What exactly is a miracle anyway?

Seen recently on a sign outside a church in a nearby town…


Looking for a lifeguard? Ours walk on water


Sound like a miracle to you?


It’s trivia time – where do you find the story of Christ walking on water?


Don’t stress too much on this because the account appears in three of the four Gospels: Matthew, Mark and John.


And all three are pretty identical. The event happened right after the feeding of the five thousand, another pretty miraculous event. Jesus told his disciples to take a boat trip while he stayed on land to send some of those five thousand home. He’d join them later.


It’s interesting that all four Gospels, including Luke, include the five thousand story. But apparently Luke hitchhiked somewhere else after the big feast and missed the boat.


After a while on the water the wind began to pick up and the disciples began rowing. If you’ve ever been in a rowboat you know that rowing isn’t the easiest of chores. Throw in some wind and some choppy water and that makes it more difficult. And doing it in the dark – well, all that can be pretty scary.


Then, in all three accounts, the disciples see Jesus walking across the lake toward them.  But there was no bridge, and the lake wasn’t frozen. All three stories say the men were afraid; two versions thought it was a ghost coming toward them.


But in all three Christ says simply “it’s me, don’t be afraid.” As simple as walking down the street – simple if you’re the Almighty.


Twice in the same day – it’s a MIRACLE.


After all, could you feed 5,000 people without the benefit of a supermarket or two and a large bank account to cover your massive purchase? And even the skinniest person around would go straight down when they take that first step onto H2O.


Another story in Mark from our Sunday morning service at Grace features an interesting event…


Then Jesus left the vicinity of Tyre and went through Sidon, down to the Sea of Galilee and into the region of the Decapolis. There some people brought to him a man who was deaf and could hardly talk, and they begged Jesus to place his hand on him.


After he took him aside, away from the crowd, Jesus put his fingers into the man’s ears. Then he spit and touched the man’s tongue. He looked up to heaven and with a deep sigh said to him, “Ephphatha!” (which means “Be opened!”). At this, the man’s ears were opened, his tongue was loosened and he began to speak plainly. – Mark 7:31-35 NIV


Can your favorite ENT doctor do that? Don’t think so.


Miracles. We love to read about them in the Bible. Scholars count 37 different miracles done by Jesus, although one interpretation says we have no idea how many He REALLY did because maybe some didn’t make it into print.


And there are plenty others in the Good Book. The disciples/later Apostles did a few. Paul was converted on the road to Damascus, struck blind but then had his sight restored. The Old Testament has its share – from Lot’s wife turned into a pillar of salt (not a good one for her there) to the actions of Moses (hard to top the parting of the Red Sea,) from the walls of Jericho tumbling down to Elijah calling down the fire from the heavens, from surviving the fiery furnace in Babylon to Daniel in the lions den.


Yes, the Bible is filled with miracles. But after Revelation – what happened?


Has God gone on a sabbatical? Maybe the Lord just isn’t interested in us anymore?


Well if you’re Catholic you don’t agree with that. The Catholic Church promotes people to Saint when someone has two proven miracles attributed to them. Down the road from Grace it’s now SAINT Kateri Tekakwitha Church. The native American woman, the Lily of the Mohawks, was proclaimed a saint nearly 10 years ago after a second miracle was connected to her.


But it sure seems that the number of miracles has been slowing down lately. And of course we all look for those obvious miracles that make the news or the script of a new Hollywood movie. And we look, and we look…


Afghanistan turned out pretty well. Hmm, not really…


Climate change appears to be making a real mess.


COVID suddenly disappeared after plenty of prayers from all over the world. Except it hasn’t…


Beloved local friends have been lost recently when all seemed well. Some struggled for many years but ultimately "lost the fight."


Mental health issues, shootings, strife and violence from every direction.


Where have all the miracles gone?


Do a web search for that phrase and you’ll get a LOT of answers. Many people have been searching.


But before we proclaim that the End Times are coming, let’s think on this…


Checking history, the period from 1939 to 1942 was pretty bleak for freedom loving people everywhere. The bad guys were winning on nearly every front. And yet the good guys, with the prayers of millions and the strength of the faith behind them, turned the tide and saved the world. A miracle?


Back in 1863 things were also looking bad for the Union in its fight to overturn slavery and reunite the United States. Then slowly but surely from Gettysburg to Vicksburg, the momentum headed the other direction. Those in the right of morality triumphed. A miracle?


Go back even further, to 1776 when the dark days of the American Revolution virtually snuffed out the new ideals of liberty and self government. Those ideals were hanging by a thread with loss after loss. Then brave patriots led by George Washington flipped the script at Trenton, and slowly the effort for a new government of We The People came to fruition. The rights we all enjoy today as citizens came from something that could be called a veritable miracle.


Do more web searching and you’ll find plenty of stories of miracles, most of them medical issues. Someone came down with a mysterious illness, doctors were able to do essentially nothing to help, the odds were all on death’s side, and then….a miracle? Complete recovery that no one can explain.


What can WE do to observe more miracles?


From one website (https://believeandcreate.com/5-ways-to-participate-in-the-unfolding-of-miracles-in-your-life/) here’s a five step plan, one much needed today…


1.       Be grateful for everything. And that’s EVERYTHING. Why is this one so difficult to follow?

2.       Stop using “I don’t know what to do” as an excuse to do nothing. Reach out, find a way.

3.       Step out of your routine. If the same old same old isn’t working, time to try something new.

4.       Help others receive the miracles they’re praying for. Yes, YOU can be the miracle for someone else. Recognize the Lord tapping on your shoulder.

5.       Trust in your higher GPS. That’s your God Positioning System. Pray with your heart, not your mouth or your head.  


Forget the headlines and the movies. Miracles still happen, little ones every single day and often involving us. God’s not on a sabbatical – instead He wishes to use each of us to perform those miracles. Not one big gesture but a long list of little gestures designed to point us all in the right direction. His direction.


So - are you up to the task? Hope so. Go out and be someone’s miracle today.


From George Churchgoer