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The Invitation

Mason, our second son, came into our world as damaged material: He had Hurler’s Syndrome. That disease destroyed Mason’s body—it did not destroy us. It gave our family opportunities to share God’s unconditional love and to marvel in His unfathomable strength. Mason’s voice has not been heard, but his witness has gone to the ends of the earth.

The moonlight shining through the windows bathed our downstairs sunroom in soft shadows. I was alone and had been there praying after everyone else had gone to bed. You see, I had read something very distressing that day and I was seeking relief from my distress. The well-known, authoritative author had clearly stated, "The windows of heaven become as brass and your feeble requests fall unheard back to your knees when you pray without faith." That’s a difficult teaching for a mother whose child is incurably ill, mentally retarded, and visibly regressing each day; a child who has no knowledge of where he is or who he is, and who lives a long way from the bedroom that he shared with his brothers. Yes, a very difficult teaching.

The hours passed and I stayed there trying to find some solace in the quietness, direction, and understanding. I finally said, "Lord, I believe. I believe! I don’t know how to believe any better! Therefore, I claim healing for my little boy and I am going to stand on this declaration of faith. Thank You, Lord, for healing Mason! For healing him now! To think, Lord, that he has been a prisoner all of these years because of my lack of faith. Oh, Lord, I do believe! And Lord, all of the glory and honor will be yours. Mace and I will walk down the aisle together this Sunday morning and I’ll tell everyone how You touched him and healed him!" There was no brass above me, no hopeless requests falling around my knees. I believed! There were a lot more words—and tears—from Anabel to God, but that was the essence of my fervent, impassioned prayer. It was about 4:00 a.m. when I climbed the stairs—not to sleep, but to just imagine the miracle that had occurred and that I would see tomorrow. Mace was coming home!

I called the school right at 8:00 the next morning and asked for Mason’s social worker. I asked, "How is Mace today?" anticipating her excitement as she would relate to me the miraculous events of the night! "He’s just about the same Mrs. Gillham. Were you planning on coming over today?"

Disappointment? Defeat? Disillusionment? Guilt? Feeling betrayed? Hopeless? Oh, those and so many more emotions flooded my thinking for days. I couldn’t pray—I refused to pray. I felt like I had done all that I could do—that I had met God’s requirements and that He had found me lacking. But He had been a part of my "every days" for too long—I needed to talk to Him, to be in His presence—so my state of rebellion lasted for only about two weeks.

Once again I knelt in the sunroom, alone in the darkness, seeking answers—oh, God! How I needed answers! I talked to Him for most of the night, sobbing as I tried to explain my hurt and my deepest longings—the misunderstanding and confusion. In the early morning hours, God and I had a dialogue.

He made the first overture, saying very quietly, "Anabel, why do you want Me to heal Mason?"

"So I can have him at home with me. So I can hold him in my arms and tell him how much I love him. He can be a part of our family and get to know and love his brothers. And so I can teach Him about You. I can protect him and take care of him, Lord. I just want Mace to be with us—whole and well."

It was almost like a whisper: "Anabel, have you ever considered My home?"

"Your home? You mean taking Mason to heaven, Lord? You mean taking him to be with You?"

"Yes, Anabel."

"Oh, Lord! How thoughtless of me! I never even considered anything like that. How wonderful it would be—how marvelous—how incredible! Lord God, would you please, please take Mason home to be with You?" I visualized that homecoming: The joyful celebration, the angels singing and the bells ringing. There was a peace that came into my troubled heart, a quietness. I climbed the stairs and slept.

It was about a month later. Pres, Bill and I had driven to Enid State School to visit Mace. He was a little vegetable in a little bed, oblivious to us and to the world around him. We had one hour with him—that was all. We gently smoothed his hair, touched him, held his hand, and told him all the things we were doing—just as though he could understand. Our time was nearly gone. Bill said, "Let’s pray." We circled around Mason’s bed. Bill softly began; "God, we’ve tried to live victoriously and have used Mace’s life as an influence for Jesus’ power in our family for many years now. We love You and appreciate so much all You’ve done for us, but we feel that he has suffered enough and that all the influence for Christ that can be realized from his little life has pretty well been exhausted. So, we pray right now that You would take him home to be with You. In Jesus’ name, Amen."

We watched them push Mason’s bed down the hall until he was out of sight. There was very little conversation as we drove the long miles back home. We were all thinking about the time we had spent with our Mason that afternoon.

It was about 8:00 the next morning when the phone rang. Bill and Pres were coping—working out in the yard; I was keeping my mind occupied with chores in the house.

"Gillham’s residence," I answered.

"Mrs. Gillham, this is Enid State School calling. I have some very bad news for you. Your son, Mason, died last night and we can’t give you any reason. He seemed to be so stable. His condition had not worsened. We are so sorry and we can’t explain."

We had a praise time in our living room, thanking God for releasing our precious son from his earthly prison. Tears? Of course. Loneliness? Yes. Dreams that were never fulfilled? Yes. Second thoughts? A lot of them. Doubts? No. We knew—unequivocally—that God had heard and answered our prayer and He and Mace were together—at God’s invitation.

Released …
     From the chains that bound him
     To tread streets we’ve never trod.
     He’s running, laughing, walking,
     Touching, seeing, talking,
     He’s holding hands with God!

Released…
     From the halls of silence
     To hear sounds we’ve yet to hear;
     Angel choirs singing
     Praises to God ringing
     The voice of One so dear!

Released…
     From the bonds of darkness
     To see things we’ve yet to see;
     Mansions lovingly prepared
     Beauties that we’ve never shared
     The face of Him who died for me!

Released…
     To be with Jesus!

Released…
     Forever free!

Released…
Our son has been released!

And praise God! We, too, shall be!

About the Author

Anabel spent decades teaching in many contexts through Lifetime Guarantee Ministries. She has taught countless others how to have a genuine intimate faith and a sound marriage. She shared from her heart about living from the heart. Lifetime’s beloved founder and mentor passed away November 7, 2010. Her legacy and influence are timeless and priceless.