All things are possible with God!
A young engineering student on a full-ride scholarship looked me in the eye as he leaned over the stainless steel table that separated us and dismissed me, “Preacher, I’m not into the ‘God thing.’ I’ve always been more of a science guy.” It was his way of saying there are only two choices in life--to follow science or believe in God. It’s a false choice of course made even more ironic by the fact that he was wearing the orange jump suit of the Houghton County Jail doing time for his third DUI.
Do you believe in miracles? Many people today do not. There is a palpable suspicion of miracles and most particularly the Biblical emphasis on miracles. The sense is that if one wants to be true to the modern scientific enterprise, the notion of miracles needs to be set aside.
Belief in miracles lies at the heart of Christian faith. Without the miracle of the Resurrection, the faith would not have endured. This foundational miracle explains why Christianity is still around.
St. Augustine pointed out in the 4th century there is no contradiction between miracles and the laws of nature. Miracles don’t violate nature, they simply go against what we currently know about nature. Since our knowledge of nature is always limited, there’s always an opening for higher laws than what can be known to mortals. His insight dispels the false either-or choice of science vs. miracles. Both can be equally respected. Everyone admits Easter was a very unusual event and yet the historical evidence that it happened couldn’t be stronger than it is. It is rational for scientists to accept the wonder of Easter.
What is the purpose of miracles in the Bible? Miracles never occur in scripture for entertainment or for financial gain. Miracles are not magic tricks performed on demand. They serve only to draw our attention away from earth and onto heaven. They underscore that there is another reality. There is more going on in this world than meets our eyes. This explains the favored word used for miracles by the authors of the New Testament: signs. Miracles are sign posts to the powerful reality of God’s rule over what only appears to us as the meandering fortunes and misfortunes of life.
Yet none of the miracles of the Bible would be remembered if it wasn’t for the central miracle at the heart of it all: Jesus rose from the dead. Some Christians have tried to find rational explanations to account for all of the miraculous phenomena in the Bible. But this is to stand the scriptures on their head and make them say precisely the opposite of what they intend. God has intervened in human affairs. Indeed to take away the miracles of the Bible is to render Christian faith forgettable.
I am a realistic person: I expect miracles! God is a God of miracles, signs and wonders. God can do far more that we can ask for or even imagine. I actually see miracles happen every week—sometimes a dramatic healing, sometimes an unexpected act of kindness. Everyday holds the possibility of a miracle. I wake up each morning anticipating with excitement what God is going to do next. In lower moments I remind myself that it is never as bad as I think it is because miracles are possible. The Bible’s miracles challenge me to think that I could be someone else’s miracle. We are in the business of offering miracles. I’m not ashamed of that. I don’t hesitate to pray for miracles and that explains why I went to the Houghton County jail. I won’t give up on anybody because miracles happen every day.
Connect! Grow! Serve!
Pastor Tom Anderson