Updated: Jun 7, 2021
“One song can change a moment, one idea can change a world, one step can start a journey, but a PRAYER can change the impossible.” - Unknown
I experienced the miraculous. There is no other way to explain it but an answer to heard prayer. Not just a prayer, but many, innumerable prayers for the same thing, for the same person said over and over again and over a period of two decades and by multiple people. I had dubbed it "Mission Impossible".
If I am being honest, I really felt like praying for this situation was futile, like I was wasting time and hope on something that would never happen. Not because I doubted God's ability or faithfulness to answer, but because the person being prayed for was hell-bent on refusal. Even so, there I was, keeping at it, feeling like a desperate farmer who, no matter hard they tried, could not get the planted seed to sprout.
My youngest brother had grown into the hardest-shelled atheist I knew; one of stony heart and hardened ground. He would laugh and sneer when God was brought up at family gatherings. When we prayed at meals he would stand there and roll his eyes and turn away. He was certain we were crazy and had a few (or all) screws loose because we spoke to and believed in something we could not see.
He was also a heroin addict. He would rob, lie, and cheat to get high on (ironically) the thing that would bring him to the lowest form of himself. After yet another bout of him stealing from my husband and I to get drugs, I was undone, like a frayed out rope, when I cried out to God hollering "Tell me please, WHY is he even still here? Why are you allowing him to still breathe and take up space if all he wants to do is kill himself and do harm to everyone else?" Not my most Christ-like moment, I know. I still wince at how cruel that was, but bitterness had taken root in me and its ugliness poured out unchecked - I felt out of control, because I was.
Seeking a way out of my madness, I opened my Bible and the scripture I immediately look upon is Luke 13:6-9 (I kid you not):
The Useless Tree
'"Jesus told this story: “A man had a fig tree planted in his vineyard. He came looking for some fruit on the tree, but he found none. So the man said to his gardener, ‘I have been looking for fruit on this tree for three years, but I never find any. Cut it down. Why should it waste the ground?’ But the servant answered, ‘Master, let the tree have one more year to produce fruit. Let me dig up the dirt around it and put on some fertilizer. If the tree produces fruit next year, good. But if not, you can cut it down." '(NCV)
After scraping up my jaw from the floor boards, I exclaimed: "Yes! One more year! Lord, give us one more year!" I called my mom and told her what just happened and proclaimed our mission: Pray each day for a year for my brother's restoration and redemption. Pray in belief that God was working in his life. Pray that He would send whatever and whoever was required to tend the soil, water the growth, and prune the branches. God is good and He is faithful - we would stand on this foundation, waiting in anticipation.
My brother soon after finally hit rock bottom and checked into a live-in rehab center. Friends, a year later almost to the day, he began his new life. At rehab, he met a kind, Christian woman who reintroduced him to Jesus, the One tending to him all along and bringing him back from the dead. We got to celebrate his 40th birthday and I gave him the above fig tree scripture and told him how many prayers had been said for him over the years. He was receptive and grateful.
The very next day, I visited my sister-in-law (who was unaware of the situation with my brother) and she immediately handed me a fig from her neighbors yard saying "There are so many figs growing on his tree he is giving them away!" God winks and nods in my direction, telling me in the most profound and direct way - "I've got this".
On Thanksgiving my mom and I talked to my brother about God again and asked him where he found his "end of life, last-breath-here-on-earth hope" and he did not shut the conversation down or sprint out of the room, but instead, he stayed and spoke to us and took it in. Sprouts of fresh renewal broke through - rebirth's shoots apparent. Then, three Sundays ago, I got to see with my own two unbelieving eyes what God can do with the "impossible".
There I was, sitting in church hearing a sermon about the power of the Holy Spirit, when both my husband and my daughter tap me on each shoulder and point eagerly to the left of the sanctuary, saying "Look!" I then watch in shock as my little brother walked in by himself and sat down. I just about fell over.
Shaking, I told my family: "Guys, we just witnessed a miracle here today". The church we were attending was not close to where he lived, it was not the church he knew we would be at since we had recently just changed churches and had not told anyone. This moment was no coincidence, far from it - no, this was pre-planned and pre-ordained by God Himself, a miracle unfurled, right in front of my saucer-sized, unbelieving eyes.
I tell this to you to encourage you to never give up! To all of you who have begged, pleaded and cried out to God asking for the seemingly preposterous, absurd, and impossible, feeling like me, that there is no way. Let me assure you here and now, with God there is always a way. Now, we just need to trust and know deep and assured:
"For with God, nothing is impossible." (Luke 1:37)
And dear friend, your mission, if you choose to accept it, is to pray like you believe this verse and all it promises. My brother's turn around is proof-positive - I will never doubt again.
What we call "Mission Impossible", God calls "Mission Accomplished".
Question: What is something you have prayed for and feel God has not heard? Will you accept the mission today to keep hopeful and believe that God can do all things?