As Jesus went on from there, two blind men followed him, crying loudly, “Have mercy on us, Son of David!” When he entered the house, the blind men came to him; and Jesus said to them, “Do you believe that I am able to do this?” Matthew 9: 27-31
I wonder how often our unbelief limits God’s power to do amazing and miraculous things? More than once I have prayed as did the father of the child that Jesus healed when he was asked a similar question (Mk 9:24), Lord I believe; help my unbelief!
Or how often do we pray for something, and then explain away the answer as “coincidence”.
One summer I had the joy of doing some short term mission work in northern Manitoba in a Cree village. That first year I was part of a group of four women: the first white team to enter the village. It was humbling. The other women and I spent a wonderful week teaching the children about Jesus, singing songs, and making crafts to help them remember the stories. The children and the elders asked us to return the next year.
But that next year I spent several months away from my husband and our young daughters caring for my dad who was dying of cancer. After his death I was exhausted in every way. The last thing I wanted to do was plan a trip to Canada to teach in a remote village. I just wanted to stay home with my family. So I prayed:
“Lord, you know I’m tired. I don’t have the energy to put a team and supplies together or raise the money we would need to go north again this summer. So if you want me to do it again, you’ll have to provide what we need, including the $1500 for the gas and expenses. Amen.”
And then I didn’t tell a soul.
I figured I could take that summer “off” and consider going again the following year. But God had other plans. People started asking me out of the blue, “Are you going back to teach the Cree children this summer? I’ve been thinking about that ministry and want to give you a contribution toward it.”
Checks started coming in the mail. Unsolicited. Four women wanted to join me for the experience. And they had access to all kinds of supplies that we would need.
When I counted up the checks, guess how much had arrived? $1500.
So we went. It was a good week. Not an “over the top” week in terms of seeing people’s lives changed. And there were challenges – multiple challenges! – throughout the week. Like the pastor pilot wrapping the little Cesna’s wing in duct tape before we flew the last 200 miles to the remote village. (Seriously!) And that was after my van blew a tire on the Canadian highway and we were stranded for 12 hours on the side of the road in the middle of nowhere on our way to reach the pastor pilot. Five women, a van stuffed to the ceiling with supplies for the village, a flat tire, a flat spare tire, and a broken tire iron, with a storm coming. (This was before cell phones. Can you even imagine?) The list goes on… and on!
A man asked me on my return as he heard some of the stories, “Did you ever stop to think that maybe God didn’t want you to go to the village again?” I paused. And for a second I found myself wondering, doubting. And then I remembered my prayer and the $1500 that arrived without a word spoken to human ears. And I had a moment of clarity. Of truth.
“No,” I answered with certainty. “God wanted us to go. And I don’t think it was so much for the sake of the Cree children, but to prove to me that God is able to do far more than I expect, and the power of prayer.”
I read somewhere, “I don’t believe in miracles. I depend on them!” People always laugh when I say that, and I smile. But for me, there is also a large element of truth to the sentence. It seems no matter how many hours I spend at work, there is always work left undone. Some days that is okay. The work will wait another day. But other days I necessarily turn to God in prayer and can say earnestly, “I’ve given it my all, Lord, and I’m out of time and strength. You’ll have to do the rest!
I have come to rely on God when I have reached the end. I really do depend on miracles. And God comes through. Again and again. I give thanks.
I could write so much more… how that has happened over and over and over again with our new Latino outreach and ministry in the congregation where I serve. I do believe that God is able to do this! Most days.
* Questions to Ponder:
* Name five things you are absolutely certain Jesus can do, and three things you sometimes wonder whether Jesus can do.
* What things do you believe in, even though you can’t see them? How does faith help you see things differently?
* Prayer for Today:
Lord God, you have called your servants to ventures of which we cannot see the ending, by paths untrodden, through perils unknown. Give us faith to go out with good courage, not knowing where we go, but only that your hand is leading us and your love supporting us; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.