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.
On the morning of 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 health issues and an impending neck surgery, I had been praying for healing. However, that morning, as I sat on the 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. However, to my dismay, my voice began experiencing problems and over time, I could no longer sing. Specialists told me that my vocal cords were scarred from acid reflux. Their diagnosis was devastating, because one of my greatest joys had been worshipping God in song.
Over the years, I 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 of 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 for 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 song to me? I will accept Your will."
I joined the others as they made their way into the church that had quickly filled with tourists. Our tour guide directed us to the front rows, where she began to lead us in worship. As we were finishing our last song, the Lord spoke into 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, a current coursed through my body. Trembling, I knew that I MUST sing. In obedient faith, I opened my mouth and began singing an octave higher than I had ever sung. My voice resonated and echoed throughout that glorious church. When I finished, I realized that I had been given my miracle.
People commented, "It sounded like an angel singing." "Who was it?" "Was it a recording?" With a smile and a hug from our tour coordinator, she answered, "That was Joy." Yes, that moment was pure "joy."
A professional opera singer and teacher, who was traveling with the group, told me that I had sung coloratura mezzo-soprano, which is the highest and most perfect soprano known. All I knew was that I was overwhelmed with gratitude.
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 unaware of my prideful heart, but because of God's great love for me, He had withheld the one thing that had captured my heart and separated me from His will. When I recognized my sin of pride and humbly repented, He restored the gift.
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.
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 simple punctuation at the end of our day? We must seek Him with ALL OF OUR HEART. He doesn't want our leftovers.
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, except for one room that was 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 have surrendered to God. Locked rooms represent those things that we tenaciously cling to and refuse to relinquish to Him.
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. Be assured; He cares and is listening, but because He is more concerned with our heart attitude, He may withhold or delay answering our prayers, with the purpose of getting our attention. That is when we need to press in and seek Him even more.
God calls us 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 trust Him, for without trust there can be no faith, and without faith, it is impossible to please God (Hebrews 11:6).
One of my favorite scriptures and one that I often refer to is Jeremiah 29:11-16, "For I know the plans I have for you," declares the Lord, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call on Me and come and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. You will seek Me and find Me when you seek Me with all your heart.
Our heavenly Father 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 make 2018 the year we open all the doors of our heart to Him, so 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.
FATHER, if there is pride or sin residing in my heart, reveal it to me, so that I may repent and seek Your forgiveness. Show me any locked doors in my heart. Give me a heart that desires to seek You and Your will, and fill my heart with a passion and longing to know and understand Your Word, so that I may walk in truth. In Jesus name, amen.