miracles, looking up, and celebrating...

You know how people can say miracles don't happen today like they did way back when? That miracles only happened in Bible times?? That's one of those things that would be easy to feel. I mean really, who has 5000 guys surround them, and then feeds them and the women and children with 5 loafs of bread and 2 fish? When has a lake just split into two with a dry walkway through the middle? Who do you know that's been raised from the dead - like dead and buried and back to life?

No --- I don't know any of these first hand either. But in my life I've witnessed miracles or the results of miracles first hand. And this was one of those weeks. Let me flash back... (crud, I can't start crying already, I just got started...)

Flash back... About three and a half years ago I was contacted by Salem Alliance to come and be one of the middle school pastors. It was a freaky proposition, but God-sized, which usually means, guess what...you're gonna do it or... you should do it. Anyway, when we came to visit and interview, we got to spend time with most of the Pastoral Management Team - PMT - and among that amazing crew was John Stumbo, the lead pastor. I remember the questions he'd ask - starting with wondering if he'd be able to look our pastor from Lilburn in the face after bringing someone else from LAC to Salem. I remember his care about us and our family and our parents and the changes that could be coming our way. Flash forward. We accept the position and move to Salem. John has always been one of those people who would look me in the eye and ask me a question that cut straight to the heart and made me feel like he knew me and all that was on my mind in that very instant. Flash forward to a Christmas party, when in the midst of his comments he looks me in the eye and says that there are times when it's hard because you are away from family. An acknowledgement of who I am and what I'm feeling. That's John. Someone who has that inate God-given way to just know... and care and inspire and give and love and confront and direct and... yeah...that's John. (OK tears...I need to keep going here...)

Flash forward again. 18 months ago, John was literally on his death bed. And he jokes at times about the fact that we prayed him out of heaven. It's true. God has a plan bigger than anything we can imagine, and for some reason that plan included us being completely on our knees (a place we should be every day anyway), in tears, begging and pleading for John's life. Begging and pleading for grace and compassion for his family. Begging for understanding and patience...and hope in the midst of something so unbelievable to comprehend. A man in the utmost of health - super-marathoner, preaching pastor, in the midst of doctorate studies, dad, husband, friend...and the list goes on --- mysteriously so sick, which is such an understatement, he was walking through death's door...and God said, "not so fast John Stumbo..."

Flash forward... 16 months. One of the ongoing issues of John's "mysterious journey" has been his inability to swallow. No swallowing. None. Not even his spit. On his blog, he gave a top 10 list... of those things that you have to learn about yourself when you have this condition...an honest depiction of the not so great things that are a regular part of his life... still... no swallowing.

Flash forward...this week - 18 months... We got an email at church that John's feeding tube wasn't working right and they were wondering if today was the day his swallowing muscles would work. Would we stop and pray? Of course... I stopped and prayed. The I read the next paragraph - "it's taken him 2 hours, but he's gotten down 2 ounces of yogurt." WHAT?!??!!?? I send an email back and said, "so he "ate" 2 oz. of yogurt?? (Just to be clear what I'm wanting to do a dance about here..." ... And almost instantaneously I get a message back, "YES!" WHAT!!?!?!?!??!!!???? John ATE...which meant John SWALLOWED!! (I admist...there was a Thomas moment of really?? I wanted to be sure I read it right...) YES!!! Start happy dance.

All day we waited for another word. Later in the afternoon I was home with the kids, Steve had just gotten home from work, and we were all upstairs when I started to tell Steve about John. As I began the story my phone buzzed, with "John update" I stop and read it to my family... (tears again...just like then)... John isn't just swallowing...the man is boldly approaching the eating world...and embracing the miracle. Banana, orange juice, saltines, and even Wendy's vanilla frost and 1/2 cup of chili.

John IS a modern day miracle. And miracles, whether from the the good ol' Bible days or the John Stumbo ones of today (and I know there are many many in between and countless many to follow)... are all evidence of Him --- of the God of the universe reaching His hand down from heaven and doing something so impossible there is just no other possible explanation. None. I'm so grateful He does this. I know... there have been many I time I wish He would and He hasn't. And I don't understand (yet) why sometimes He does and sometimes He doesn't. And someday I'll ask Him...when we're sitting face to face... But right now...at this time in my life... I can hear or witness a miracle and tear up at the awesome, amazing, undeniable, incredible, humbling, awe-inspiring power of God...and the love He has for us. And how at times He says, here...here's a gift from Me to you...I love you.

I admit it. Gifts are good and fun things. But you know how you watch a kid at Christmas or a birthday party and they get so many presents that 2 or 3 into it they're just flying through and don't even really see or know what they're getting. But then the "big" gift comes...and the shock and amazement and gratitude floods ... God is like that. Sometimes He gives us that "big" gift...and we're amazed again at His goodness and reminded about the little gifts He gives that we take for granted. So...that's enough of my reflection. Take a look at John's blog --- and the post of his first day of eating in what seems like forever. And then... stand up and do a great happy dance...and tell God thanks...for the big and little gifts He's given you...



©2009 Until... | by TNB