Viewing the clear autumn nighttime sky, it is easy to think about the majesty of our creator. Daytime hours demand our attention to the routine part of life, taking care of family, making a living, dealing with health issues, and relationships.
When darkness falls, though, it takes away the short, horizontal view of life. If one steps outdoors on a clear night, the true relationship of mankind to the rest of the universe is quickly observed. Perspective can be gained in the blink of an eye.
In his 2004 book, "90 Minutes in Heaven," the Rev. Don Piper explained a personal miracle, when, after a horrific car crash with an 18-wheeler on a bridge in 1989, he was declared dead by several paramedics.
It was when Dick Onerecker, a pastor who happened to be in the stalled traffic line, walked up to the scene to help, and began to pray, that the miracle happened. He reached into the wreckage and put his hand on Don's right shoulder. Praying and singing, Dick knew Don was dead, but he prayed anyway.
What must Dick have felt when, after some time, Don began to sing, "What A Friend We Have in Jesus," along with him. What did those paramedics feel when they heard a dead man singing an hour and a half after he had been declared dead.
Piper writes about his experience in heaven that seems unreal, yet, miraculously, he suffered no brain damage from the accident. A tremendously long and difficult recovery included several surgeries, and years of pain. And, that very pain has led him to a committed life of purpose.
He shares four particular lessons from this experience: First, that God answers prayer; second, that God is still in the miracle business; third, that he wants as many people as possible to go to heaven; and fourth, he feels an urgency about helping people open their lives so they can be assured that heaven is where they'll go when they die.
As Onerecker knows, having the gift of faith from the Lord to pray for healing means more than reciting names on a list and asking God to heal them. It takes 100 percent belief in Jesus Christ's resurrection and 100 percent belief of God's truths in the Holy Scriptures. And, it takes an ongoing, personal relationship, every day of one's life, with Christ , by the Holy Spirit.
In his book, "Caring People," the Rev. Warren Wiersbe reminds us that we don't always know God's will for people, that we must sincerely pray and rely on the Holy Spirit's guidance in our prayers.
Remember that Paul's prayers in 2 Corinthians 12 didn't bring him healing, but they did bring him the grace he needed to transform his affliction into blessing. In his weakness and pain, he discovered spiritual strength.
Wiersbe says the transformation of pain into blessing is perhaps a greater miracle than the removal of the cause of pain.
When so many are facing various kinds of pain today, we need to intercede for one another, pray that God will care for them, assist them with their needs, and give them a blessed ministry in the midst of their suffering.
God's Holy Spirit inspired the prayers recorded in Scripture, and we can use them as we pray for ourselves and for others. For example, the Psalms contain prayers for every situation of life. Ephesians 1:15-23 is a prayer for wisdom and for spiritual insight into God's Word and will. All scripture is breathed by the Holy Spirit for us to use and declare for our own.
Miracles happen every day. Faith reveals them. Prayers connect the dots between human dust balls and their maker. When we look up toward heaven, and believe what we don't see as much as what we do see, we know we are part of a magnificent creation, for sure.
Bonnie Donnelly is a member of the First Presbyterian Church in Marietta. Thoughts of Faith is a weekly column written by various ministers and lay people. Those interested in scheduling a date for writing a Thoughts of Faith column should contact Janet Gossett at 376-5446 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Or, if a Thoughts of Faith column is written at the writer's convenience and sent to The Times, it will run the first available date.