I’ve been thinking a lot lately about miracles and have decided to work my way through the Gospels for the next week or so to prepare my heart for a true Christmas celebration. From the announcement of the coming birth of Jesus to His resurrection and ascension, the Gospels are filled with miracles...and it is with that awe we should enter into this holiday season.
However, one of my favorite ‘miracles’ comes not from the Gospels but from the Old Testament (1Kings 18) Elijah confronts the people of Israel and the prophets of baal and asherah on Mount Carmel. How the false prophets (450 for baal and 400 for asherah) called all day upon their god to bring down fire from heaven, how Elijah even taunted them a bit…I can see it! 1 Kings 18:27 “Shout louder!” he said. “Surely he is a god!” and he goes on about maybe he’s sleeping, or busy, or traveling… Then the group of false prophets really worked themselves into a frenzy of begging and pleading.
Of course, Elijah waits and at nightfall has the altar of the One True God drenched with water and with a beautiful prayer calls upon God...
1Kings 18:37 “Answer me, O Lord, answer me, so these people will know that you, O Lord, are God, and that you are turning their hearts back again”…verse38 “Then the fire of the Lord fell and burned up the sacrifice, the wood, the stones and the soil, and also licked up the water in the trench.” Verse 39 “When the people saw this, they fell prostrate and cried, ‘The Lord – He is God! The Lord – He is God!”
It was a kind of in-your-face miracle and revelation to the people. But I digress…
I can hardly read about Elijah without thinking of one of our children’s church students from some time back. He was small even for a four year old; this boy named Elijah. His father had been ‘forced’ to attend church his entire life so when he joined the military and married an ‘unchurched’ woman attending worship services was an issue that never came up. What they had not counted on was moving into a house across the street from our Pastor’s sister, Faith.
Faith has the biggest heart of any person I know. She is always helping others even when her resources are depleted…even if it means watching someone’s child after she’d been at the church cleaning all night. Naturally, she befriended the young couple new to the neighborhood.
It started with a prayer request one Wednesday night. Elijah was ill and the doctor’s could not pin point the problem. Round after round of tests finally offered the diagnosis most feared – cancer. He began treatment and he and his mom began attending church on Sunday’s with Faith when possible. Elijah was pretty well behaved, but the thing that sticks out most in my mind about him was how he would sometimes lay down on the floor and place his face on the cool tiles.
For almost two years the war between this child and the believers he was surrounded with and the beast cancer raged on. Some battles were won…some were lost. He had been in a period of remission for many months when he went for a check up…a mass was in the spot where a kidney had been removed and there was a spot on his diaphragm that looked ‘suspicious.’ Surgery was scheduled. His mother was almost beside herself and so we gathered together around the altar the Sunday night before surgery, Pastor anointed Elijah, and the elders and saints began to pray…praying for a healing… he is but a child…praying nothing would be there...we pleaded that the Lord would use this boy, this illness to show Himself real to this young couple… we prayed believing for a miracle.
By the time I arrived at Children's Hospital the next morning Elijah had just gone into surgery and the waiting room was full. We prayed, poured a cup of coffee and prepared to hunker down for the long day of surgery and recovery ahead. It wasn’t thirty minutes until the doctor walked in to the waiting room. This could mean either victory or defeat and we couldn’t tell which by the look on his face.
All of the sudden a huge grin spread across the doctor’s face and he said, “I don’t know what happened. The tests on Friday showed the mass and spot still there and this morning there is nothing…no mass, no spot. It must be a miracle.” It was victory indeed! Not only was there no mass or spot… Elijah went into remission! They were with us almost a year after that when the parents were transferred…such is military life.
James 5:14-16 “Is any one of you sick? He should call the elders of the church to pray over him with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well; the Lord will raise him up. If he has sinned, he will be forgiven. Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective.” ~NIV
My plan over the next couple, three or so, posts is to share with you some miracles I have personally seen and challenge you to think about (and share) the miracles you have seen…big or small…in-your-face or subtle...
God is always at work in the midst of His people! May we have eyes to see and ears to hear!