Sunday, December 14, 2014

A season to believe

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles,/

Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel. – Isaiah 7:14 NIV
Nothing, you see, is impossible with God. – Luke 1:37 The Message

I met Sue Swan in 1997 when I began a writers group in Punxsutawney. She and her family had recently moved to the area when her husband accepted a job as the director of a local ministry.
Sue was the answer to my prayers. I’d been writing and submitting my work, but I had much to learn about the craft of writing and the world of publishing. Even though I’d gotten several pieces published nationally and was a feature writer for the local newspaper, I felt like I was way out in left field, all alone without a clue what to do when the ball came to me.
Enter Sue Swan. She’d read my classified ad about a writers group I was starting and showed up at the first meeting. Not only was she a published author, but she was also a member of the board of directors for the St. Davids Christian Writers Conference, held at Geneva College in Beaver Falls every June.
We became fast friends. She had much to offer, and I was so hungry to learn. We discovered we had much in common: faith, a love for tea and reading, a desire to serve God through our writing, and our birthday—November 5.
Sue was instrumental in me attending my first writing conference, nominating me for a scholarship to the St. Davids conference, which I received. I couldn’t have afforded to attend otherwise. Eventually I became a member of the board of directors myself. Not only did I learn a great deal about writing and publishing, but I also made lifetime friendships.
Sue and her family eventually moved back to the Pittsburgh area. Her new job prevented her from staying involved with the St. Davids group, and we drifted out of touch. One year she showed up at the conference wearing an oxygen mask. A cylinder of the life-giving gas accompanied her wherever she went.
She’d been diagnosed with sarcoidosis, a chronic, progressive lung disease, which led to pulmonary arterial hypertension. There is no cure for either disease. Her only hope for her worsening condition was a lung transplant. Despite her prognosis, however, she remained cheerful and upbeat—and encouraging to others.
I continued to pray for her and receive updates, but the news was never good.
Until July 24, 2014—the day she was healed.
Yes, I said healed.
That was the day she and her husband, Tom, attended a breakfast session at the International Gideons Convention in Philadelphia, and a man asked to pray for her. She consented. Here is what happened, in Sue’s own words:
“I drew in a deep breath—and for the first time in ten years felt my lungs fully inflate. I took another deep breath with the same result. The constriction that had been getting progressively worse was gone. I jumped up, sobbing, laughing, and praising God. I threw my arms around Tom and said, ‘I can breathe! Sweetheart, I CAN BREATHE!’ ”*
I saw Sue in October. She drove up from Pittsburgh for the Punxsutawney Christian Women’s Conference and stayed with me overnight Saturday night. There is no sign of her illnesses.
Christmas is a season of miracles. Everything surrounding the birth of Jesus was miraculous: barren Elizabeth conceiving and bearing the forerunner of the Messiah; the appearances of angels to an old priest, to an engaged young woman, to a bewildered fiancé, and to a group of shivering shepherds; a virgin birth; a wondrous star that guided three wise men from the East to the newborn baby; the escape of that baby from a crazed king.
You’ve read the story.
But it’s more than a story. It’s more than God reaching down and touching mankind, blessing us with a miracle.
It’s God actually leaving the splendors of heaven to inhabit a human body and live with us on earth so He could provide the way for us to be with Him forever.
Christmas is the season we want to believe in miracles. So many need one now.
So go ahead—believe a miracle can happen. Believe in the impossible.
“We serve a God of power, love, and miracles,” writes Sue. “I am living proof that miracles did not end with recorded scripture. God is still sovereign and still delights in miraculously healing His children.”
I do believe, Lord! Help me overcome my unbelief! (Mark 9:24) Amen.

Special-Tea: Read Luke 1:26–38

*To read Sue’s story, “God Still Works Miracles,” on her blog, click here.

The story is told in four parts, which include her miraculous healing, the story of the man who laid his hands on her head and prayed for her, her subsequent visits to her doctors, and other “God-incidences” surrounding this miracle.

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