Discover more from Things I Wrote Down
Falling over waterfalls and living to tell the tale.
How remembering miracles and looking to the past builds faith in the present.
I hold onto stories. I curate remembrances. This is one of the weapons in my faith arsenal. Especially when I need to see breakthrough or a miracle.
We all need them. Now or in the future.
If miracle is too strong a word for you, then consider: “divine-intervention-that-changes-your-circumstance-in-a-way-that-you-yourself-cannot-so-that-in-your-human-smallness-you-raise-a-prayer-of-thanks-for-the-needed-change-that-you-can-claim-no-responsibility-or-credit-for.”
I’ve received miracles. And I’ve also not been granted the needed change I most hoped for. While I could spend much time unpacking this duality, I’m not going to park there in this post.
Instead, I want to, briefly, share about a miracle I got caught up in that was documented in the national news. (Don’t worry, it’s not about double-yolked eggs). It’s a go-to story that resurrects faith in my heart, especially when I’m pushed up against the walls of my limitations or, like Neil Young, feel a little helpless.
Want more Remnant posts? Read my exploration of King Hezekiah being hooked up to a heart rate monitor or my recent side-by-side exploration of Moses and Elijah going up to the mountain.
A waterfall, a journalist and a Hobbit comparison
The following is an excerpt from a reflection I wrote some time ago, when I was asked to share about a wild experience I had in Malaysia.
My friend fell over a waterfall where many people have died. A journalist happened to be there to document the horrific plunge. I helped to carry him down the mountain and then was beside his hospital bed as the doctors gave us the grim news that, after all he survived, a tear in his brain might trigger meningitis. It was a harrowing experience for everyone.
But the short of it is that we were completely helpless and undeniably in need of God’s immediate help. And we received it. Simply because God is good and he intervenes in the lives of undeserving people.
Here’s the anecdote:
“God, if you don’t do something, Johnny will die!” The words burst out of me, the most honest words I had ever said in my life. I said the prayer before I helped haul Johnny’s limp body out of the water, after my hands and clothes were soaked in blood from his gaping wound and cracked skull. Some of the students were panicked, others were praying loudly over the sound of the waterfall, an astonishing tourist attraction more than fifty feet high that my roommate, Johnny, had moments earlier fell from head first into a pool of water no more than three feet deep.
“Stay with us, Johnny, we’re on our way to the hospital,” I said as my friend, barely conscious, gripped my hand. Melanie, the school’s leader, was behind the wheel of our old Toyota van, driving faster than anyone would normally dare on the treacherous road that winded its way along a cliff down towards the small Malaysian town of Tana Rata. There were six of us in the van, speeding towards the hospital. I fought Johnny, pinned his arms against his side to keep him from confusedly touching his wound. The others muttered prayers, fought car-sickness, and stared wide-eyed at their beloved friend, covered in blood.
Our small Bible school was out on a field trip to study the book of Exodus, escaping the heat of Penang Island for the hilly tea region known as the Cameron Highlands. Like Moses we left for the mountains to seek God, wanting, as a group, to experience faith in a new way. We got a little more than we bargained for, suddenly faced with our personal limitations and absolute need for an awesome God.
If God doesn’t move, our friend will die!
As I watched the Malaysian jungle scream by in a green blur toward the hospital, as I softly spoke words of encouragement to my friend, I didn’t know what lay ahead: frightening ambulance rides, tense moments in the ICU, sometimes questionable health care, and frustrating language barriers. I didn’t know that I would see before my very eyes God bring complete healing and restoration to my friend over a few weeks, while medical professionals and local Malaysians gasped that “everyone who goes over that waterfall dies.” I didn’t know the tragedy would turn into a miracle, but I hoped and prayed. It was all I could do.
So, what’s your waterfall?
Like past-Andrew, you might be in a waterfall moment, caught up in circumstances you didn’t invite or imagine, but unfolding rapidly in front of you nonetheless.
It might be a recent diagnosis. It might be the end of something you didn’t expect. It might be a hundred other indignities, surprises or challenges. Lives may not be on the line, but your hopeful outlook or faith could be.
As a friend and fellow sojourner, I humbly invite you to look back, to a moment in your timeline, where something undeniably wonderful or good took place. Where you saw the hand of God reach in to help you or someone you know.
If one doesn’t come to mind right now, that’s okay! Feel free to grab hold of this little story I shared as a signpost to orient you to the truth that God is a ever present help in a time of trouble.
These current struggles are instances where God is marking our journeys with signposts. And they will stand as witnesses of his faithfulness from a vantage point in the future.
Remembering and reflecting upon moments when God intervened in the past builds faith in the present. Remembrance is a way to strengthen feeble hands and wobbly knees in the journey of life. To answer the call to be strong and unafraid in times that require those things most.
So we can keep walking forward.