I am very suspicious of many anecdotal tales of miracles. I believe in the modern day manifestation of miracles. I have seen miracles with my own eyes and I have been a participator in some cases. HOWEVER, I do not believe that the cause of Jesus and His kingdom is helped by inflated, inaccurate, sketchy, “show time,” and overtly fraudulent claims to the miraculous. If anyone cares, I can personally connect you with the individual involved in the following true story of a miracle of radical grace, who can verify it.
Here’s the account:
A young man I work with (a nominal believer/new convert) came in this morning excitedly telling of his adventures over the past weekend:
I was at a drug use party when a girl passed out. I rushed to help her. We laid her on the ground. We all just stood there doing nothing, so I started CPR. It wasn’t working, she still was not breathing. We all thought that if we call 911/the cops, we are all screwed. I am on probation and another guy there is on the run. But if she dies, we are majorly screwed. So, I laid hands on her and started to pray: “Jesus, you made human bodies and you know how to fix them. This girl is all messed up right now and my CPR is not helping.” Then I yelled at the others: “Do something! Pray for her, she is dying!” Then I said: ” Jesus, you can make her better right now, please in Jesus’ name.” Just as I said, in Jesus’ name,” a sparkle came into her eye and she sat up. We helped her to the couch so she could rest. Then we went into the kitchen to smoke more dope. I told those guys: “Do you realize what just happened? I just saved her life, but it wasn’t me, Jesus did it! My CPR wasn’t working, so I prayed and as soon as I laid hands on her and said, In Jesus name, she came back to life. She is alive right now because of Jesus.”
What can we learn from this true story? A couple of things for sure.
The depth and reach of God’s grace is deeper than we can fathom. Even those of us who think we have a grasp on that depth are probably selling it short. This is especially true when it comes to the manifestation of supernatural power, miracles, and the like. We nominally believe we are saved by grace, but everything else we have to earn. I have even heard supposedly mature, learned, and famous “leaders” overtly teach the same: “We are saved by grace, but after that, it is all up to us and our decisions.” Well, I don’t think so, and frankly cannot imagine living as a Christian if that was the case
Could it be that if we are in an atmosphere of a lack of the manifestation of supernatural power and miracles, one contributing factor might be the absence of child-like faith, over-complicating things, and not understanding the grace of God? This testimony reminds me so much of the Corinthian church: a complete behavioral and moral wreck, yet flowing in supernatural power.
The goal is not ‘either-or’ (character or power). It is ‘both and.’ However, if we think our development in character is the ticket price to access His power and miracles, we will be unlikely to see many. Should we see some genuine miracles, we would be very prone, perhaps inevitably prone, to think it is because of our holiness. In other words, we merited it–His miracle power is our reward for being good little boys and girls. This reminds me of how an animal is trained: rewarded with a snack for good behavior. We are not animals being conditioned in a cosmic circus. We are beloved sons and daughters.
I am not endorsing this young convert’s choices or lifestyle behaviors. I am endorsing a radical grace of God that is free to manifest in miracles and supernatural power to those who we think don’t deserve it, or shouldn’t receive it, those whom we would “disapprove of” in lifestyle choices. I believe in just such a radical grace God that He might be more likely to manifest to the “least” than to those who think they are somehow entitled to it.
Our God is more gracious, more long suffering, more patient (especially with new converts–I know from my personal experience as a new convert!) than we can possibly imagine. As we mature we can sometimes forget his long-suffering toward us in our youth. If we would have but a little faith . . . if the rocks and trees could cry out . . . can God get glory from those whose behaviors we don’t approve of? Yes He can. Yes, He does.
What God does out of exceptional redemptive goodness, does not negate His norms, and it should not be standardized nor used as an excuse: “nothing matters, live like you want, and you can have power.” No. That is the opposite ditch on the highway of kingdom life from thinking that God is withholding something from us until we achieve some status of maturity and holiness. Both are ditches to be avoided. We have to be content with “grace is,” without trying to over-analyze, manage, and commoditize it. Let God be God.
After all, isn’t the common understanding of grace “God’s unmerited favor upon those who don’t deserve it?” Well, I believe that extends to miracles and supernatural power. Perhaps we would experience more if we understood, and lived in, the grace we say we believe.
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