Although I, personally, feel that I have experienced many miracles in my long lifetime, several aspects of this first one, more than probably, put down the foundation for my faith. When I was 9 years old, and after receiving a consent from the “owner,” I brought home a 7-week-old puppy and asked my dad if we could keep him. He was the person to ask and a strict guy in many ways. He had a moment of tenderness and agreed to let me. Of course, his condition was that I was the one who would care for him, in every way. Of course, I said yes. As most of us family members know, shortly after, this really fell to my mom, except for sharing the walks, demonstrations of affection, and so on.
One year later, the animal, now very much a part of my life and that of the family, developed some digestive problem. In fact, it was not eating at all. A brother and I took it to a nearby veterinarian, who held him on the table (not too big a dog) and began to check out his body. He discovered a blockage in his intestines and informed us that it would be $35 to operate and remove this.
Of course, in hindsight, what an exam and what a small cost. However, at the time, the early 50s, it was very different. We were dealing with the fact that this was a significant amount of money for our family budget but also with a father who, although he came from northern Michigan and a world of hunting dogs, did not believe that they were entitled to any extra expense. He flatly refused to finance the operation.
At first I was desperate and then, shortly after, decided to take this matter to God. At 10-years-old, I began to make frequent trips to our church on the corner. When I think back, I can’t imagine that many days passed. After all, the dog was drinking but not eating at all and was becoming weak. It seemed a long time to me. I especially remember my sister telling me to give it up, that our dad was not going to change his mind. I persisted.
The miracle part that I wish to describe is that one day I went into the church, knelt down and began to pray and, suddenly, I knew that this dog would live. It was an overwhelming sense of certainty. I returned home with this insight and was now peaceful.
The next morning, another brother, still stretched out on an open hide-a-bed in the dining room (small home for a large family) was told that he had received some mail. This was a very young high-school guy with nothing other than a paper route. He took it, opened it and from his horizontal position, called out, “OK Al, Duke can have his surgery. I just received a $35 refund from the IRS.”
Now to describe another aspect of the spiritual insight gained in this whole experience. On the one hand, now no surprise, on the other, that God had used this means to bring the miracle about was dumbfounding. First of all, I never thought for a minute that this brother even knew my problem and deep concern. He seemed to me the guy who was always “out the door.” I was his baby sister and, when he was around, he was teasing me or giving me a hard time in one way or another.
I had become convinced that God answers prayer. The next revelation was about how! It was the beginning of my learning not to judge, draw conclusions about others, in any way. He made me realize that this person, previously so bothersome to me, was the one who really cared and was willing to give up this huge amount of money for this animal he never seemed to notice. Duke, subsequently, had a peach stone removed from his intestines, and lived another 10 years. He had been very instrumental in my beginning to learn that not only does God answer persistent prayer but, along the way, He will show you many things about his creation that you never suspected.