Sunday, April 27, 2014

A Brief Word on Miracles

I was thinking about a personal situation this week and how it relates to the topic of miracles.

I've shared before how I have become totally consumed with the task of starting and maintaining a medical clinic over the past three years.  While our patient schedule has been as full as it can be and our cost, such as salaries, is cut to the bone, we have three very close encounters with bankruptcy.  The problem has been getting paid for our services.    

In this last crisis, the worst of them all, we were near bankruptcy for three months.  I was under tremendous emotional strain during this time, working night and day to try and figure out why we weren't being paid.  I had shared with my Christian friends about the distress I was experiencing.  For example, this week, I had $20,000 in bills due.  Three weeks ago I had a neg $721 in my books.

I am now poised to complete this narrative when I see my Christian friends today.  You see, last weekend, over $20,000 suddenly came in. This is after three months where our weekly collections were 3-4 thousand dollars with bills of $6,000 per week also coming in.

So that was a simple introduction and I want to move on to a much more important topic and that is of miracles. The old Mike would, without hesitation, tell the narrative that God, working outside of natural laws, brought the money in just in the nick of time. I would even embellish the story a bit by saying I needed exactly $20,000 and exactly $20,000 came in. But that is not true and it is not that simple.  I would also cut out of the narrative all the human activities that led up to the money coming in as not to distract from the notion that this was a miracle.

We are addicted to miracles in the same way that a vulnerable person could be addicted to heroin.  It is reassuring to us and the narrative that our Christian culture demands.

In my story that I just told. We had three months of low collections and a growing debt of $20,000 that was due this week, then suddenly $20,000 came in just in the nick of time.  It does sound like a miracle.  While I verbally praised God from the moment I opened the mail box and walked back to my office, with sincerity and passion, I know in my heart of hearts that this was within the natural laws. The full narrative has the fact that my biller was working tirelessly over the previous two weeks trying to find some of the money owed us.  She found it and knew that it was on its way.

But I thought a lot as I start to encounter my Christian friends and they, who thankfully had been praying for me, ask about what happened.  Was it an answer to prayer?  Sure, I can accept that.  So, while I see it as an answer to prayer, I don't see it as a miracle.  A true miracle is where God chooses, and He rarely does, to do something completely outside of natural laws.

The reason we seek miracles, the same reason that people at the time of Jesus sought miracles.  It starts with the premise that the natural laws are other-than-God, or outside of God.  Therefore, for something to be of-God, they have to miracles.  To give credit to my biller's work, seems to take away the glory that belongs to God alone. But it was God who created my biller and it was God who created the cause and effects of human behavior.

So now, I will happily tell those who were praying for me that this problem, for now, was solved. But I will give credit where credit is due.  It would also be insulting to my biller for me to say that that the funds that came in had nothing to do with her work.

We must find comfort in the notion that God works in glorious ways through the natural laws and the rules of cause and effect through the universe, which He has made.  That these physical things, these actions of man, are indeed of significance. We must know we can think this and share these honest narratives without guilt as if we have betrayed Go.

The harm?  The harm of embellishment and miracle boasting is that at that juncture we step off the curb of reality you enter the world of smoke and mirrors and then nothing has value anymore.  As Christians me must insist that we live in reality because if God is there, and I believe that He is, then He exist within reality and not outside of it.


Virginia said...

The Hindus have teachings for each chakra, and the teaching of the 5th chakra (the throat) is "when we see that grace comes into our life through coincidences, we are filled with joy and gratitude." I thought of this upon your post. I am so thankful that the $$ arrived when it did.

Headless Unicorn Guy said...

These "seekers after miracles" as in your old church don't realize that God seems to prefer the Indirect method. They want some Direct thing they can point to (like John 3:16 written in flaming letters in the sky all over the world?) and go "SEE? SEE? SEE? I'M RIGHT! YOU'RE WRONG! SEE? SEE? SEE?"

Which is probably why God prefers the indirect method -- can you imagine how insufferable these miracle-seekers would get if they had some Direct Miracle to rub in everyone else's face?