The brink of miracles
And the devil said to Him, “If You are the Son of God, command this stone to become bread.”
But Jesus answered him, saying, “It is written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word of God.’”
Luke 4:3-4 NKJV
Have you noticed? We try to be rational about miracles. We try to expect them while also preparing for the eventuality that they might not occur – which really means, of course, that we don’t expect them at all.
But what if we did?
What if we talked, prayed, thought and acted like a miracle might actually happen? What if we believed?
What might change?
Let me tell you, even if a miracle did not happen – I am speaking as a rational creature, a frightened one – we will have lived like one was about to. And who knows? Maybe that kind of faith, that kind of commitment, that kind of daring – maybe that would be a miracle, too. But that’s just me.
But we must also address this rational, frightened creature I speak of. We must speak to it softly, gently, because the God who wept in a garden while his friends slept and while he sweated out the blood he would later spill, he understands these creatures; he even loves them.
He became like one of these creatures; experienced its birth, its life, its death.
He gets it.
He understands that the world is a fundamentally frightening place. That beneath its superficially pleasing veneer is a darkness of maw and greed and hatred and anger. That control rests in a space just beyond the tips of our fingers, and that to reach it, to finally grasp it and hold it in hand like a squirming thing, we think we need more: more money, more status, more security, more being right than being wrong.
In this kind of world? It doesn’t make sense to believe in miracles, right?
(Do we really want to be right about this?)
Do we think this way because we’re so terrified that we’ll be wrong?
Are we afraid that even if we believe hard, with every square inch we can muster, that our faith will still be disappointed?
Are we afraid that there is no God after all – or worse, that there is but that he doesn’t care, or not enough to give us miracles?
Do we see how this desire for more, always more, is rooted in this fear of lack, never enough? Do we see from which soil these two beliefs grow? The hard soil of the world – the corrupted world?
The enemy has been revealed. We don’t like to talk about him and, truly, he doesn’t deserve to be spoken of, but we need to understand his plans. In Luke 4:1-13, he tries to tempt Jesus, and in this temptation he shows us his cards: 1. The temptation that God alone isn’t enough (v3-4); 2. The temptation of power (v6-8); and 3. The temptation of fear (v9-12).
Looking at this, are our attempts to “be rational” about things not just fear-based responses to our worry that God isn’t enough, isn’t good? Is our “rationality” not just a means to try to muster all the kingdoms we see and find a measure of control over the chaotic world? Is this “rationality” not just fear run rampant, fear in its most basic sense – pride, fear for self?
If this is all true, if our enemy’s most basic desire is for us to be “rational” about faith and God and life, then the only sensible thing to do here is to believe in miracles. To perch ourselves consciously, faithfully, on the brink of miracle.
In darkness, to turn our faces to the Light.
To live in fearless expectancy.
That’s the space God inhabits.
Prayer inspiration: Psalm 124
Blessed be the Lord,
Who has not given us as prey to their teeth.
Our soul has escaped as a bird from the snare of the fowlers;
The snare is broken, and we have escaped.
Our help is in the name of the Lord,
Who made heaven and earth.