Posted in Family, fear, Grace, gratitude, life, loving others, missions, prayer, Scripture, thankful, travel

Miracles

For nothing will be impossible with God.” Luke 1:37

Well, there are miracles and then there are miracles.  One of the great adventures that Judy and I have been privileged to be a part of are church mission trips.  Specifically, mission trips to Africa.  For the past 15 or 16 years, our church has been an active participant in mission adventures.  At least one a year we try and send a team to Africa.  We started in Niger and then had to move a little south to the country of Mali.  We were privileged to serve there for several years.

I can’t explain how incredible it is to go on a mission adventure.  I also can’t really explain the draw that so many feel to this place called Africa. Where this story begins was a pretty difficult place.  We would stay in the bush often sleeping on the ground in tents.  The temperature would hover over 100 degrees.  I have one picture that showed a thermometer with a reading 125 degrees.  The food, well, let’s just say it wasn’t McDonald’s.  So what is it that causes people to step way out of their comfort zones just to serve others.  This story is part of that answer.

We were on a medical trip in Mali and the days were long and fruit was plentiful.  We had a full team including two medical doctors and several nurses.  They would treat the physically broken and we would try and share the truth of God’s love to the spiritually broken.  We would tell stories of Jesus and how He would go and help people.  We then would simply explain that we wanted to be like Him and help others.  We explained that people who knew Jesus in America had bought and paid for the medicine that they were receiving.  It was free to them because someone else paid the price.  It was always a great lead into the gospel stories because Jesus did the same for us.

Well, it was the end of a long day.  Most of us had wandered back to camp and were sitting around and chatting about the day’s activities.  Suddenly someone ran into the camp and shouted that there was an emergency back at the clinic.  We all rushed back over and what we found was grim…very grim.  A little girl, about nine if I remember correctly, had been climbing a tree.  She was about twenty-five feet up in the air when she slipped and fell—landing directly on her face.  Her father had carried her on a Moto (a small motorcycle) about three or four miles.  She was semi-conscious and unresponsive.

Two things happened simultaneously.  First, the doctors when to work and the saints went to praying.  Her pupils were unresponsive and though she was breathing, her respirations were rapid and shallow.  About an hour later the doctors said it was probably only a matter of time, her brain injuries seemed very serious.  I slipped into my pastor mode and wondered what an African funeral was like.  The doctors took turns sitting with her through the night, and then took her to the nearest first aid station. This part is fuzzy but it seems like at some point the father went ahead and took her back to her village.

The next day we went back to work with a somewhat heavy heart.  And then something happened…we heard that the little girl had woken up.  We then heard that she was speaking and walking around.  We then heard that she was responding and acting almost completely normal.  “What is this,” I wondered.  Again, if I remember correctly either that day or the next the father brought his little girl back to the doctors and there she stood.  A living, breathing, miracle.  It can be described as nothing else.  God had heard the prayers of His children and chosen to reach down from heaven and touch this little girl and give her back her life.  It. Was. A. Miracle.

Several of us have been to Africa many times and we have seen more than one miracle.  Sometimes it looked like this, sometimes it was God acting to avoid a terrible tragedy and sometimes it like a frog strangling rainstorm when it hadn’t rained for months and months.  But each time it was obvious that God was still God and He can do what He wants, when He wants.  After all, He is God.  For the skeptics out there who think that God doesn’t do the miracle thing—that it died out in the old days—well, that little girl would beg to differ with you.

Tucked away in the book of Luke, incidentally written by a physician in Jesus’ day, are some words that say it all.  It says “For nothing shall be impossible with God.” Nothing. Period. Seven words that can shake your world and this world. So what is rocking your world today?  COVID still keeping you up at night? Wondering about tomorrow or the next meal?  Worried about our country?  Well, I don’t know what God has planned—after all I’m in sales and not management—smile. But I do know that nothing is too big for Him to handle.  Just like that little girl in Africa who discovered she could lay down and rest in Him—so can you.  After all…He’s got this.

Posted in fear, Grace, gratitude, life, loving others, prayer, Scripture, thankful

Ain’t No Sunshine

What do you want Me to do for you?” Jesus asked him. The blind man said, “Rabbi, I want to see.” Mark 10:51

Bartimaeus, or Bart as his friends called him, was blind.  Along with the blindness came the usual social stigmas of being an outcast and the usual career choice–begging.  He had landed a good stretch of the highway to beg.  There was a lot of traffic but as always–a lot of darkness.  But all that was about to change.

One day he heard a crowd passing by and asked what was happening.  The fact that anyone even acknowledged him was a miracle.  Someone said, “Jesus was passing by.” Bart had heard of this young Rabbi and he had also heard stories, rumors really, that He could heal people like him.  Three words flashed into his mind–now or never.

He began to shout, to beg, to scream “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me.” Over and over he shouted.  The crowd quickly became annoyed and demanded that he shut it down or they would shut him up.  But desperation and hope wouldn’t allow that.  “Jesus, Son of David, please, have mercy on me.” Right at the point when his ears told him the noise was fading he heard it.  Jesus was saying something, “call him.”  Amazingly the same crowd that tried to shut him down now helped pick him up.

“What do you want me to do for you?” the unseen Rabbi asked.  It might seem like a strange question to ask a blind guy but Jesus wanted to be sure Bart knew his need.  Perhaps a small contribution.  Maybe a walking stick or a seeing eye camel.  Jesus was asking, “Do you want a better life or a new life?” Bart was ready for something new.

Mark 10:51 gives us his reply.  “Rabboni,” the blind man said to him, “I want to see.” His five words are loaded with meaning.  First, the word “Rabboni” was master and it was a term of surrender.  He was saying, “I haven’t experienced what I need but I will trust You for it anyway.”  That’s faith.  Second, “I want to see.”  He wasn’t asking for a band aide he was wanting something new, something life changing.  Faith and the wisdom to ask for the right thing was a game changer for Bart.

Wait, Jesus is speaking again and what He says is amazing.  “Jesus said to him, “Go, your faith has saved you.”  Your faith has saved you.  Amazing. And do you know what?  Mark puts it very plainly in the rest of verse 52. “Immediately he could see and began to follow Jesus on the road.” Immediately his world exploded into light and color.  Instantly the darkness was forced to flee as the Light of world flooded in. Amazing.

Well, Jesus had told him to go and do you know where he went.  Right with Jesus.  He followed him.  I mean, where else would he go but to follow the One who gave him light, who gave him life.  I can imagine the smile on his lips and chatter from his tongue as he shared what Jesus had done.  “I once was blind, but now I see” he would say.  We added the “amazing grace” part later. So how about you?  Does your life seem pretty dark right now?  You’ve seen the list over and over.  Fear. Corona virus. Unemployment. Unknowns. Whatever it is, Jesus is passing by and He has an invitation just for you.  He invites you to come and when you get there don’t ask for a seeing eye camel or walking stick.  He’s got something bigger for you.  He has peace and He has hope. He has a new life of light and color.  You’ll find a friend who will never leave or abandon you.  Go ahead, get up.  He’s waiting.  You can trust him.  Rest in Him.  He’s got this.