Let Incense Arise

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My wife Rachel and I just got back from a three week trip to Asia. While we were in Hong Kong, we had a chance to visit a wonderful mentor of ours, Auntie L., who has in the past defeated cancer and is now battling the disease again. She is such an incredible and inspiring woman, so full of faith.

Leading up to our visit, I had heard the worst. That this time she was bed ridden and her spine had even collapsed from the cancer treatment. The padding between the vertebrae that supported the spine had worn away. Doctors had said she wouldn’t be able to walk again. So I didn’t know what to expect.

Her son let us into their apartment, and we sat down on their sofa. They offered us some tea and macarons while we waited for Auntie L. to come out. A few minutes later, to our surprise, there she was – walking! Walking down the hall to see us with a big grin on her face. And walking on her own, without a cane or a walker or anything to support herself. She was not going to be defined by a diagnosis or held captive by the conclusions of the flesh.

But when she sat down on the sofa, I noticed that she couldn’t move her head around. She had to wear a neck pillow to support the weight of her head when she sat.

“I have to sit right here,” she said. “At the right angle so that I can see all of you. After the treatment, I can’t move my neck or turn my head anymore.”

As we spoke, I couldn’t help but be inspired by her. I could see so much life in her, that despite her condition, her spirit was so incredibly alive. There was something radiating about her, and it was shining brighter and brighter the more she spoke about her passions for bringing the gospel to the entertainment industry and ending human trafficking in Asia.

After our chat, our friend Sherman who came along with us from Singapore, felt that he wanted to lead worship for us on behalf of Auntie L. right there in her living room. We asked if they had a piano or keyboard we could use. They didn’t, but her son brought over a guitar.

Sherman started to play on the guitar, and we started to sing songs of worship to the Lord. It was one of those beautiful moments with God where time stops and I felt like I could hear additional heavenly voices chiming in and singing along with us. Like the angels were harmonizing with us. I like to think I can sing a little bit, but definitely not that well. I felt like I was in a celestial concert hall.

As Sherman started playing the song “Worthy of It All” with the line “Day and Night, Night and Day, Let Incense Arise!” I noticed something. Auntie L. had been passionately worshipping with her eyes closed the entire time, holding on to her neck pillow to support her head. But at that point in our singing, I saw her unbutton her neck pillow and put it on the sofa. What happened next blew me away. She started moving her head up and down. Her neck was moving!  And she was able to move it on her own without any support from her hands.

Auntie L. told us that during worship, somehow her neck became stronger, and she was able to move her head up and down again. She hadn’t been able to do that the entire time since her treatment, but something about praising the Lord freed something in her! Tears started coming into all of our eyes. We couldn’t believe what we had just seen. We had witnessed a miracle right before our eyes.  What was even more amazing was that Auntie L. didn’t seem surprised at all.  This was the God she serves.  After all, she walks when doctors say she will never walk again.

When there is no earthly hope, we can hope in Jesus. When in our darkest times, we speak out praise and worship instead of complaints, God does the impossible. A pastor once said that our faith is currency in Heaven. If that is the case, my prayer is that we become so rich in that Heavenly currency that nothing – even the impossible – would ever surprise us again.


Image Credit: Flickr / Sam Javanrouh