Miracles Still Happen
A miracle happened to me shortly after I got saved. I call it a miracle because I don’t know how else to describe it.
I was 18 years old, living with my grandparents, and a freshman at Eastern Connecticut State College. I had just started going to meetings at a Christian coffeehouse called the Burning Bush. It was a little building on Bricktop Road in Willimantic, CT. There were “praise meetings” on Friday nights and Bible Study on Monday nights. The building had one long, narrow room (and one tiny bathroom). There was a small stage at the front, with a huge painting of a burning bush behind it. There were only a few chairs, and these were reserved for the “older” folks (those over 30). Almost everyone there was in their teens or early twenties. It was the age of bellbottoms and long hair. The “Jesus Revolution,” as Time magazine called it, was in full swing. People called us “Jesus freaks,” which was fine with me since I had been called much crueler nicknames before getting saved.
My previous life had been filled with verbal and emotional abuse, bullying, rejection, loneliness and depression. The kids in my childhood and youth had been hurtful and hateful to me, and at the ripe old age of 18 I had determined I had no use for kids. Frankly, I had developed a hatred for children. I saw them as little monsters, and didn’t want to be anywhere near them. I was planning a quiet career as a librarian, and children would not be a part of my life.
But God had other ideas.
The Night Everything Changed
I was a brand-new believer and hungry for more of Jesus, so that Friday night I positioned myself directly in front of the stage. The meeting began with the vibrant music of guitars, piano and drums. Everyone stood singing, hands lifted in worship. The songs were simple choruses, many of them Bible verses set to music, and the praise was exuberant. It went on for quite awhile, and when it ended the pastor would tell everyone to have a seat. For most of us this meant sitting crosslegged on the floor, but being young we didn’t mind at all.
On this particular Friday night, only a few weeks after I was saved, the bathroom door opened just as we were seated. A little blond-haired boy came out and slowly began weaving his way through the crowd, looking around as if trying to find his parents.
A moment later he was standing in front of me. I looked up, and he gave me a huge grin– then turned around and sat in my lap!
At first I was stunned. I had never seen this kid in my life! What did he think he was doing? I had a sudden urge to pick him up and throw him– but I was sitting right in front of the pastor, who had already begun preaching. I didn’t want to create a scene, but what could I do?
So I decided to just sit there and wait for the meeting to end. As soon as it was over, I planned to get rid of that brat fast!
It was hard to focus on the sermon because all I could think of was this stupid kid on my lap. Have you ever been in a service where the preacher just went on, and on, and on, and…yeah, it was one of those sermons. I thought he’d never stop talking! I sat there feeling trapped, getting angrier by the minute.
Then at last– AT LAST!– the preaching stopped and the music started. It was time to stand and sing again.
I looked down at my lap– and saw this beautiful little boy with a smile on his face, sound asleep. And as I stared down at him, something happened deep inside me.
Have you ever taken a thick branch in your hands and tried to break it? Your hands shake as you exert pressure, then suddenly the branch snaps with a loud crack and you feel the vibration throughout your body? That’s what it felt like inside of me. Something inside me broke– and the anger and hatred was gone. Just gone. I sat there on the floor looking at him and not wanting to wake him, until the music ended and people began milling around and talking.
Eventually his parents appeared to claim him. The little boy was named Andy, and there was an immediate bond between us. His father, Ron Brackett, would take me under his wing and disciple me. He became the older brother I never had.
Andy Was Only The Beginning
Four years later, I graduated from college and started working full-time for the ministry– as a teacher! God had broken me of that hatred for children because it was His plan for me to spend the next 44 years in children’s ministry. And one of my first students was Andy. I taught him to read after his previous teacher said it was hopeless.
I became a teacher in the Christian school run by the church. I also taught and directed Sunday School, participated in evangelistic “kids crusades,” taught and directed Vacation Bible School, and led a neighborhood outreach called the “Bernie Bear Club” (my wife and I were Aunt Penny and Uncle Tim, teaching Bible stories and giving weekly altar calls). I ministered to hundreds of children over the years– and of course, none of that would have been possible if I still hated kids! But God removed that obstacle and opened up a lifetime of opportunities.
I know it’s a cliche now to say God has a plan and purpose for your life– but it’s true! I love the promise of Jeremiah 29:11, “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” The next two verses can help us when we’re not sure what those plans are: “Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart” (Jeremiah 29:12-13).
You may think, “Oh, God, I could never do something like that!” You may think you have insurmountable obstacles in your path. You may feel (as I once did), “I’m too much of a mess for God to use me.”
But you’re wrong. God specializes in messes! What He did for me He can do for you. Nothing is impossible with Him. Don’t let past sins or present struggles hold you back from what God has for you. If God has placed a dream in your heart, go after it. If you have a burden to help a certain group of people, God will give you everything you need to accomplish that.
When I was 18, I thought my life was hopeless. Fifty years later, I no longer believe that. Jesus made all the difference!
I’ve retired from children’s ministry, but God has opened up a whole new ministry for me through this blog. Jesus transformed my life, and I want others to know He can do the same for them! I’m still a work in progress, and God isn’t finished with me yet.
And guess what? God’s got more for you, too! Can I get an Amen?
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“I Sat In Darkness” http://www.livingthetransformedlife.com/i-sat-in-darkness
“The Rest of the Story” http://www.livingthetransformedlife.com/the-rest-of-the-story
“God Has PLANS For You!” http://www.livingthetransformedlife.com/god-has-plans-for-you