Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Modern Day Miracles

Recently I was in the Seattle airport with time to kill so I wandered through the Borders bookstore in the concourse. I usually check to see if the most recent books from my favorite authors are out in paperback—so I can go home and buy them on-line. I was happy to see C.J. Cherryh's latest book "Deliverer" available in paperback. I made a mental note to check its price online and left the store.

For the next hour and a half, I was busy using my laptop, but the thought kept intruding that I should buy Cherryh's book—now. Likely this was instant gratification talking, but could God be trying to get my attention? My boarding time was drawing near when the thought popped up again—time for action.

Often I will flip a coin with these sorts of decisions—I trust God's ability to control the spin of the coin more than my ability to determine the right thing to do. [Prov 16:13] This time I decided to make the "buy it now" option tougher than 50-50. I quickly settled on picking the last digit of pi that displayed on the engineering calculator on my laptop. Yes, I am a geek. If the last digit shown was five, I would buy the book. This was the result:

For this “coin flip” the odds were 10% that my choice would be correct—not a miracle. Most people would judge it a coincidence. However, I’m convinced that God wanted me to buy that book before I boarded—I don't know why. Perhaps to motivate me to write this post...

I was over Greenland on a flight back from Europe when I experienced another coincidence. I was reading, without headphones on, when I felt the distinct mental nudge to look up at the TV. The next thing that came on was an interview with my friend Stan Ebel on his Llama ranch. Stan lives about 15 miles from me in Colorado. I had no idea he had even done an interview. The odds of this happening seem below 10%—but again, most people would judge it a coincidence.

I wish God would do astonishing "fire from heaven" sorts of miracles today. I would love to see loaves of bread and fish multiplied to feed a crowd of thousands. Apparently, God chooses to not do big miracles today, at least not in places where they can be captured by scientific instruments, cell phone cameras, or network news crews. Why is that?

Are miracles missing because science has managed to turn everything into probabilities and processes? Quantum physics tells us that a loaf of bread in Jerusalem can spontaneously transport to the shores of the Sea of Galilee—it’s just very unlikely. Scientists invoke random processes to explain the mind-boggling successes of DNA and photosynthesis—with natural selection weeding out the failures. A tumor disappearing is not a miracle, it's just the body’s defense mechanisms finally discovering and annihilating the enemy.

Perhaps God is skipping miracles because of our unbelief. Jesus did many miracles to validate who he was, but many eyewitnesses did not believe. In some regions he did fewer miracles because of their unbelief.

Even though we don't seem to get the capital "M" miracles anymore, God still interacts with us. If we are paying attention and obedient He uses "coincidences" to show us that He is present in our lives, He is in control, and He is showing us the way. These are modern day miracles.


terri said...

I haven't seen many big M miracles. I have encountered moments of "coincidence" and nudging from God, usually to recast my vision, from His perspective.

Has science decimated miracles?

I would say the combination of scientific thinking and the uncovering of outright imposters who have promoted false miracles have certainly made believing a lot more difficult.

VanceH said...

For me the modern day miracles, the "coincidences" in my life, encourage my faith. They also frustrate me because they are so personal—but that is not to say that they need be trivial. I think God still acts with significant power today.
I think the desire to have provable miracles is one of the drives behind the evangelical world's abhorrence of evolution. Evolution removes one of the last visible miracles we used to use to justify our faith—the complexities of life.

Heidi said...

I don't find the complexities of adaptation and natural selection to be a barrier to faith, myself.

Our tendency towards pattern recognition makes synchronicity fascinating to us - but sometimes I wonder if we don't somehow affect further synchronicities through the workings of our own mind and spirit. The "authorship" of such meanings is notoriously difficult to determine, but we do seem to have a sense for - and an inclination toward - them.

VanceH said...

Yes, I have thought a lot about whether I see the patterns just because I am looking for them. It could be foolishness. It could be a wasted life seeking God, when there is no God.

For me I think it boils down to hope.

"...and hope does not put us to shame, because God's love has been poured into our hearts though the Holy Spirit who has been given to us."