A PLACE OF MIRACLES
Saint Anne's Church, located adjacent to the Pool of Bethesda in Jerusalem, is a beautiful 12th-century crusader church, erected over the traditional site of the birthplace of Mary's mother. Most of what remains today is original.
Saint Anne's acoustics, designed for Gregorian chant, are so perfect that the church is virtually a musical instrument to be played by the human voice. The acoustics are most amazing when used by a soprano or a tenor solo voice.
Thursday morning, April 25, 2013, I experienced a miracle in Saint Anne's Church. Our group had just heard a teaching on healing. As others sat and talked, I felt led to locate a quiet place to pray and found a step that led down into the Pool's ancient ruins. With many health issues and an impending surgery, I had been praying for healing. However, that morning, as I sat on that step, my prayer was different.
Fifteen years prior, I had been a worship leader for five years. God had gifted me with a voice and talent that was not of my own making. It was a gift. However, to my dismay, my voice began experiencing problems and over time, I could no longer sing. I went to specialists who told me that my vocal cords were scarred from acid reflux. Their prognosis was devastating. One of my greatest joys had been in worshipping God and experiencing His presence through the music.
Over the years, I had prayed and prayed for healing. After seven years of unanswered prayer, I asked God why He hadn't healed me. His answer stunned and devastated me, "You love the music more than me." With tears and great remorse, I repented and told the Lord that I would accept His will.
Eight more years passed, and as I sat on that step of the Pool, I prayed a simple prayer. "Lord, You know that I have asked for physical healing of my body, but more than that, I long to lift my voice to You in worship. If my heart is now right before You, will You restore the gift of music to me? I will accept Your will."
I joined the others as they made their way into the church, that had already filled with tourists. Our tour leader directed us to the front rows, where she began to lead us in worship. As we were finishing our last song, the Lord spoke to me in my spirit, "I want you to sing The Lord's Prayer to me." Stunned, I answered, "Lord, You know I can't sing." He repeated, "I want you to sing The Lord's Prayer to me." Suddenly, I felt an electric shock shoot through my body. Trembling, I knew that I MUST sing. In faith, I opened my mouth and began singing an octave higher than I had ever sung. My voice resonated and echoed in that glorious church. When I finished, I realized that I had just been given my miracle.
People were saying, "It sounded like an angel singing." "Who was it?" "Was it a recording?" With a smile and a hug from my tour coordinator, she answered, "That was Joy."
A professional opera singer and teacher, who was traveling with the group, later told me that I had sung coloratura mezzo-soprano, which is the highest and most perfect soprano known. All I knew was that I had worshipped the Lord in obedience and was overwhelmed with gratitude for what He had done. Not only had He restored my voice, but He had given me a stronger and more powerful voice. When the women in my group said, "I didn't know you could sing?" I answered, "Today, you witnessed a miracle."
An edited version was published in the "International Christian Embassy Jerusalem Magazine"
Epilogue: The most remarkable miracle was not the restoration of my voice. The greatest miracle was the change that had taken place within my heart. I had been completely unaware that my heart was not right before the Lord, but because of His great love for me, He withheld the one thing that had captured my heart and was separating me from Him. When I recognized my sin and repented, He restored that gift. To know that my heart was at last right before Him was the greatest gift of all.
We must be very careful to check our motives and what we value most. I had thought that I loved God with all of my heart, but somewhere along the way, my heart became enamored with the gift, unaware that I had esteemed the gift greater than the Giver.
I am grateful that my heavenly Father's love is so magnanimous that He withheld my gift for a season, so that I would grow in truth, knowledge, and wisdom. It was during that questioning time that my relationship with Him became closer and stronger.
When we pray and wait and no answers come, it is tempting to ask God if He really cares, or if He is even listening. Let me assure you, that He does care and He is listening, but His plans far exceed the desires we have for our lives. Know that He always has a purpose in His delays, for His timing is impeccable. However, He calls each one to first seek Him and His righteousness, and then those things that we desire will be added to us (Matthew 6:33). The caveat to this is that we must first trust Him, for without trust there can be no faith, and without faith, there is no hope.
2015 is the year of restoration, renewal and revived hope. God is pouring out His Spirit on mankind, wooing and drawing us to Him. We must seek Him now while He can be found, for He wants to heal, restore, deliver, and bless those who place Him first. He said, "You shall have no other gods before Me" (Exodus 20:3) We must examine our walk and ask ourselves if there is anything that we hold a greater value to, then our God. If we are setting Him aside for a worldly activity, talent, hobby, pursuit, or person, then we are serving those things and placing them above Him. This is not to say that we can't enjoy all of those things. God gave us this world and everything in it for our enjoyment. However, we must be good stewards of our time, gifts, talents, values, and priorities, so that those things don't become more important than Him.
God, who is the Creator of the universe, will not take a back seat to anyone or anything. We serve and worship what we value most. Where is God in our daily activities? Is He first when we awake to a new day? Do we pursue Him throughout our day, or is He a casual afterthought, a punctuation at the end of our day? We must seek Him with ALL OF OUR HEART. He doesn't want our leftovers.
How often I pursued God when my needs were the greatest in my life, but when my needs and desires were met, my pursuit of Him lessened. My experience with my voice taught me that to walk with Christ is to pursue Him everyday and not just when there is a need to be fulfilled. Our Lord is relational; He wants our whole heart, not just a small part of it.
God once showed me in a dream a house that had many rooms and each room had a door. The doors to the rooms were opened, but there was one room that I had locked. I was puzzled by this and inquired of the Lord. He answered that our hearts are like homes with many rooms with doors. The opened doors are those places in our hearts that we willingly surrender to Him. The rooms where the doors are closed and locked, are those areas that we tenaciously cling to and refuse to relinquish to Him.
Let this be the year that we surrender all, while diligently and passionately seeking Him with all of our hearts and strength. Let us expand our prayer time and learn to commune with Him, as we would fellowship with our dearest friend. God doesn't want to be a casual acquaintance or an afterthought at the end of our day. His Word tells us that if we draw near to Him, He will draw near to us (James 4:8). Therefore, let us open all the doors of our hearts to Him that He may bless, heal, and restore us, as we pursue Him first and not the blessings and miracles that He so eagerly desires to provide.