and she advanced His kingdom in the faith of her family. In her final days, they honored God together in prayer, scripture, music, and in faith. Can’t you just hear God say, “well done good and faithful servant” when Priscilla took Her place in glory next to the Lord?
The final verse of that passage reads, 25 And when you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive them, so that your Father in heaven may forgive you your sins.” We cannot pray with sincerity if our heart is crowded with unforgiveness. We forgive and ask to be forgiven so that we may go before the Father in prayer with a free and pure heart to praise Him, thank Him, and bring our petitions before Him. Priscilla was the most warm and loving person I ever met, a genuine example of a free and pure heart.
Thank you Priscilla for reflecting the glory of God to those of us who had the privilege to be part of your life. We look forward to the day we join you in heaven.