“I am so ready for an angel to come,” Phil said that morning.
I’d been thinking the same.
I got up from my cot next to our daughter’s bed and joined my husband where he stood at her side. It was a ritual, a new sort of rotten routine that had just a pinch of sweetness in a mixture of pure bitter trial. I placed one hand on Charity’s wrist, and my other arm around Phil’s waist. His left arm encircled me and his right rested on her unmoving leg, a prayer circle of sorts. We prayed before the day began, at the end of my watch, prior to the change of guard, and before I left to get some rest.
I raised my head toward heaven and closed my eyes. I expected the red sea to part, Moses with the face of Charlton Heston, complete with flowing robe and raised staff. I prayed for the waters to stand high and for Charity to walk with strong legs on dry ground. I anticipated drama. I had faith to move mountains. I trusted. But, like every day since the illness began, when I opened my eyes, Charity lay in unbearable eerie stillness.
“Why doesn’t He answer?” I whispered.
Weak, weary and broken, we cried like one, a ceremony of tears. It was our life.
“Is it too hard for God?” I questioned, not because I doubted He could fix her, but because His silence didn’t dovetail with my theology.
A tiny response in my soul whispered back. “My miracles look exactly the way I want them to.”
3. And they came, bringing to Him a paralytic, carried by four men. 4. Being unable to get to Him because of the crowd, they removed the roof above Him; and when they had dug an opening, they let down the pallet on which the paralytic was lying. 5. And Jesus seeing their faith said to the paralytic, “Son, your sins are forgiven.” Mark 2:3-5 (NASB)
Jesus’ words caused an uproar.
“Blasphemy,” the crowd thought. After all, only God can pardon sins, and in effect Jesus’ pronouncement declared Himself God.
But it’s tricky because the condition of the heart is invisible, and as the crowd watched, the limbs of the paralyzed man lay immobile.
Did the unspoken, “Easy for you to say, Jesus, but he’s still paralyzed,” vibrate inside the walls of that house? Was there an anticlimactic let down or did the unmet expectations disappoint like a concert performance off key?
“Why are you reasoning about these things in your hearts?” Jesus asked in verses 8- 9. “Which is easier, to say to the paralytic, ‘Your sins are forgiven’; or to say, ‘Get up, and pick up your pallet and walk’?
“Which is easier?” I asked, like the people that encircled the pallet.
Were the paralytic’s hopes dashed or did the floodgates of his heart burst with freedom? Did he know that the deepest need of his heart and life had been answered? Did he realize that the greatest of miracles had just occurred?
10. But so that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins”—He said to the paralytic…”
From death to life, enemy of God to friend, slave to free, lost to found, no miraculous parting of the sea surpasses the supernatural act of a soul’s salvation.
11. “I say to you, get up, pick up your pallet and go home.” 12. And he got up and immediately picked up the pallet and went out in the sight of everyone, so that they were all amazed and were glorifying God, saying, “We have never seen anything like this.”
While we stood by Charity’s bed and asked, “Did her thumb twitch?” “Is she trying to say something?” God reached inside into parts unyielded and undetected. I writhed under His heavy hand, to move it, change it’s direction in spite of the fact that to be surrendered under the mighty hand of God is a place of complete safety.
Today, a string of unanswered prayers, like unleashed pop beads, ricochet through my memory.
I remember the lesson but I must be taught again. When I most need to amp up my faith, I recall those times God didn’t answer the way I’d wanted. It is back in my face, this perplexing inaction of God. I find myself holding my breath, seeking visible miracles, or explanations, rather than gazing at the God of miracles.
I want to see the answer so I can believe, but that is backward. Spiritual trumps physical. God’s emphasis is on the unseen.
His miracles are first and foremost within hidden surrenders of my heart.
I can see it so clearly it’s like it really happened. Charity wakes up, swings her legs over the bed and hops down.
“Which is easier?”
He forgives. He transforms. He restores relationships, calms anger, saves marriages, removes resentment. He reorders behavior from inside out.
His power can change the very fabric of my being.
It’s not at all natural.
These are miracles of daily perseverance, of face to face transformation, of long layers of time in His presence. These are the supernatural for which my heart should hunger.
He is after all, the God of miracles, and His miracles look exactly the way He wants.