Well once again, it’s time for this-email-sparked-my-newest-blog-post with Ethan! I got this email last night as I was going to bed and as I was replying, decided that this should definitely be a blog post because I know Josiah (the guy who emailed me) and I aren’t the first to have these questions. I hope it helps. Enjoy!
Hey man. Dude I gotta say, I love your writing. Been a huge blessing reading it. I read Leaving Weather and had a good moment with God after. You voiced a lot of thoughts I was having, it was awesome to see someone else saying it. Yeah I’d say I’m the Enneagram 4 type. I’m 19 and finished my DTS a month ago. You’re ahead of me by a few years and I’d say I look up to you. I have one question. It’s simple but I’m asking because you seem like a honest guy, and I trust your response. Have you seen any miracles, like for real?
Thanks so much for reading and for taking the time to reach out! That means a lot. Where was your DTS?
To answer your question, I’d say two things: 1) We need to define what we mean when we say ‘miracles’ and 2) Yes.
I think when most people use the word, they are referring to what the Bible calls ‘signs and wonders,’ or things used by God to show people who He is. Things like healings, demon possession, nature miracles like water into wine, etc. are what I’m guessing you’re referring to when you ask that, and my answer to those things is…yes.
But what’s more important is the kind of miracle which is not ‘significant’ nor is it very ‘wondrous.’ Things like my parents staying together and being awesome. Or how about the fact that we get to fly through space on a world lousy with sunsets, lasagna and road trips? That may sound basic, like the colloquialism “life is just a miracle” sung by bored, chipper housewives or knitted into your grandma’s quilt, but I think that if we read the Bible we should come to see pretty quickly that the entire universe is rich with the fingerprints of God; His presence and glory. What are the first two chapters about? He’s making trees and bushes and flamingoes, so if we dare say that those things are not miraculous (and by extension, that they don’t bear a direct compass hand pointing to their Maker) then we almost seem to give Him the middle finger.
What I’m trying to say is, when we draw a line between something being ‘miraculous’ and ‘not miraculous,’ we set ourselves up for disappointment much of the time.
I had a friend in college who always carried a little brown notebook in his pocket. On the cover, in small handwriting, it just said ‘Glimpses,’ and he recorded the small ways he saw God appear throughout the day. I flipped though it once and most of them made no sense to me. They were things like, “the sun in the leaves by Wicker,” or, “that sidewalk spot outside work.”
They were utterly insignificant things, but they were placed and times where for whatever reason, He felt God was grabbing hold of his attention, even just for a moment.
When I was in YWAM, and for several years after, I was what I call a ‘miracle hunter.’ I was so hung up on seeing big miraculous things that I would be really disappointed when they didn’t happen. I was more into the miracles themselves than I was the One—in theory—performing the miracle. It’s kind of a volatile recipe there.
Do I think I’ve seen genuine healings, demonic liberations, and other dramatic miracles? Yes. The first was in Thailand when a man severely crippled by a legion of demons was freed after ten minutes of prayer.
The real question, which I’m guessing you’re really after though, is: Did it cure my faith once and for all? Have I believed perfectly since seeing a manifest episode of God acting within creation?
Far from it.
Jesus said ‘blessed are they who have not seen and still believe,’ and it’s so true. I was someone who had to see in order to believe, yet even AFTER I saw, I struggled with believing!
Think of the Israelites after leaving Egypt: they had just seen some of the most intense displays of God’s power ever witnessed by human eyes (plus there’s still a huge pillar of smoke and fire near them), yet they quickly FORGET those things and start to doubt. Hundreds of thousands of them.
Miracles don’t cure your doubt.
Miracles are no shortcut to faith.
By definition, faith is trusting in something you cannot see. And that’s why I’ve saved the most important miracle for last: Salvation.
All other miracles fade away but only one is eternal. Suppose you saw someone’s severed leg grow back. Fifty years from now, that same leg will be decomposing in a coffin six feet under. Or God cured someone of cancer. Cool, but seventeen years later they get hit by a bus and die. The miracle was cool but it was basically just an extension of this life for a few short years.
All miracles are temporary, save the one that extends their life forever. Introduce someone to the Author of human existence and you’ll witness a miracle which has more longevity and joy in it than anything else you could experience. Plus, you reap the peripheral benefits as well. You get to see their slow progression over time and walk with them as their faith develops and they move from ‘milk to meat’ as Hebrews says.
Another thing to note is that almost every sign and wonder miracle is meant for the purpose of leading to the Big Miracle (salvation).
Suppose someone’s back gets healed. How much more likely are they to listen to the Gospel about Jesus Christ and put their faith in Him at that point? Miracles are not ends in themselves; they are meant to lead people to Jesus.
The Spirit may have temporarily healed their body, but it’s for the purpose of having Christ heal everything else indefinitely. Miracles are fun and exciting, and we have a right to rejoice when we see them, but they’re not eternal. One thing is.
I know that’s probably not at all what you were asking for, but there’s my very long winded response!
Halfway through, I realized that you’re probably not the only person wondering about miracles so I’ll probably end up blowing this up into a full blog post. Let me know what you think though, and I hope it helps!
As always I am blessed by your perception and care for others!! I am going to forward this to my small group BECAUSE we have been studying Moses and as you said “even tho the Israelites saw miraculous things”, they doubted. This will add a bit of “:meat” to our study!! :>)
Thank You Ethan — God bless you in a special way!! — and I still miss you!! g