Brother Ron Barnes
Founder and Pastor
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Brother Ron answers your questions about religion, spirituality and ministry
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May the Lord continue to bless and preserve you.
Let me tell you about Tess.
Tess was a precocious eight-year-old little girl. One day she heard her mom and dad talking in a serious and somber tone about her little brother, Andrew. Tess didn't understand everything that they were saying, but she got the gist: Her little brother, Andrew, was very, very sick… and they were completely out of money. They would have to move out of their house and move into a small apartment because Mom and Dad didn't have enough money for the doctor bills and the house payment. On top of that, only a very expensive surgery could save Andrew now… and they could not find anyone to lend them the money. Just then, Tess heard her dad say to her tearful mother in whispered desperation, "Only a miracle can save Andrew now."
Tess ran to her room, pulled out a glass jelly jar from its hiding place in her closet. She poured out all the change on the floor and counted it carefully. She then put the change back in the jar, put the jar under her arm, slipped out the back door and ran down to the Rexall Drug Store six blocks away. The pharmacist was talking to a man intently and at first he didn't notice Tess standing there. She waited patiently for a while and then dramatically cleared her throat, but still, no luck – the pharmacist did not see her. Finally, Tess got his attention by taking a quarter out of her jelly jar and tapping it on the glass counter. That did it. The pharmacist noticed her and said, "Just a minute. I'm talking to my brother from Chicago whom I haven't seen for ages."
"Well," said Tess, "I want to talk to you about my brother. He's really, really sick – and I want to buy a miracle. His name is Andrew and he has something growing inside his head and my daddy says only a miracle can save him now. So… how much does a miracle cost? I have the money here to pay for it. It's all that I have saved. If it isn't enough, I will get the rest. Just tell me how
much a miracle costs."
The pharmacist's brother was a well-dressed man. He stooped down and
asked Tess, "What kind of miracle does your brother need?"
"I don't know," Tess replied, with her eyes welling up. "I just know he's really sick and Mommy says he needs an operation. But my parents can't pay for it, so I want to use my money."
"How much do you have?" asked the man from Chicago.
"One dollar and eleven cents!" Tess said proudly. "It's all the money I have in the world, but I can get some more if I need to."
"Well, you are in luck," the man said with a smile. "One dollar and eleven cents is the exact price of a miracle for little brothers."
He took the money in one hand and with the other he took hold of her mitten and said, "Take me to where you live. I want to see your brother and meet your parents. Let's see if I have the kind of miracle you need."
That well-dressed man from Chicago was Dr. Carlton Armstrong who just happened to be a noted neurosurgeon. The operation was successfully completed without charge… and it wasn't long until Andrew was home again and doing well. Tess' mom and dad were so grateful. They were talking one night about the chain of events that had saved Andrew's life. "That surgery," her mom said, "was a real miracle." And then she said, "I just wonder how much it would have cost."
Tess smiled. She knew exactly how much a miracle cost… one dollar and eleven cents… plus, the skill and graciousness of a great doctor… and of course, the gracious, sacrificial love of an eight-year-old big sister!
Someone might say, "Well, it was only one dollar and eleven cents"…but, it was all she had! She gave all she had to save her little brother… and that's an extravagant gift!
Isn't that a great story? It's powerful because it reminds us in a dramatic way that the spirit of Christ can empower and enable us… to be extravagant in our generosity, to be extravagant in our gratitude, and to be extravagant in our graciousness.