Monday, October 21, 2019

Miracles Don't Happen Every Day

The definition of miracle is, an extraordinary and astonishing happening that is attributed to the presence and action of an ultimate or divine power. 

By definition a miracle is not something that happens every day. Granted, just the fact that we are alive and living on this extraordinary planet feels like a miracle and all the beauty around us reminds us of God and his miraculous power, but these things can be explained. What I'm talking about are those exceptional events that cannot be explained.

Six years ago my family came face to face with what looked like a tragedy (and in some ways it was and is), but foremost it was a miracle.  My grandson Ezra, who was eleven years old at the time, was at a friend's house and he was riding a side-by-side ATV when the vehicle tipped over. Ezra did not have a helmet on and was not wearing a safety belt so when the ATV went over he was thrown out and the four-by-four came down on his head and neck, 1200 pounds cut into his skull and ground his face into the rocks.

Ezra remembers coming out of unconsciousness and realizing he was trapped. It was a horrific moment. He could hear the engine running and smell the odor of gasoline. He feared the vehicle might explode. He could see a nearby highway and prayed that someone would see him. His friend ran for help and soon sirens were wailing and emergency crews arrived, along with an ambulance.

It took special equipment to cut Ezra free, but when he was loaded into an ambulance and then headed for the hospital he was alive. Some who watched prayed. 

I heard from many of the emergency crew and the doctors who cared for Ezra that night - none of them could explain how he had survived. But Ezra knew. He told me later that it was God who had saved him. 

Ezra was life-flighted by plane to Portland where he underwent emergency surgery, the first of many surgeries, which included a craniotomy to relieve pressure on his brain, repair deep lacerations to his face and skull, a partially dismembered ear, a jaw broken in two places, and an injured cervical spine.

He was a mess and in terrible pain. But we were so thankful that he was alive! 

Here are a few photos taken after the initial surgery just to give you an idea of his condition. I will spare you those taken before.

The doctors did their jobs well and saved his life. We and so many others prayed. God was with us and with Ezra through the ordeal and all the days, weeks and months following. 

As Ezra healed it became apparent that he had sustained injuries to his brain. His face and skull could be mostly repaired, but the interior damage was going to be a more difficult matter. Ezra had a traumatic brain injury. It has changed the course of his life, and he has had to battle to move forward. But he's a fighter and hasn't conceded. He knows God has a plan.

Here is our miracle kid today. He is now seventeen and a senior in high school. He's beautiful on the inside and out. He has a lot of life ahead of him. It's not going to be easy. The accident left him with life-long deficits, but he's facing the challenge courageously. I have no doubt that God will use his life to enrich others. 

When I think about all that has happened and all that is still to come I am reminded of these verses. 

Ephesians 3:20  Now glory be to God! By his mighty power at work within us, he is able to accomplish infinitely more than we would ever dare to ask or hope.

2nd Corinthians 12:9  Each time he said, "My gracious favor is all you need. My power works best in your weakness." So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses."

On that awful day, when I was called to the ER, I was afraid and a weight of hopelessness lay over me like a heavy mantle. But God had not left me or my family alone. On that day when we prayed for a miracle, God was merciful. We all are exceedingly thankful.

It is good to be reminded of God's goodness, but to also remember that God is sovereign. We can't know when or if a miracle will happen when we cry out for one, but we can be assured that God will always do what is best. And that we can be assured that he will be with us and uphold us with his mighty power and love.

Grace and peace to you from God,


Monday, October 14, 2019

Knit together in my mother's womb.

On this lovely Autumn day I've been thinking back to the early days of my life and precious times with my mother.                                                            We were both  young when this photo was taken. I didn't know then that Mom considered me a God-given gift, but as the years passed I grew to understand.

Mom is gone now, but the memories are still here with me.

Psalm 139 reminds me of how much God orchestrated all of it. In verses 13-17 it says,

"You made all the delicate, inner parts of my body and knit me together in my mother's womb. Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex. Your workmanship is marvelous - how well I know it. You watched me as I was being formed in utter seclusion, as I was woven together in the dark of the womb. You saw me before I was born. Every day of my life was recorded in your book. Every moment was laid out before a single day had passed. How precious are your thoughts about me, O'God. They cannot be numbered."

As always, when I read this scripture I am reminded of how precious I am to God and what a wonder is His creation. 

But today as I read, something more grabbed hold of me. My mother. She also knew me before I was born. I know how deep her love for me was because I'm a mother too. I've yet to travel the long journey she did, but I know that even on my last day my children will be my most precious gift in life.

 I feel loved when I think on those days before I was born, when I lived beneath my mother's ribs. She was aware of me most every moment, and I can imagine the hopes and dreams she had for her child. And though I may not have followed the path she had imagined I know she loved me just as I was because that's how mother's are. And she saw beyond the shell of me - she saw my heart.

The memories are bitter sweet as I think about my mom, first vibrant and alive, and then aged and faded until her last day. But what a blessing to have been loved all my life with a love that still shines today.

I thank the Lord for the days he gave us. And those glorious beginnings when I was lovingly carried in my mother's womb, chosen by God just for her and greatly blessed to have been my mother's child.

I don't pretend that all the days were perfect, that my mother was perfect. And I was certainly not a flawless child. But I always knew I was loved. 

I have many beautiful memories of my childhood. One simple moment stands out. It was a summer day when my mother gently washed and then combed out my long hair. When she was done I raced outside and climbed onto the wooden swing my father had built and pushed off gently, then lay back and let my long hair fall beneath me to dry in the warm sun and gentle breeze of the swing. Mom stood in the doorway and watched, her eyes warmed by delight and devotion.

My heart is warmed at every remembrance of that moment. Do you have a special moment too that you would like to share?

Grace and peace to you from God,

Friday, October 04, 2019

A Better Way?

It seems that society today believes it's good to judge others (according to our own set of values of course), to blast someone who doesn't agree with us without forethought or kindness, and to wallop them by whatever means seems appropriate to us at the time.

We see a lot of this on social media - Facebook, Twitter. We even see it on our streets. My daughter lived in Portland, Oregon for a while and she avoided any trips downtown because she was afraid. At that time, there were demonstrations on a pretty regular basis and sometimes they got violent. How sad it is to be fearful to venture out into our own town.

The meanness and cruelty I see in this world grieves me. It hurts my heart. And if I were to compare the size off my heart to God's ... well, mine is very small, which makes me wonder what does all this hatred feel like to him?

Do we truly believe it's all right to make a judgment about a person on the basis of race, creed, gender, or political position ... and any other number of groups? The point is judging by a category is small-minded and cruel. God is the only one who can judge. He's the only one who can see into a person's heart. He knows us like no one else can.

John 13:35 says this, "By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another."

When others watch how we live, would they know we are followers of Christ? Or do we look like the world? Do we pass the "smell test"? Actually, we never will. Even the apostle Paul recognized the evilness in his own heart. In I Timothy 1:15 he said, "This is a true saying, and everyone should believe it: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners - And I was the worst sinner of them all."

We are all going too fail. I mess up all the time. I get riled up or hurt and I lash out. I can be cranky and strike out at an innocent bystander. I can get passionate about something and say more than I should. 

We do need to be fair minded with one another. But that does not mean we can't speak up. Christ did. He spoke truth. He even got angry. Of course, where we go wrong is when we allow these emotions to fester into hatred and bitterness.

We're not going to walk through life perfectly. If we could then there would be no need for a Savior. What my heart is crying out is - Can't we try harder? Spend more time with the Lord, give the Holy Spirit freedom to work in our lives, Love the Lord above all others (including ourselves)? If we do that, our walk will improve. And the way we live may even speak to a lost and hurting world. We could make a difference.

Let's begin by praying for one another. I challenge you to choose someone who is difficult for you to love. Pray for them whenever they come to mind. You will see a difference, maybe not in them, but in yourself.

Grace and peace to you from God,