Miracle on 5th Street (I once was deaf, but now I hear)

Miracle on 5th Street

I would not consider myself to be a prayer warrior. But, I do pray. Not because I believe in the power of prayer, but because I believe in the power of God. At times, I have prayed big, brave, badass prayers; but for the most part, in tough situations I try to pray “make it count” before I pray “make it better”.

So, keeping my general cowardice in prayer in mind, I have a story to tell you.

I’ve waged a long war with illness this winter, and early in January, I lost hearing in my left ear. A course of antibiotics and a bunch of other medicines could not clear it up. Instead, it grew worse, and after a month, my right ear decided that since misery loves company it, too, would start to block up.

Coupled with weeks of coughing, sewer drama, pneumonia, family crises and my daughter coming home with headlice, I was at my wits end. I had agreed to speak at our church’s women’s retreat, as well as at a college ministry function; and with just days to go – I was exhausted and partially deaf. My mom nagged me to go to the doctor. “I don’t have time,” I protested. “What little time I have, I need to prepare for retreat.” But she prevailed on me: I needed a better plan.

One Friday morning, I left my children with the babysitter and escaped to a coffee shop. My agenda for the morning was simple: make an appointment with the doctor, get out of the college speaking engagement, and do some prep work for the retreat. I settled in with a latte at the coffee shop, only to discover I couldn’t connect to the wifi, and so, unable to contact the doctor or the college pastor, I dived into retreat prep.

My passage for study was James 4 and I made steady notes, mentally formulating my talks about our Father who loves us and who invites us to ask him for our heart’s desires. I found myself continuing to James 5, where all of a sudden these verses leapt up at me:

12 But above all, my brothers, do not swear, either by heaven or by earth or by any other oath, but let your “yes” be yes and your “no” be no, so that you may not fall under condemnation.

13 Is anyone among you suffering? Let him pray. Is anyone cheerful? Let him sing praise.14 Is anyone among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord.

Really? Really? This verse, right there, right then, while I was preparing talks about asking our loving Father for big, bold, heartfelt things?

The contrast could not have been clearer. My “wise” plan for coping had been to 1) say no to my commitment, and 2) call a doctor about my illness. But here were two verses that say 1) let your yes remain yes, and 2) ask the elders to pray if you’re sick. Oh, and use oil.

The words simple obedience floated in my mind, and I surrendered in tears. I sent a message to the college pastor, assuring him I’d be there the following Tuesday; and I mentally rehearsed how to phrase my awkward request to the elders.

I spent the afternoon tending to kids and re-checking my daughter for nits. I had a meeting at church later that night, at which several of the elders would be present. Leaving home, I hastily grabbed the tea-tree oil we’d been using for lice treatments and stuffed it into my purse. On the drive over, though, I felt sheepish about the oil, and resolved to just ask them to pray instead. Surely the oil was symbolic, anyway? Simple Obedience came to mind, but I squashed it.

We finished up our meeting, each person speaking clearly and slowly since I’d explained I had lost most of my hearing. When the meeting was over, I sheepishly explained about James and all the coffee-house tears earlier that day, and asked them to pray. They gathered around and laid hands on my shoulders and prayed for God to please heal my ears.

We said our Amens, and things were that strange combination of warm-and-awkward, and someone made a joke that there should have been oil. I threw my face into my palms and confessed, “I actually have oil in my purse but I felt too stupid to bring it out!”

“Well, then let’s use the oil,” someone said, and so – adding to the awkwardness – they gathered around once more and removed my tea tree oil from its ziploc back and wads of paper towel (so holy, I know) – and prayed once more, this time dabbing some of the lice-repellant on my forehead.

Another round of amens brought everything to a close, and I packed up my oil into its plastic bag and made my way to the parking lot. What was that about, Lord? I wondered, pulling my car out into the dark, foggy road.

Thirty seconds later, tiredness caught up with me and I yawned. My left ear crackled and I was suddenly engulfed by a wave of nausea. My vision swam in front of my eyes and I gripped the steering wheel, afraid I would black out. I pulled over, Jesus-take-the-wheel-style, hoping I wouldn’t land in a ditch, and waited for the nausea to pass and my vision to settle down.

I yawned again, and this time my right ear crackled and another wave of nausea washed over me. I closed my eyes, waiting for the horrible swimming sensation to go away. As it ebbed away, I blew my nose and yawned again, trying to shake out the clogged feeling that remained in my ear. With that, my right ear suddenly cleared: and with two ears now open for the first time in six weeks, I realized that the radio was on. I hadn’t been able to hear it before, but now with crystal clarity the beloved voices of Simon & Garfunkel singing these, the first words that drifted into my nearly-restored ears:

Here’s to you, Mrs Robinson,

Jesus loves you more than you will know.

God bless you please, Mrs Robinson,

Heaven holds a place for those who pray.

Hey. hey. hey.

I sat in the car and cried and cried: tears of gratitude and surprise and the overwhelming knowledge of being loved and heard by a Father who cares.

And all of a sudden it made sense: the talks on asking our loving Father boldly for our deep desires, the call to simple obedience, and even the silliness of the oil. Because no matter how old we get or how sophisticated people may think we are, some truths bear repeating: Jesus loves you more than you will know, and heaven holds a place for those who pray.

 

 

13 thoughts on “Miracle on 5th Street (I once was deaf, but now I hear)

  1. God’s power in prayer – what a beautiful reminder of how he loves us in so many ways, Bron. I’m glad you’re hearing better and you were able to give the talks. God blessed others through your teaching, I’m sure, just as he has blessed us through your words here.

  2. I needed this reminder that we are called to simple obedience in Christ. So often I think that my extravagant and more conventional ways are what will lead me closer to Him. But instead, he calls for simple, trusting obedience. What a beautiful, grace-filled reminder. Thank you for sharing!

  3. Color me elderly! Let me say that we never get too old to be reminded of the truth here. As we age and hopefully get wiser?? we still need to be reminded to just let it go of our wise plans and trust and pray.

  4. What a story! I’m thankful that you were healed and able to speak. Prayer is powerful!

    When you wrote about the tea tree oil and paper towels in a ziploc bag, I thought about how these seemingly humble, often disgusting, but practical things were used for a holy purpose. (I’ve seen some nasty things end up in plastic baggies and don’t get me started about what paper towels soak up . . .!) Often, the strangest things are both practical and holy. God doesn’t make the distinctions between sacred and secular that we do. 🙂

  5. This is so phenomenal. God keeps his word, and his instructions to us are for our good!!! So encouraged, Bron!

  6. WOW!!!! Awesome. Beautiful. The Glory of the Lord in the land of the living. I am so thrilled for you, Bronwyn! Now, for your kiddo’s ears. At least read Norman Doidge’s The Brain’s Way of Healing Ch, 8 and see that it ends where Listening for the Light starts. He tells a wonderful story of healing of autism through amplified, high-frequency music (the Tomatis Method). God has allowed your deafness so you will understand his. And thank you for the reminder that when God speaks, things happen if we will obey. Bless you for your obedience. God help me to be as faithful.

  7. Thanks for sharing, Bron. Dissolved into tears about half-way through 🙂
    A great reminder to also not give up praying and to follow the God who cares. I will tell you about my story some time (knitting-needle-stuck-in-foot incident from last year 🙂 ) God always honours faithfulness.

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