Tag Archive: miracle

A Tough Miracle

Thanks, but I’ve had mine

Every once in a while, when I’m feeling particularly masochistic, I pay a visit to a different church. All usually goes well on arrival. I find an empty spot along the side or at the back, planning a quick escape after the service. Then someone who knows me spots me, and my weakness appears… I love a good chat, and even more, a good cuppa tea.

I’m a social creature by nature, and very open to people asking me about my disability. So once I start chatting, I inevitably make a few new friends and the topic comes up. Then the inevitable happens, as if drawn by my magnetic brakes on my electric wheelchair , some well-meaning person will feel compelled to motor on over and insist on praying over me for healing. What they confuse is the message from God, and the voices in their head expressing their own discomfort at the thought of having a disability. It makes them realise their own frailty and humanity.

Make no mistake, I’m never going to turn down anything as powerful as prayer but I do ask that they rather include me in their prayers at home and that they listen to my story first. It’s always rather deflating to see people pray for healing with enormous expectation… And nothing happens. Occasionally, I meet people who are far enough in their journey to understand and appreciate my story, but I tell it anyway:

I’ve already had a miracle. My mother and I were hit by an out-of-control, on-coming car in 2007. The people who arrived on scene assumed we were dead. The professionals who did the accident reconstruction said there was no reason we were still alive. We should not have survived, but we did. That was my miracle. I’ve had my miracle. But I call it a “Tough miracle”.

Every day is hard. Every day I struggle. But I am here. This is my Tough Miracle.

We know the Lord always answers our prayers. However, as mere human beings, we have to accept His wisdom, and that sometimes His answer is “No”, or that He does things in His own time or his own way. He never said life would be smooth sailing, or that following His path would be easy. Those who stop long enough to really listen to my story, realise that I welcome their prayers to aid me through my journey, as long as it’s done in private.

I’ve had my miracle. God uses my disability in many ways. For my students in Inclusive Education, it’s very difficult to say that you cannot teach children with disabilities when your lecturer has a disability. I have learned first hand the difficulties faced by people with disabilities, and have the voice to speak out. And I have realised that physically and emotionally, I am stronger, even though I struggle, and that in God’s eyes, I am whole.

Please remember me in your prayers at home. Pray for those things you can’t see. Don’t worry about my wheelchair. Don’t focus on my needing to walk. Pray for my pain levels to drop.  Pray for the invisible disability I have: depression, which hides behind my smiling facade.

Pray that I have the love and patience to deal with well- meaning, over enthusiastic Christians who insist on praying for me in public, because I have a wicked sense of humour and am tempted to get up and walk (which I can do for short distances), shouting “Hallelujah! It’s a miracle!”

And pray for better understanding in society, so that people wouldn’t use the disabled parking spaces because stupidity is not a disability, that pavements would be flat, and that buildings would be accessible, for empathy not sympathy, and that people would stop assuming that because I use a wheelchair that I have a problem with it.

I’m here. I’m alive. It’s hard, but so is life. It’s my tough miracle.

[Helen is quite a busy woman and so doesn’t get to write too often, but when she does you can catch more of her words at Helen’s fabulous, frivolous, splendiferous, always-odd life on wheels…]

[For other stories from amazing and ordinary people who happen to have a disability or are faced with special needs, click here]


recently i shared an incredible story i heard in church of God being able to take a story that looked like it contained contradictory elements [people being told their adopted children were going to be two different sets of ages] and making them both happen, which you can read about here.

my own recent story contains more coincidence than miracle and so is a lot easier to explain away perhaps, but not to me.

a few weeks ago i attended the CCDA Christian Communities Development conference in New Orleans and after one session where i heard some incredible stories from this man Father Boyle who has worked with gang members for the last thirty years i was broken. i sat in the meeting hall [of i would say 2000 people capacity] as people filed out and they even started putting up dividers to close my edge section off from the main hall section where they were about to have an open mic session.

i was sitting and calling out to God with a sense of ‘what am i doing?’ in response to this message of this man who had dedicated his life to these young people and was seeing incredible results. i know God uses me through online stuff and speaking and writing opportunities when i get those, but in terms of face to face difference making i was just feeling completely low and useless. so really just a cry of ‘what difference is my life making?’

the room had mostly emptied when this older [than me] mom type lady comes up to me with a ‘Brett?’ kind of question and i say ‘Yes’ and she introduces herself. She is a South African who is currently doing a year of study in the States and she goes on to tell me how i had a huge influence in the lives of her two daughters [who are now i think 23 and 21] when they were at school and possibly her son as well.

like really? i am sitting crying out to God about my effectiveness as a God-following person in the middle of Americaland at a conference full of Americaneses and He sends a South African woman to come and look for me to tell me that i had some influence in her family.

coincidence? possibly. God-incident? it just seemed to be so well timed and perfect to be otherwise.

i’m not a big fan of the God-finds-me-parking-places theology because of all the times i’ve asked and He hasn’t and because some people tend to attribute things that were clearly not specifically God to God which to me tends to reduce the times somewhat when it actually is God. i also can’t get my brain around how God was able to bring that lady to come find me and how i completely believe that she operated in her free will both at the same time and yet somehow it just works – maybe God is more largely into the prompting and suggesting business than the picking-people-up-and-marching-them-like-a-robot-into-the-next-room business…

what i do know is that i was feeling low and broken and just really needing some encouragement from God and it came. in quite a dramatic fashion. i think i would have taken encouragement from an American right then, but God sent a South African. and it was a direct answer to the specific cry. so call ‘coincidence’ all you like, but i think i am going to hold onto ‘God-incident’ on this one.

# in a completely different and maybe way more random [to you] note, when i was involved in youth leading a bunch of us from Claremont Baptist were on this youth leader’s committee camp once and we ‘discovered’ this constellation we called ‘the horse’ which is very probably some other constellation or part thereof but it is the one constellation [well, apart from Orion and the Southern Cross] that i can actually pick out in the sky and it’s been a huge source of encouragement for me over the years [feels like a private constellation that belongs to a select few of us and i love sharing it with friends of mine when the opportunity arises] [actually i think Mark Chapman was the one who came up with ‘Barman’s vomit’ which didn’t really count as much cos it referred to the Milky Way which is already kinda named, but that one still gives me a smile every time i see it]

anyways, the point being that when i was flying back from New Orleans i had a window seat and ‘the horse’ was directly outside my window pretty much all the way home which felt like God putting the seal on a very special trip. that one is more likely to be shelved into the corner of coincidence but once again it was just there at the right place and right time [i don’t know that i’ve particularly noticed it in our two years of being in americaland] and confirmation that God has me and to just keep on, because He is faithful.

it is possibly a travesty of the highest order to take something that God has directly put in front of you and to minimalise it or discount it as coincidence and so i am going to use these happenings as opportunity to bring Him praise and glory and attention.

# actually one other quick memory i have from the conference was sitting on the other side of the room from this native american guy who i have seen around for three conferences but never really had much interaction with. during worship i felt like God had a message for him and so i went and shared it with him not knowing that what i was speaking about made any sense at all and thinking he was looking at me kinda weirdly as in ‘what the flip?’, But when i finished he took some time to share with me why he felt that what i had shared with him was from God and how it was really encouraging to him. Those kind of risk moments are great [especially when they work out which they generally tend to] because they are just completely encouraging and life giving to both parties and i look forward to hearing how the words i shared with him come to fruition.

so miracles and God-incidentses and words of knowledge/encouragement… it’s going to take me a lot more faith right now to believe that God doesn’t exist, than to believe and know that He does. how about you? any moments in your life recently where He confirmed His presence and involvement?


God of the impossible

Can two contrasting answers to a one answer question both be right?

At church yesterday an Indian guy called Peter shared his testimony of how he was adopted by American parents after his father had had to put him and his brother up for adoption after his mother died [two of the six children were put up for adoption as the father thought they would get a better life that way].

Before that his American parents-to-be had already had four children of their own, and due to medical reasons could not have any more, but the mom believed that she had two more children. But she wanted the dad to come to the same decision. One night he went to a church meeting that she was supposed to go to in which a missionary from India spoke and he came home and announced to his wife that he thought they had the capacity for two more children. So they started the process of investigation.

During that time two different sets of people were praying for them and believed God told them the ages of their children. The one couple told them their children would be 6 and 8 years old and the second couple told them they would be 11 and 13 years old. [Now this is going to be a tough one for God to make happen, right? Wrong.] Peter and his brother were 6 and 8 years old when their American parents met them for the first time… and they were 11 and 13 when they arrived in Americaland to be joined to their new family.

DOES THAT NOT BLOW YOU AWAY? It really should. The ‘nah, coincidence’ people are going to have a tough time with that one. And it would have been great to be able to hear the parent’s account of the story because before you know the end to it, you hear the different ages and your initial thought is, ‘Hm, i wonder which one got it wrong.’ But no, God is faithful and it is stories like this which just help prove it. We serve the God of the absolutely impossible.

This reminds me of an ex convict marching up to a national leader and declaring to him, “Let my people go!” Or a nation marching around a city seven times and blowing some musical instruments and shouting and seeing the walls collapse on the city. It reminds me of a shepherd boy with a catty and five little stones facing down a giant of a military man or another little kid with a severely reduced army taking on an army, described as many as the grains of sand on a beach,  with 300 people armed with torches and trumpets.

And so on… and it is not the miracle that is as attractive as the love and power of an involved God that it points towards. Something about trusting in the Lord, with all of our hearts, and leaning not on our own understanding. In all our ways acknowledging Him and watching as He makes our paths straight. [paraphrase of Proverbs 3.5-6]

So we are continuing through Mark and this is a bit of a dejavu passage as Jesus repeats a miracle He has done before [feeding the crowd] but this time with a slightly smaller crowd and the disciples are still struggling to get it. To add to his frustrations his good friends the Pharisees pitch up demanding a sign leading into a deep sigh of frustration and him actually climbing back into the boat and heading across the lake away from them [so even Jesus needed a break from stupid people?]

Join with me as we read Mark 8 verses 1 to 13

[For the next post on Jesus warning us about the yeast of these, click here]

one of my favourite freaky stories in the bible [and there’s lots of them – 2 kings 2.23 story of elisha and the baldyhead bear-mauling incident] is the story of elijah found in 1 kings 17.

now a bunch of things happen here – there is elijah being fed miraculously by ravens, there is the miracle of the flour and oil of the widow not running out and then the widow’s son mysteriously dies.

it is one of those crisis of faith moment stories many of us have experienced – having just witnessed this crazy miracle of the continuing food supply, the widow is now accusing the prophet [and God by association] of having it in for her.

what comes next is incredibly dangerous and as with so many bible stories, we have lost the edge of the danger because we know how it ends – shadrach, meshach and abednego risking being tossed in the fiery furnace, daniel risking the lion’s den, david heading out to take on the giant goliath armed with a slingshot, gideon with his muchly reduced army taking on an army whose tents were described as ‘swarms of locusts’ [judges 6.5] armed with torches and musical instruments and peter stepping out of the boat on to the water…

we know how they end so we read them and get excited by God and what He has done, but i think it is important to go back and read this stories as the person really desperately hoping that God is going to make a dramatic appearance…

so you have this widow and her dead son and elijah is taken to the room with the dead son and in 1 kings 17.21 it says this, ‘Then he stretched himself out on the boy three times and cried to the Lord, “O Lord my God, let this boy’s life return to him.”

why is that a cool story? because it worked. God heard elijah’s prayer and resurrects the boy and he lives again. yay God, well done elijah.

but what if he hadn’t? if God didn’t pitch up then you have a grown man, climbing on to and lying on top of the body of a dead boy… now i’m not sure we can tell from the story if he did that twice with no results and then the third time God answered because that would add in a whole other dimension, but from elijah’s point of view it has to be coming from a point of ‘i really believe this is what God wants me to do and i am going to risk reputation and possibly life to be faith-full and obedient to what i have heard God say.’

“yeah, but it’s elijah”

the same elijah who goes on to witness another robe-wetting moment on top of mount carmel where if God doesn’t show up with the sacrifice then he will lose reputation and life for sure… but also the same elijah who shortly after that incident runs away because a woman threatens him and ends up moping to God that he is the only one left [when God secretly has thousands of other faithful followers stashed away in a cave] and so clearly there were times when ‘but it’s elijah’ was not good enough to guarantee success and bravery in the face of consequences.

there are so many others like this – noah builds a giant boat in the desert, Jesus spits into a blind man’s eye, peter and john tell a crippled man to get up and walk… so many miracle stories that only took place because someone was faithful and obedient to what they heard God calling them to do… if you have known me long enuff then you will have probly heard the story of the safe house for kids in cape town that was birthed out of a worship meeting [http://www.uthandolenkosi.co.za] – a lot of people called them crazy, even some pastors took action to try and protect them from the foolish thing they were going to do… and yet because God said it, and because people responded faithfully it happened.

i think it is important to finish off by saying that the point is not to go out and do stupid things… if you go to the local swimming pool and step out on the water you will sink. why? because God did not invite you to. the key here is listening out for what God is saying to you and acting on it regardless of whether it makes sense or not to those around you. [altho seeking good counsel from strong Jesus-following people around you to make sure it is God’s thing He is calling you to and not just a hare-brained scheme is worth doing]

but if God does call you to lie on top of a dead kid and call out to Him three times, and you’re sure it’s God speaking, then you had better act on that and you will only know whether God is going to show up or not the moment it is too late if He doesn’t…

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