The hardest thing about needing a miracle, I think, is the position required to receive one. It looks something like this:
I promised I would write about the signs and wonders I’ve seen during the birth of The Esther Project, but it’s important to note, I never would have seen them had I not skied off the cliff in the first place.
You could say, any plan that requires divine intervention to prevent a spectacular failure, is foolish. That’s true, unless you believe in a God who sends a murderer into Pharaoh’s court to demand the release of half a million Jewish slaves.
Moses argued with God about that. “Who me?”
I did the same when my partner at Mercy Ships kept suggesting the best way to impact a bunch of abused and abandoned girls in the worlds’ 6th poorest nation, was to bring them to the Africa Mercy.
“No way,” I said. “I’ve got no back up. It’s too wild. Too hard. Too much work. And how do I even ask for such a thing?”
Then my friend Joy reminded me of God talking back to Moses.
So the Lord said to him, “Who has made man’s mouth? Or who makes the mute, the deaf, the seeing, or the blind? Have not I, the Lord? 12 Now therefore, go, and I will be with your mouth and teach you what you shall say.”
“All right Lord, I’ll go,” I said. “Just so we’re clear though, I can’t make this happen, you have to.”
Anatomy of a Miracle – Seven Easy Steps.
Step One: Somebody, somewhere mentions the Africa Mercy recently got new mattresses, and the old ones are still stacked up in the warehouse.
And that warehouse, someone else adds, will be unused the weekend you might bring the girls down, because that happens to be Easter weekend – a fact you overlooked.
Step Two: The next day you discover, the bus you normally take to the port doesn’t run on Good Friday, so you have to come two days early, giving you enough time to say, dress up a warehouse with 50 mattresses on the floor.
Step Three: That same day, someone else mentions, in passing, the Chaplaincy department at Mercy Ships has chosen to focus this Easter season on the Old Testament Book of Esther.
And you remember, 18 months before, when you nicknamed your work with these girls, “The Esther Project,” and the hair stands up on your neck.
Step Four: Soon after, you take a deep breath and hit send on a proposal to the management team of the Africa Mercy, explaining how you plan to, from the United States, organize a beach trip and two-night slumber party on the dock, next to the ship, for 50 Malagasy teenagers, who live ten hours away, don’t speak English and have never seen the ocean.
And you apologize for how crazy that sounds.
But before you hear back, the Captain lets it fly that he’d like to invite the girls up to the Bridge. You laugh because in your three years with Mercy Ships, you’ve never been invited to visit the Bridge.
Step Five: The management team mulls it over. There is yes. There is no. You cry in the parking lot. There is yes again. A small no. Then a green light. Your friends on board pull weight for you, and you cry about that too.
Step Six: You build a Go Fund Me page to beg $2500 for transport, pizza, ice cream and other teenage girl essentials. Typically, you’d rather take a beating then ask people for money, but you do it because the Lord is setting bushes on fire everywhere, and you dare not ignore a burning bush. Right Moses?
The first donation arrives 30 minutes later from a woman you don’t know named Ruth. It is for $500. You cry again.
Less than 22 hours later, the campaign is overfunded by 10% and you’re still scheduled to take an offering at Mercy Ships. So, two days later, you do and now you’re overfunded by 90% because your colleagues want to bring heaven to earth too.
Step Seven: With some of that extra money, Tom, your partner on the Africa Mercy, suggests you buy fresh coconuts with the tops lopped off and a straw stuck in them, so the girls can sip fresh coconut water with their toes in the sand.
And you remember the first donation you received when the Esther Project weekend was still a dream – a crisp twenty, sneakily left on your bathroom counter, with a note attached that read:
“Everyone needs the beach.”
Friends listen….Jesus said follow me but he rarely led his followers to safe and manageable places. He led them into storms, fights, mobs, trials and demonic neighborhoods. He did it to make them at once fearless and hopelessly dependent on him.
I understand something now that I didn’t before about people who are humble after doing cool and selfless things to benefit other people.
It’s not them doing it.
It’s Jesus at work in them, making impossible things happen so nobody could reasonably claim credit. And Jesus does this most often when we are off the cliff and fully midair.
The Esther Project happens March 25th – March 27th, but we leave for midair Wednesday morning.