May 152005

Miracles, in the sense of phenomena we cannot explain, surround us on every hand: life itself is the miracle of miracles. –George Bernard Shaw

From time to time, like most people, I think about “miracles.” This was most recently triggered while channel surfing when I came across Pat Robertson’s 700 Club. Not too unusually, they ran an ad promoting some book Robertson has written about how to receive miracles from God. Over the years, I’ve noticed that most of the televangelists come out with a couple of books promising to teach you how to “receive” miracles.

I think, in our selfish nature, we’ve come to misunderstand God’s miracles. I heard a story on NPR about how Monarch Butterflies navigate. Monarch’s travel nearly one thousands miles from Canada to Mexico. Researchers found part of the Monarch’s eyes and brain are wired to see ultraviolet light, so they can travel even on cloudy days without queues from the position of the sun. You see, I think that is a miracle. People usually consider walking on water or in thin air a miracle. But I think the real miracle is not to walk either on water or in thin air, but to walk on the earth.

C. S. Lewis said, “Miracles are a retelling in small letters of the very same story which is written across the whole world in letters too large for some of us to see.” Its the very tiny size, tiny brain, and delicate makeup of the Monarch, yet its ability to migrate a thousand miles that is the miracle. Think about the birth of a bady…the making of a life. Two tiny cells that look nothing like their final form join and begin to divide, and then the dividing cells begin to specialize and turn into the thousands of different kinds of cells it takes to make up a human (or an animal). So whether you believe in miracles or not, we still are. Each of us is an absolute astonishment.

Despite all our knowledge, we have still been unable to find that unifying theory to explain how the universe is held together. How big is the universe? How can we even imagine infinity?  I don’t even begin to believe that creationism (or intelligent design) is a valid scientific theory. I believe the universe probably did evolve from some incredible cataclysmic event. But its a miraculous journey from the big bang to here. The great miracle is the Universe, and the laws that hold it all together, yet sometimes it condescends to manifest its miraculous nature in the smallest of things. George Bernard Shaw said, “Miracles, in the sense of phenomena we cannot explain, surround us on every hand: life itself is the miracle of miracles.” I think it required a divine hand to start things rolling, and to tie it all together.

It seems we’ve come to believe we need some grand plan to gain the favor of God so he will grant us miracles. So many of these extreme religious zealots thrive on giving us the divine secrets that will get our needs and wants answered by God via some miracle (while taking our money). Our bills will vanish, our health will improve, we’ll win the lottery…But I don’t believe that’s what miracles are all about. Frederick Buechner explains our desire this way, “It is not the objective proof of God’s existence that we want but the experience of God’s presence. That is the miracle we are really after, and that is also, I think, the miracle that we really get.”

We don’t find miracles in the chapters of a book by some preacher, but in life as we live it every day. When we learn to see those little every day miracles, we find the miracles we need…the miracles of love, family, friends, nature. Albert Einstein, a man with the incredible gift of being able to see the universe in an atom, said this about life and miracles, “There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle.”

We must learn we should not only expect to receive miracles, but that we can deliver miracles to others. It’s not about walking on water, its about life being better for those around us. Those are the miracles we should look for and help others create for themselves. Willa Cather writes in the 1927 book, Death Comes For The Archbishop, “The miracles of the church seem to me to rest not so much upon faces or voices or healing power coming suddenly near to us from afar off, but upon our perceptions being made finer, so that for a moment our eyes can see and our ears can hear what is there about us always.”

So the next time you are channel surfing, and see a solicitation from one of the televangelists to get his free book (for a small contribution) to help you “receive your miracle,” remember, your greatest miracle is you, and what you decide to do with that.

The Challenge: Here is my challenge to you for the day. Go and find one thing, large or small, that you consider a miracle. Write a brief note to yourself (share it here is you wish), and explain why you see it as a miracle.

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