I am a skeptic. I was raised in America where skepticism is clothed in the intellectual pursuit of knowledge. The traditional church doesn’t seek out miracles due to the belief that they were only needed when the church was being formed and the Bible was being written. The non-traditional church believes that healing happens every time, as long as you have enough faith. I have walked both these paths. I have seen healing happen. I have also sat in hospitals and begged for healing that never came…at least not in the way I expected it to. I wanted the supernatural-get-up-and-walk-out-completely-healed type of healing as I sat in the chemo chair. I wanted the no-question-God-just-did-a-miracle experience when my husband had a brain injury. You know, take up your mat and walk. Instead, I concluded there are many ways God heals, and sometimes he doesn’t at all. He CAN heal, but he sometimes chooses not to. It is what I have witnessed in my faith journey. But just when I have come to some to peace with this healing question, he challenges me again by doing a miracle…the kind I have been asking to see.
In Romania behind a gate, a woman tells us she has trouble hearing us. A scripture comes into my mind…faith comes by hearing. I begin repeating it in my heart. Faith comes by hearing. Faith comes by hearing. Over and over I pray it. The woman’s daughter tells the story to us. Her mom had a bad ear infection. They had gone to many doctors, but none of them could fix it. It just kept coming back. One doctor decided to go in and clean out her ear, which resulted in a punctured ear drum and permanent damage to her ear. Her head scarf covered her right ear. A Racer on our team is bold enough to ask the woman if he can pray for her ear so she can hear. He asks her to remove the scarf and gauze from her ear. He has seen miracles, and therefore knows they exist. I, on the other hand, would not have been bold enough to even ask, because ‘what if’? What if it doesn’t happen? What if she thinks we are crazy? What if God looks bad? Fortunately, none of those questions had to be asked because after praying for her twice, her ear opened up and she could hear. We offered a song and she gladly accepted the opportunity to hear a guitar and a chorus of Amazing Grace.
Still amazed by this event, we continued our day with Kid’s Club. It was a typical VBS type format, songs, bible story, and games. Children followed us down the dirt road to our meeting place. They arrived in all manner of clothing. Some with only underwear, some barefoot, some in clothes too big, all covered with a layer of dirt from the walking. I was struck by the absence of shame or embarrassment as well as the innocence. During the story of Daniel and the Lion’s Den, the reader asked, “Have you ever been scared like Daniel?” There was a loud and unanimous “NO!” from the group of mostly boys. When the story was over, we were starting to make the transition to games, when one boy said he needed God in his life so he would not be afraid. The other boys watched carefully as he sincerely prayed for Jesus to come and help him in his life to not be fearful. Two more also wanted to pray, and though these childlike prayers were not dramatic on the outside, it occurred to me they were miracles nonetheless. A broken heart made whole is no less significant than ears than can hear.
Later in the evening when all the teams were reviewing the day, another story was shared by another self-proclaimed skeptic. The mom of a Racer told the story. They were conversing with a woman who was blind, when her Racer daughter simply asked the woman if she could pray for her eyes. The woman agreed. They gathered around the woman to pray and afterwards, she said she could see a little. The Racer prayed again, because she wanted to woman to see a lot! Soon the woman was dancing, running around, and kissing everyone she SAW, because she SAW them. Her eyes were healed! As the mom relayed the story, she said, “I am usually a skeptic, but what I felt as we were praying was like nothing I have felt before. What I saw I have never seen before. It was real, and the woman could see.” For the skeptics among us it was a gate-opening experience. The places in our hearts that were sealed off to the possibility of dramatic miracles were swung wide open. The King of Glory came in and showed us all what happens when we open the gates of our hearts for him to come in. Once again, he used miracles to get attention for something much deeper than physically seeing or hearing, but rather to open hearts to SEE and to HEAR his heartbeat for everyone to be loved and whole. The gates of Romania and the hearts which visit there are opening. Maybe not ALL the way, maybe things are tentative, but they are opening nonetheless. They are a representation of all the ways we close ourselves away. All the ways we divide ourselves and forget to look up to the one who can…open ALL the gates.