When God Intervenes

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I’ve seen it. I’ve seen God intervene in “hopeless” situations. I’ve seen families, ours included, told to prepare for a loved one’s imminent death. I’ve seen that person get up out of their hospital bed in the ICU and go home. I’ve seen it more than once, and on this last day of the year, the day for counting blessings, I thank God that this year he allowed me to see it again.

I’ll leave the telling of details and the giving of evidence to my friend when she is ready. I have also learned that people who believe God no longer intervenes in our lives with healing miracles tend to dismiss the documented proof anyway. Even when our daughter and son-in-law included the testimony of a doctor who was involved in his case in their book (While He Lay Dying), some people disregarded it, thinking there must be another explanation.

One person said, “Okay, he got better this time, but who’s to say he won’t get hit by a bus tomorrow?” Another, who couldn’t handle the truth because of her own disappointment, said, “Sometimes I think we give God too much credit. Sometimes these things just happen.”

Believe it. Don’t believe it. It’s not my job to convince you. It’s my job to give God the glory and to thank and praise him for his goodness.

I hadn’t seen this friend for at least three years. When we attended the same church, she gave me a ride home from another city where we had both been visiting family. We had a great time. I knew she wanted children and we prayed about that. Life changes resulted in moves and being in different circles, but I saw the occasional Facebook post. I was happy to see God granted their prayer for children.

The day I saw her post asking for prayer for their little boy I knew somehow that God was going to answer again. I think sometimes he gives us a gift of faith for a specific person. The basic facts were these: the child’s body was overwhelmed with a lung infection and then sepsis, treatment had been unsuccessful, his heart stopped for four minutes during last ditch surgical intervention, the parents were told to say goodbye, they were on the other side of the world in the same country where I support a child whose dream is to someday live in a house that has a real cement floor.

I remember a friend who is a physician telling me that one of the hardest parts of practising medicine in an isolated area is knowing that the advanced technology that could have saved a patient is far away in a teaching hospital in a big city. She told me about the time her patient with a severe case of the flu was saved with a heart/lung machine that was not available in most places. When our son-in-law was at his lowest and we were told to say goodbye, he was too fragile to be transported to a city with such technology. But God intervened anyway and miraculously saved his life.

At first, I prayed for an ECMO machine for my friend’s child, then stopped because I let the limits of my logic get in the way. I didn’t think a bypass machine would be an option in a less developed country. If small cities in Canada didn’t have them, I thought they probably didn’t have one where this family lived now. I kept praying for a miracle and invited my Facebook friends to join. Bless them, many did, and kept up with bulletins.

This is where my ignorant assumptions needed an adjustment. A hospital on the other side of this huge city not only had an ECMO machine, they had one that was portable. They were going to attempt to use it and transfer the little guy to the larger university hospital. It was a risky mission. The mom told us that vehicles in this city were not in the habit of letting ambulances pass them. Traffic is a major problem. (I’ve seen the videos. Yikes!)

They needed to move quickly. One of my Facebook friends (who I’ve never met in person and who lives on the other side of Canada) said that while she prayed for the child, she had an image of angels parting traffic ahead of them to get him there. We prayed for rapid transit.

The next morning, I checked Facebook on my phone as soon as I woke up. My jaw dropped and tears came to my eyes when I saw a video Mom  filmed from the front seat of the ambulance. Traffic, which was extremely heavy, parted like the Red Sea ahead of them and the road was clear. They made it in record time.

The little boy recovered much more rapidly than anyone thought possible. He awoke from the coma without any brain damage and was soon home riding his favourite toy.

The beauty of many people joining to pray is that no one person can take credit. I am so thankful for advances in medicine and don’t believe a healing using modern medical methods is a second-class healing, but medical people face limitations all the time. It must be so hard when they have to say, “I’m sorry. There is nothing more we can do.”

In the end, all healing is from the Designer of these bodies.

Sometimes he intervenes in a totally miraculous way, sometimes he speeds ups the healing process, sometimes he becomes people’s keeping power through pain and testing and, I believe, sometimes he sets people free from suffering by allowing them to step out of their broken bodies and into his presence.

I don’t know why some people are healed by miraculous intervention and some are not. I only know that those who pursue the healing Jesus’ stripes bought us see a lot more miracles than those who comfort themselves with a self-protecting theology formed by disappointment. No matter the outcome, when we continue to draw closer to the One who loves perfectly, our relationship deepens.

On this last day of the year, when it would be so easy to look back and count losses as I adjusted to limitations of a body that is not yet healed, I choose instead to say I have seen the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living with my own eyes. To God be all the glory!

I trust you, Lord! More, please!

As Different as Chalk and Cheese

Sometimes I wonder if one of the greatest miracles Jesus performed was to keep the disciples from killing each other. This week, as I watched another political/religious family feud break out on social media I remembered that Jesus, born into a time of political high tension, took both a collaborator and a resistance fighter on a road trip. It’s time to re-blog this.

Charis: Subject to Change

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I grew up in a family where teasing was a form of affection. Wrestling, practical jokes, funny stories that revealed weaknesses in each other? All normal (to us). To those not accustomed to this way of relating, such play appeared intimidating and offensive. Most of the time we knew where the line was, but in the background, we often heard someone warning, “You had better stop now before someone gets hurt!”

And then someone got hurt. A line was crossed. For one of the participants the action wasn’t fun anymore. Teasing became bullying (to them). Fights ensued.

Like many parents, we discovered our children’s individuality early. One liked to cuddle. The one who had to move-it move-it move-it resented the restraint of adult arms. One cried easily, one bounced back like an inflatable clown punching bag, one treasured solitude, and one was happiest when surrounded by 27 of her closest…

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I Long to Drink of You

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I long to drink of you, O God,
drinking deeply from the streams of pleasure
flowing from your presence.
My longings overwhelm me for more of you!

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My deep need calls out to the deep kindness of your love.
Your waterfall of weeping sent waves of sorrow
over my soul, carrying me away,
cascading over me like a thundering cataract.

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Yet all day long God’s promises of love pour over me.
Through the night I sing his songs,
for my prayer to God has become my life.

(Psalm 42:1, 7, 8 The Passion Translation)

Planting

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I planted daffodil bulbs today. They’re not very pretty. It’s hard to imagine what they will become.

In fact, the entire garden is not very pretty in November. We’ve had snow already, and some nose-under-the-covers cold nights. The snow melted, but today is my brother’s birthday, and as far back as I can remember the kind of snow that stayed always arrived on or shortly after his birthday.

I’m in mourning for the season of colour. A hard freeze turned the willow tree brown overnight. The plum tree leaves heaved a sigh and waved goodbye without the annual flash of red before departing. The snapdragons lay strewn about like the last soldiers to fall in a battle the other side will record in their history books. Saying goodbye is never easy.

Today may be the last day the soil can be worked before it freezes. So I worked it, digging holes and dropping humble brown bulbs into them. Then I buried them. Now they rest.

The Lord is speaking to me about both hope and letting go these days. I decided to plant some hope in the form of daffodil bulbs. The deer ate all my tulips last year, but I noticed the daffodils failed to impress them. They did impress me though. I love the early spring flowers that find their way through the detritus of winter. I planted more.

Sometimes, in the spring, seeds will germinate within a few days. These bulbs will wait for six months. Sometimes the things we plant spring to life right away. Sometimes they take so long, we forgot we even planted them. I am learning to let go of my desire for immediate reward. I recognize now that some of the truths planted in my life in past cold blustery seasons are only now starting to bloom in my heart — in His time.

For there will be peace for the seed: the vine will yield its fruit, the land will yield its produce and the heavens will give their dew; and I will cause the remnant of these people to inherit all these things.

(Zechariah 8:13 NASB)

Neither Fears for Today Nor Worries About Tomorrow

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I am convinced

— convinced —

that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love.

Neither death nor life,

neither angels nor demons,

neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—

not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love.

No power in the sky above or in the earth below—

indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able

to separate us from the love of God

that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.

 

— Romans 8:38 NLT

Thank You!

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Today is the second anniversary of the day I was afraid I might not see another glorious autumn in the Kootenays. On that day surgeons removed a malignant tumour from my abdomen. It has not returned.

I’m still here.

I’m still rejoicing.

I’m still learning about confident trust.

I’m still changing.

God is still magnificent!

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Behold—God is my salvation!
I am confident, unafraid, and I will trust in you.”
Yes! The Lord Yah is my might and my melody;
he has become my salvation!
 
With triumphant joy you will drink deeply
from the wells of salvation.
 
In that glorious day, you will say to one another,
“Give thanks to the Lord and ask him for more!
Tell the world about all that he does!
Let them know how magnificent he is!”

(Isaiah 12:2-4 The Passion Translation)

 

Holy Ambush

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“Holy Ambush” Painted September 14 and 15 during worship services.

I love the story of the woman at the well. I’ve written about her before (here).

Jesus sent his disciples ahead so he could wait to talk to someone who was the wrong sex, the wrong ethnicity, the wrong religion, and had the wrong social standing, according to contemporary religious types.

She had her defenses up. But when she was honest with this strange man who broke with all social convention, he was open with her. He spoke plainly to her about who he was. After that encounter, she became a woman of influence.

I painted Jesus waiting for her. I usually avoid painting representations of the Messiah. There is already a very long history of artists imposing their culture on the stories told in the Bible. How does one paint someone who was both God and man? And did they really dress like Medieval peasants at that time? The metaphors nature provides are safer and less likely to attract critics whose minds snag on possible historical anachronisms.

At the end of the first worship session all I had on my canvas was something that looked like the background for the flannel board lesson my grandmother used to teach at Happy Hour Bible Club on Thursday afternoons after school. The problem was that I didn’t know what this story was going to be about. The creative imagery screen in my mind was playing a test pattern. I was blank.

I thought about sneaking all my painting paraphernalia out the side door and taking my regular seat at the next service. I worried that I was falling into the old performance trap. It would be better to admit I had no ideas than to forge on trying to look good because I enjoyed the compliments I received before. Been there. Have you seen my T-shirt collection?

Then the speaker began to teach about honesty and the Samaritan woman. The part of the story that struck me this time was that Jesus, who listened to his Father, probably knew she would be coming to the well alone. He sent the disciples ahead because this encounter would be way out of the box for them.

Then he waited for her.

Sunday morning I put the painting, such as it was, back on the easel and began to paint the picture I now had in my head. I know that 2000+ years ago Jesus wasn’t mostly white like me. He didn’t speak English, and I’m pretty sure he didn’t wear jeans. But when he invites me to sit and be open and honest with him, he speaks my language. He understands my landscape and my culture. He knows me and my history and all my shame and that wretched fear of rejection. He offers more love and acceptance than I ever hoped for.

He still waits to reveal who he really is to those brave enough to respond honestly to him. The rejected, the overlooked, the ostracized, the marginalized? They are the ones to whom he reveals his true self first. It’s a holy ambush.