Archives For Miracles

We want God to do the spectacular through us and around us. Of course we do. I can remember times when I’ve read Acts and then prayed that God would shake our little prayer meeting room, just as he shook the room the disciples were praying in.

We read about the miraculous things that God is capable of, that he’s unleashed on the world before: fire from heaven, healing, literal resurrection, stopping the sun, parting the seas, etc. etc. etc. God has done such amazing things! It’s natural to read about these things and then long for God to do these same things in our lives today.

God is still capable of these things. Why not now? Why not in our lives?

Charlton Heston Parting the Seas

It’s not wrong for us to long for God to do the miraculous. But we do miss something important when we expect God to work in spectacular ways. Here’s why.

Everything God does is miraculous. Everything he does is filled with love, is saturated in power, runs counter to our natural way of thinking, undermines the evil that stains this world, brings life out of death, shapes us in ways we could never expect or even hope for. This is as true of the fire he sent from heaven to ignite Elijah’s altar as it is of the wife who somehow finds the strength to respond patiently to a difficult husband. It’s all miraculous. It’s all grace.

Missiologist Paul Pierson says it well:

“If we constantly want God to do something spectacular, we have to ask why. While we remain open to the spectacular and the extraordinary work of God, we must not forget that the fruits of the Spirit are love, joy, peace, etc. We are called to embody those in our lives and in the life of the Church. In these days, love, joy, and peace may be the greatest miracles of all!” (The Dynamics of Christian Mission, 235).

When we are expecting the spectacular, we are setting the terms in our interaction with God. “God, I want you to act, and I want you to act like this…”

I do think it’s amazing that God once parted the sea for Moses. But that wasn’t common, even in Bible times. And when we consider that the biblical storyline covers thousands of years, the huge miraculous events recorded in the Bible are not as “common” as we might assume as we read it.

Again, this is not to say that God doesn’t act miraculously now. It’s simply a corrective to our assumptions, our expectations. We ought to be crying out to God when we’re in need. But we also ought to allow God to respond as he chooses.

Your situation may seem huge and impossible, and you may be inclined to believe that the only way God could solve your problem is by doing something spectacular and showy. But perhaps God has a better way. What if God answered your prayer by “subtly” changing your heart, rather than “spectacularly” changing your circumstances? Both are equally miraculous—surely it takes as much divine power to change a human heart as to calm a raging sea.

DN16-405TRAFFIC-MBAn odd thought-process occupied my mind as I drove into Los Angeles the other day. It started as I was inching my way along I-5, and I thought about how crazy it is that we can simply check the flow of traffic on interactive maps while we “drive” (quotation marks owing to LA traffic). Then I looked out over this mass of concrete and humanity and thought—somehow all of this data is flowing through the air, filling our atmosphere, and landing inside of our cell phones.

And then my mind blew a fuse. The entire internet is blowing in the wind. It’s invisible and everywhere. It’s in the air I breathe. As I looked out over Los Angeles, everything I could see was filled with invisible data—anything you want to know about anything. But it wasn’t just “out there.” All of this data was also passing through my brain, my heart, and my liver. It’s doing the same thing now, in my office, as I write.

In my primitive understanding, cell phone data works in the same way as sound, light, satellite television, and wifi. It all travels through the air in waves, different frequencies carrying different bits of light, sound, or data. I have a hard time getting my mind around it (I haven’t even done a Wikipedia search on the topic), but somebody knows how and why it works. In other words, there’s a perfectly clear scientific explanation for why our atmosphere is filled with Google, episodes of I Love Lucy, blog posts, radio talk shows, and who knows what else.

Radio WavesBut being able to explain it hardly makes it less miraculous. The fact that we can explain it, at least in a certain sense, only adds to the miracle. Not only did God make a brilliant world, he made us with brilliant minds that can question and explain such phenomena.

God made a world in which data can fly invisibly across continents. Our very air, the atmosphere we look through in order to see all of the objects around us, is constantly hosting light, sound, and information. And the world, from the moment God spoke it into existence, has always been capable of this. Our atmosphere has always served as a freeway for light and sound, but not until very recently in world history have human beings thought to send radio signals, phone calls, and cell phone data through the air. But God designed the world so that it could. To put it in perspective, had Abraham been a techie, he could have labored to develop the technology to text message Lot.

I know my thought process is odd, but I think the basic point is something we all experience from time to time: This world is full of wonder! We take it for granted that we can see, hear, smell, taste, and touch. And yet how miraculous is each of these senses! What incredible gifts from the Creator! How is it that God allows us to walk through this world that plays host to so many wonders—constantly surrounding us, each truly unbelievable, and yet rarely acknowledged by human beings, enlightened creatures that we are?

We see the world around us every day, but only occasionally are we given the gift of seeing the world in all God’s glory. Our necessary familiarity with life makes us numb to the miracle of it all. Light and heat pour out of the sun and saturate our world, giving it life, making it inhabitable and enjoyable. Wind sweeps through our cities, unseen but powerful in its presence. Flowers bloom, leaves fall, clouds collect, birds sing—and rarely do we give a moments’ notice.

But the more we can learn to be amazed by the world God created and thereby be amazed by God himself, the healthier we will be. So there is one good thing, at least, that came out of LA traffic. Who knows what you can find on your daily commute or anywhere else?