Signs, Wonders, Tongues, and Miracles of Today, Part 3
My sister was born in December of 1954. She died a Christian in November of 2008. She lived in Georgia and I was living in California at the time.
Shortly before she died, I received a phone call from her son-in-law. He sounded very matter of fact (he always did), so even as he explained the situation with my sister, it wasn’t sinking in. A few days before, he had been visiting and as he was preparing to leave, he and my sister were out in the garage as he made his way toward his car. As he did so, my sister collapsed all of a sudden.
My sister had apparently had a heart attack. Emergency services were called and between the time they arrived and got her to the hospital, she had flat-lined twice. By the time they got her to the hospital, they had managed to stabilize her, but the doctors needed to hook her up to machines and tubes, including a ventilator to keep her breathing.
Her son-in-law told me on the phone that it wasn’t looking good and family should come out for final good-byes. It wasn’t registering with me though. I thanked him for the call and thought she’ll get better and be up and around soon. In the meantime, I did make arrangements to fly back. My wife was actually on business in Hawaii at this time, but I let her know what was going on.
As the day wore on, things slowly began to sink in and I began to feel overwhelmed with emotion. I loved my sister. We had a real connection and yet we were 3,000 miles apart. I had just talked to her the Tuesday before – just a few days prior to her son-in-law’s phone call – and things had seemed fine. Of course, heart attacks can happen without any notice at all and most of that time, that’s exactly what happens.
At any rate, as I sat there in my office, I just started praying. Like most of us, my first instinct was to pray for her healing, that the doctors would do what was necessary to bring her back to health. I also prayed that God’s personal healing hand would touch her. These were prayers I would repeat numerous times over the next few days to a week. I was authentically seeking God’s help in this time of trouble, not just saying words.
I flew back to Georgia and went to the hospital. There, I found my sister in a coma, with her husband and their son standing by. That’s the way she had been since her arrival. There was little they could do except continue to monitor her situation and hope for the best.
I believed in prayer, not simply for prayer’s sake, but because I knew the Author of Life. I spent many hours praying for a return to health for my sister. I spent hours in the hospital and even found strangers who turned out to be Christians. They were kind enough to join me in prayer for my sister’s healing. I was very grateful.
This went on for several days where I truly believed that good things were on the way where my sister was concerned. That is still true even though things did not turn out the way I wanted them to turn out. Finally, one day I got up and immediately went into prayer mode. But there was a problem. I could say the words, “Lord, please let this be the day you heal my sister,” but they meant absolutely nothing. They had no force to them. I could not believe them. They were simply empty words.
I was lost, without hope. I didn’t know what to do. Finally, after I sat there and contemplated things for a bit, it seemed to me that God had a plan that up until this point, I was not able to see. Slowly, it dawned on me that it was time for my sister to go home to be with her Lord and Savior. That realization brought joy (for her) but tremendous sadness (for me) at the same time. I cannot describe it.
It was at that point I knew I could not continue to ask God to physically heal my sister and raise her back to life in the here and now. To do so would have been disobedient. I heard no voices, saw no dreams or visions, and certainly witnessed no miracles. There was simply this deep-seated sense that God had spoken to me. It was merely a sense of what He was doing. My choice was to agree with Him or not, but I knew that continuing to ask Him to heal my sister would be disobedient on my part because it was something He would not do. Her time to depart had come. That was that.
As I sat there and ruminated on that (she love cows!), God and I just talked. Actually, I talked and He listened. As I sat there, it seemed that it was okay to ask Him for a favor, according to His will, even if I did not fully know what His will was at the time aside from her impending death. I bowed to the floor and simply asked Him the following…
Lord God, it seems that you have spoken and said that it is time for sister to go home to be with You, which is so much better than having to remain here. I understand that she will soon see your face and fall at your feet in worship. I’m not going to ask You anymore to heal her in this life, but I now know full well that she is going to be permanently and perfectly healed once she departs this life and enters eternity where You will be the first Person she sees. Thank You that You love her and thank You that You have helped me understand this.
However, I’m wondering Lord, if You will, would You allow her to open her eyes one time so that she and I can connect before You take her home? You know she’s been in a coma since she arrived at the hospital and because of that, we’ve had no interaction with her.
I’m not demanding that you do this, Father. You know my heart. I’m simply asking that if You wouldn’t mind and if it’s not against Your will, You would have my sister open her eyes in a meaningful way that allows me to know she and I have connected, before You take her from this life forever.
I praise You Father for Your love, Your timing, and the perfection of Your will. I leave this in Your hands. In Christ Name I ask it.
The next day we were at the hospital and had just come back to her room in ICU from lunch. There was a nurse there who was checking my sister’s vitals. In fact, she had just finished shining a tiny flashlight into my sister’s eyes. I asked her what was happening and the nurse pointed out that there was absolutely no reaction in my sister’s eyes when she lifted her lid and shined the light into her eyes. I could clearly see that both of her eyes were staring down into her lower lid. No reaction to light at all. Nothing. The nurse then explained that aside from the brain stem activity, there was nothing. The machines were doing everything for her. It was kind of interesting to me that the nurse was willing to say that much, but it became clear why shortly.
After the nurse left, my brother-in-law, his son, and I gathered around my sister’s bed and started to pray. As I led in prayer, I glanced up and gently lifted one of her eyelids as the nurse had done. Instead of her pupil staring down into her lower lid, her pupil was actually looking straight out at me. I gently released her lid and continued praying. I glanced up again and this time, both of her eyelids were actually fluttering and then they “popped” open and both of her pupils were fixed on me. She did this on her own.
What was interesting is that as I moved, her eyes followed mine. This was no accident, no freak of some medical nature. The nurse had been providentially positioned to be in my sister’s room just as we returned from lunch! I realized that this was God answering my prayer. He had allowed my sister and me to connect one last time. I will never forget the intensity in her look with me. Never.
Later that day, as you can probably guess, my sister left this life forever and entered into eternity, where I know her sin nature was excised, her illnesses gone, and she saw and worshiped the King of kings! Wow. Yet, God in His graciousness and love, though He had basically said “no” to healing my sister physically in this life, granted my request to connect with her before He took her home permanently.
There were no voices, no visions, no dreams, not even any signs. There was wonder in realizing just how much God is willing to stoop to us because of how great His love is for us. He had allowed me to hound him about bringing my sister back to health, then quietly interrupted, letting me know that it was a prayer He would not acquiesce to, but at the same time, gave me something that I continue to cherish. It is something no one can take away.
The incident in question is something that was a miracle. It is one of those things that God does for those He loves, not because He supposedly has to or because that should be the “norm” for all Christians. He does this because these sporadic instances stand out in our lives as separate from the mundane that is often our Christianity that too many Christians reject.
Life itself can be mundane. Often, people are won to Jesus not in the tempest of circus-like events, but in the quiet words one person shares with another. Those words, made alive by God and embraced by a sinner, are often the norm for Christians. Being a Christian is often not spectacular. Countless Christians have come and gone quietly, yet made a tremendous impact for the Kingdom of God and the gospel of grace in the lives of many.
The thief on the cross hurled accusations to Jesus as they both hung there. There is no record of Jesus saying anything to that man. But that thief went from anger at Jesus to humility in nearly the blink of an eye. His humility caused him to embrace the truth about Jesus. What was it? Maybe what Jesus said to those around Him. Maybe what He said to His Father. Maybe it’s the way He reacted (or didn’t) to those who hurled all sorts of accusations and insults at Him. Maybe it was a combination of all.
Folks, as Christians, the most important miracle that takes place in the life of anyone is when they embrace the truth about Jesus, when they become born again (John 3). When we see that miracle above all others, we should rejoice. Do you know, as far as I can tell, that is the only miracle that occurs in this life in which the angels of heaven rejoice? Check it out in Luke 15:10.
Yet, what do we do? What are we too often taught? God wants to “perform”miracles in our lives. He wants us healed. He wants us this or that. Actually, what God wants are people who are completely dedicated to Him and His purposes regardless of consequences.
We have absolutely no idea how much it means to God or another person when we do something as mundane as bring them a bag of groceries, when we pray for them, or when we attempt to meet a known physical need for them. If we will just open our eyes, we will see needs and it is because of those needs in others that we gain access to their lives. Once we have access, we can show them God’s love and earn the right to tell them about His love for them and their need for God. God will or won’t then open their eyes. That’s His department. Ours is to tell them; to show them.
Jesus used miracles to authenticate His credentials and ministry to the leaders of Israel. They rejected Him in spite of those credentials. Jesus spent His ministry meeting needs of the average person. Miracles mean nothing without actual love for people. Yeah, they can be exciting and noteworthy. The problem though is that miracles in and of themselves do not necessarily convince people that God is God. Often, it takes someone who is willing to spend time with a person, listen to them, and even help them in their need. This is exactly what Jesus did.
The greatest miracle of all is when someone embraces the truth about Jesus and becomes a new creation. That is built into the Great Commission of Matthew 28 and we do not need to live “miraculous” lives to be part of that. We simply need to be obedient to His call.
Entry filed under: christianity, eternity, Religious - Christian - End Times, Religious - Christian - Prophecy, Religious - Christian - Theology, salvation, second coming. Tags: charismatic movement, charismatic renewal, death, great commission, miracles.