We pray for miracles, especially this time of year as we remember the miracle of our Lord and Savior’s birth, life, death and resurrection. I’m going to tell you a story of an answered prayer, although it was not recognized until many years later.
Amy Carmichael was born in Ireland in 1867. As a little girl with brown eyes, she desperately wanted blue ones. Her parents had told her that God answered prayer, and so one night as she was preparing for bed, she got on her knees and she asked God to change her eyes so that they would be blue. Her mother tucked her in as usual, and Amy could hardly wait for morning so that she could see her beautiful new blue eyes. As she awoke that next morning, her first thought was of blue eyes. She jumped out of bed and ran to a mirror in hopeful anticipation. There, looking back at her, were her own two brown eyes. Disappointment and hurt that God had not answered her prayer caused her to run to her mother in tears. I often consider the mother’s wise answer as she explained, “Amy, God always answers prayer. But sometimes He says no.”
Amy grew up with a heart of God’s love and compassion for India. She went as a missionary, acquired property and started an orphanage. One of the many disturbing things to her in that land of much suffering were the children, mostly girls, that were forced to live as temple prostitutes, and her seemingly inability to do anything about it. As a white woman, she was not allowed inside. After much prayer, she had an idea. She would disguise herself as a native. With the help of one of her Indian friends, she bathed her skin in the strong coffee of the land, and sure enough, it dyed her skin brown. Being darker in color and dressed in the attire of the Indian women, she walked right into a temple. With the Holy Spirit guiding her, she led her first young girl out of that temple and into the love and freedom of her compound. After that, many young girls found their way to Amy, some on their own, and others that she rescued. They were all drawn to her love, and Amy became known as Amma, Mother.
It was while Amy was preparing for another temple rescue that she became aware of how God had truly answered her prayer from so many years past. As her friend was helping her with her coffee bath, she mentioned how lucky Amy was that she had brown eyes. “Amma, if your eyes were blue like other whites, you would never be able to enter the temple, for they would know you didn’t belong even if your skin was brown.”
Amy’s heart was full of thanksgiving for God’s wisdom and foresight in saying no to her request, and for preparing her to be a part of the miracles that He wanted to do in the land of India for so many.
God is always faithful and is looking for us to be faithful to Him in return. When we are faithful and obedient to His Word, when we keep His commandment to believe in the name of Jesus Christ, to love one another, and to do what is pleasing in His sight, then we can ask for anything according to His will and we will receive it. (1 John 3:22-23). It may not look like we want it to, but He is all-knowing and can see the things ahead that we can not see, therefore we must have faith in Him even when He says “no.”
Our little two year old grand-niece was being reprimanded by her parents for telling them “no.” She replied in tears, “But I love no!” I couldn’t help but chuckle when I heard this, for that is such a good picture of how most of us feel even if we don’t express it out loud. We want our own way, and in our fleshly nature, we want God to do our will instead of the other way around.
Amy didn’t allow her disappointment in God’s answer to turn her heart from Him. Instead she chose to trust Him and to serve Him in faithfulness. She lived and worked in India for over 55 years without a furlough! She was able to do this because her first priority was worship of God, and her second was service to Him. Amy chose to say “no” to herself and “yes” to God. He answered her prayers. She witnessed miracles, for her faithfulness allowed the Holy Spirit to fill her and to use her in mighty ways.
So many of us need God to answer our prayers. We need miracles of various kinds. God is faithful and will do His part. Possibly we need to examine our hearts. Do we “love no?” I pray that this story will encourage each of us to live in faithfulness; in “yes” to Him even if it involves suffering, just as Jesus said yes to the Father’s will and chose to obediently give His life to save ours. I pray that we will draw near to God and make worship of Him the number one priority in every area of our lives, casting away all of our presumptions and assumptions that deafen us to the Holy Spirit’s voice and that would hinder us from realizing God’s answers.
May this truly become a season of miracles for you.
“And whatever we ask, we will receive from Him, because we keep His commandments and do the things that are pleasing in His sight. And this is His commandment: that we should believe on the name of His Son Jesus Christ and love one another as He commanded us. Now the one who keeps His commandments remains in Him, and He in him. And by this we know that He remains in us, through the Spirit whom He has given us.” 1 John 3:22-24, MEV.