Red Wine and Tech Glitches

January 16, 2017

I recently met a Catholic missionary who has amazing stories of praying and witnessing signs and wonders from the Holy Spirit. He told me a story of how words of knowledge come to him from the Holy Spirit to encourage others. In Jeremiah 1:11, we are told that God sends words in the form of puzzles, riddles, or puns, to His listeners, who must discern their meaning to understand God’s message.

Once, while in a shopping mall with a friend, this missionary asked God for a word of knowledge he could use to encourage any person who might need it at that moment. Then his daughter’s name came to mind. So he told his friend “I’ve received my daughter’s name, but she lives miles away, so what is the meaning of that?” Upon some reflection, they came to the realization the word must have referred to “young mother”, for his daughter was a young mother. So he looked around for the nearest young mother he could find and spotted a young Muslim mother seated in the food court with a brood of young children. He approached her gingerly and told her she reminded him of his daughter and she smiled. Then he told her that he was part of a prayer group and asked “can I pray for you?” She smiled and accepted. So he closed his eyes and softly said a prayer out loud, asking God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit to bless her and her kids, and to take care of them. When he opened his eyes, she was in tears. He asked “what’s wrong?” worried that he might have offended her. She replied: “nothing, it’s just that my husband is out of town on business and today is my birthday, and I am alone with the children”.

Here, God made use of this willing man to console one of his sheep. This man had asked God for a word of encouragement for someone, anyone, and lo he was directed to this woman who was lonesome on her birthday, and no one would have known the suffering she was enduring alone. Through prayer, thinking, and action, he had received the name of his daughter, and was led by critical thinking to this woman, on her birthday. God’s mercy for His children knows no boundaries, and he has counted every hair on our heads.[1] He wanted to let this woman know she wasn’t alone, and that she was being looked after by her heavenly Father.

This man’s staff knows him to be a Christian missionary in his spare time. Twice the office photocopier wasn’t working for a staff member, and on those two occasions, he prayed to God in the presence of his co-workers for the photocopier to work in the name of Jesus. They looked at him at little bit sideways but lo, both times the machine started working as soon as he’d finished praying. One woman, an atheist, was moved. God’s signs and wonders are made for us to believe in Christ’s Gospel message of repentance, to turn towards Him, and our very own salvation.

Once, he and his staff went for a picnic. The sky was grey and it looked like it was about to rain. So he prayed in front of them that the clouds would disperse, in the name of Jesus. A few minutes later, the clouds parted above them except for one tiny cloud, which stayed suspended, and the sun came shining through. As Christ said, “Amen, I say to you, if you have faith the size of a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.”[2]

I recently purchased mineral oil with the intention of using it for my hair to keep it healthy, but I had not used it yet. This morning while getting ready for work, I kept getting the words “anoint your head with oil”, in Christ’s biblical sense when he told people they should do this when they fast. When I got out of the shower, I kept receiving the same words over and over again but this time more persistently. I almost felt like blessing the oil but I don’t have the authority to do so, so I didn’t. Then I thought “what will I fast from today?” Yesterday I had fasted from heat by driving to work and back in the cold without heating my car in the freezing temperature, and by not listening to the radio. Today I fasted by eating lightly in the morning, and by commuting again in the cold and without any noise, my thoughts on God.

Now, I have been putting off updating the address on my driver’s license for 2 years since I got married. It required me go into a local Ministry of Transportation office in a plaza near my office and wait in line, because there was a problem with Ministry’s online method of updating one’s license.

On my way to work today I made a spontaneous decision to finally stop into the MTO office. I figured the line would be short at the opening of business hours. But when I entered, a kind young clerk who was roughly my age greeted me at the door and informed me that there was a province-wide system outage. I would have to wait in line or return. When I asked how long it would take for the system to get back up and running, she said the last time it happened, the system was down until 4:30PM. She said it was a system from the 1990’s and as such it was not very reliable. She also said that the system had gone down three times since April. Things weren’t looking promising. It was about 9:15 at this time, and she said that at 10:30 the system would “refresh” and we would know if the system was working again.

Then I felt the strong promptings of the Holy Spirit. I was to do as my friend had done, which was to pray over inanimate objects so that they would be fixed through the Holy Spirit. “People will think I am nuts!” I thought. So I sheepishly turned around and left the office, got back into my car and left. But the drive back to my office was complicated by a bunch of left-hand turns and red lights, and eventually I had to pass by the MTO office again to get back to my office. But now I had had time to think about it, and that was all I could think about. “Well, I thought, “I have to do this. Who am I to deny the Paraclete?”

Upon returning I felt emboldened, as if on a mission. All I had needed was a bit of time alone with the Holy Spirit to arm myself with Him.

I re-entered the MTO office and the clerk recognized me. I sat down near where she was standing, a little off to the side, and we chatted. By this time she had come to like me. We had a nice conversation and we learned that I knew one of her former high school teachers, who was a coach at the rowing club where I was a competitive athlete. Then I told her I was part of prayer group and she smiled warmly at the idea. So I said to her, “you know what someone should do about this?” “What’s that?” she replied kindly. “Someone should pray that this province-wide glitch gets fixed.” And to this she smiled kindly and agreed. So I said “God, please fix this system, in the name of Jesus”, and she smiled at me, as if to condone the prayer. It was about 9:35 at this time, and I left the office. The system was to be refreshed at 10:30 and everyone would find out whether or not it was fixed. I said to myself “I will return during my lunch break to find out.

As I stepped out of the MTO office and off the plaza sidewalk into the parking lot, a car veered quickly right in front of me as it drove away, and I was forced to stop in my tracks. Its license plate had custom lettering that spelled “Kefraya”. Out of curiosity, I looked it up. Kefraya is a village in Lebanon that is known primarily for its production of red wine. As a Catholic, of course, the significance of this was clear, for it represents the precious blood of Jesus, which forgives all sins.

I went back to the MTO office at around noon to find out if system was working and to update the address on my driver’s license if it was.

When I entered, the place was buzzing with activity, and I saw the same young lady from behind the counter. She came over to me at once and told me the system started working about 10 minutes after I’d left. This was well in advance of the system-wide refresh that had been scheduled for 10:30.

After all was said and done, I left the MTO office. While making my last main turn on my way back to my office, I noticed the license plate in front of me: the letters spelled ARMD.

[1] Matthew 10:30.

[2] Matthew 17:20.

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