Friday, November 09, 2007

The Stuff of Miracles

Must a miracle always be some grandiose, wondrous event, or can the ordinary fabric of our everyday lives be the stuff of miracles? According to dictionary.com, this is a miracle:

1. an effect or extraordinary event in the physical world that surpasses all known human or natural powers and is ascribed to a supernatural cause.
2. such an effect or event manifesting or considered as a work of God.
3. a wonder; marvel.
4. a wonderful or surpassing example of some quality: a miracle of modern acoustics.

Although they may not be extraordinary by the standards of some, I have experienced a few miracles in the past year or two. The first one I'm going to mention will no doubt strike some as trivial, but believe me, the issue was of monumental importance! You see my husband, up until the time he married me, was a notorious snorer. Shortly before we were married, he accompanied my family on a week long vacation to Catalina Island (my family rents a condo there for one week every year). He slept downstairs on a pullout bed, and I and most of the rest of my family slept upstairs. Let me tell you, his snoring could be heard all the way upstairs. My poor cousins who had to sleep downstairs didn't get much sleep. His breathing sounded like someone was trying to push a bunch of circles through square holes! Now, just so you understand the seriousness of this situation, let me tell you what my sleep situation at the time was. I was an extremely light sleeper and an insomniac to boot. Almost every night was a struggle for me to get to sleep, and the conditions had to be just so -- minimal amounts of light and noise. It got so bad that I had to seek medical help, but that's another post for another day. Anyway, you can see that I had cause for concern before our wedding.

This is where the first miracle comes in. Since the day we were married Ian has not had a problem snoring. And what's more, I usually don't have any trouble sleeping. It's like somehow our bodies and our minds made the necessary adjustments for us to sleep by each other's sides. Once in a while he'll start to snore softly, but a gentle elbow jab to his side solves the problem immediately (whereas my cousins tried shaking him continuously in order to wake him up on the family vacation ... to no avail). And once in a while I'll feel a bit wakeful because I drank coffee after 5:00 PM, but a few minutes of Ian reading the Bible to me in Chinese or of listening to the rhythm of his breathing puts me to sleep. Believe me, if you knew us before we were married, you would say this was a miracle too!

The second miracle is more recent. Ian started a new job a few weeks ago. By the way, before I go any further I want to thank all of you who prayed for us about this matter. Ian ended up getting a fabulous new job, and I ended up getting to see the evidence of everyone's prayers. Thank you! The only annoying thing is that putting a new job on our ARC (alien residency card) can be a pain. And for some reason, we were under the impression that we had thirty days to do this once the old job was off of the ARC. This was very stupid on our part; we should have just researched it ourselves. But we also thought that if there was any rush, surely either his old employer or new employer would let him know. This was not the case. You have to fend for yourself here, and most people have no idea what they're talking about anyway.

My husband decided to check the official rules and regulations of all of this ARC stuff because we wanted to see if he had to have a new physical examination for the new job or not. We were more than a little dismayed by what we saw. It turned out that once the old job is off the ARC you have seven days, not thirty, to get out of the country. If you don't have a new job within seven days you have to leave the country. If you overstay you have to pay a fee somewhere between $30,000 and $100,000 NT (about $1,000 - $3,000 U.S.) -- a fee that we can't afford right now!

We could have been worried. Maybe we were for a moment. But we prayed and somehow I felt power in that prayer. It's hard to describe, the assurance was almost tangible -- something to be grasped. I don't always feel this way when I pray, but God gave me this assurance that night. The very next day Ian went down to the immigration office to sort things out. It turned out that for some reason his paperwork was delayed in being processed (a good thing for once), and that it had come through to the immigration office exactly seven days ago. So even though my husband had quit his job almost three weeks ago, the immigration office didn't know about it until seven days prior to my husband coming in. That meant that his last day to take care of everything was that very day. Because he came in before his 7 days were up (just barely) he was able to get an extension (for thirty days) so he could get the required health exam and take care of everything. God had taken care of us, and we would not have to pay a huge fee or go on a visa run to Hong Kong.

The above two situations are some of the more recent miracles that have taken place. There have been many more in my life, but I'm hesitant to mention them for fear that someone will think them too "ordinary" to be considered a miracle. Some things are really only meaningful to the person directly involved. Like the painfully shy girl who gathers the courage to make a speech. To her, that's a miracle. To others, maybe it's commonplace. For the situations that I mentioned, the real miracle is that God allowed us to play a part in the outcome. Could He have solved the problem without us praying? Of course. Would He have? Maybe. But I think He likes it when we ask for things. It's a blessing for us because he places a bit of power in our hands when we do that, and we feel the magnitude and the beauty of it. The beauty of being used by God to accomplish great things when He could just as easily do it without us. I'm not saying our prayer solved our immigration problem on its own. But God hearing and responding to our prayer did. That my friends, is your everyday miracle.

5 comments:

  1. I enjoyed your miracles post. I have often thought that the difference between answered prayers and miracles is time. In both we get our answer. Miracles are quicker and therefore get our attention as something remarkable. Prayers may not always get answers as quickly, but come they will if we persevere in prayer. I am learning to leave it up to God to either "do a miracle" or simply "answer our prayer." Both work.

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  2. Guy,

    Great insight! Do you think a miracle and answered prayer can be one in the same sometimes?

    Jennifer,

    You're so sweet for always visiting me! =)

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  3. I love it! Yay for God's Hand in the Big and little things.

    My Chris is now looking for a job. Pray for him as he looks...and for me to be an encourager (his current job is on the brink of being gone).

    I believe that God works miracles all the time. The fact that I am typing and blinking and swallowing coffee and thinking about you and this and praying for you and praising God for the things He has done and listening to my family in the next room (all at once!) is quite a miracle.

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  4. Crownlaiddown,

    You make me smile! I'll be praying for your husband and your family.

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