I believe in miracles. I believe we are all living in God’s individual plan for our lives. We have free will yet He is always with us to inspire, protect and create divinity in our choices. Some choices we make are good for us and for others, and some choices we make are wrong and we hurt ourselves and others in our missteps. God uses our worst moments for His good; teaching us the Gospel through our lives, using our lives to teach others about His promise of forgiveness and love. This is what I believe.
His grace is what we are always searching for, confirmation of His love and devotion to us manifest in our lives. But do we always see and receive Him? His peace is always available to us but how open are we from day to day, from moment to moment to see God in the ordinary? To see Jesus in one another? We say that we believe in miracles but do our lives testify this truth?
At church, as part of our journey towards Easter we recently reflected on the Gospel of John, specifically John 9:1-41. This is the story of how Jesus gave sight to a man born blind. Jesus mixed his own spit with dirt from the ground and put the mixture on the man’s eyes, then told him to go wash. When the man washed his eyes clean he found he could suddenly see for the first time in his life. Definitely a miracle, yet the people living in community with this man who had known him their entire lives questioned whether or not it was the same blind man they had always known. These people, his neighbors, were not willing or ready to accept Jesus’ healing in his life. He became an outcast to them, an impostor of himself and the miracle a fraud because of their limited vision. Some might say his life became more complicated! The once blind man could now see, and He saw before him the Messiah, God’s love manifested in the world despite what was popular.
This powerful scripture teaches us endless lessons on following Jesus and living in faith. It is a testament to the many ways Jesus can heal our lives when we become His, when we choose Him. When we choose to trust Him with our life. We see things with new eyes like the blind man, we receive a divine clarity, we begin to see with our hearts more than our minds, and we surrender our understandings for His. He created us in His image but it is up to us to trust His love, mercy and grace at work in our lives. As followers this is our leap of faith.
This scripture also reminds us that following Jesus will be one of the most difficult and trying endeavors of our entire life. The vulnerability of body and spirit that it takes to embrace Jesus Christ and God the Father challenges everything that this world would have us believe to be the truth; that we alone control our destiny, that there is no higher power, no here after, no love that endures past the life expectancy of the human shells of flesh and bone that we inhabit. Our faith, our denial of ego for the Holy Spirit scares people, giving our lives over to God in faith tests world conformity. People may mock you and accuse you of being a lemming; following a crowd that tells you what to believe and think, yet true peace in this life, the freedom from fear and the finality of death and division are only available through Jesus Christ.
Acknowledging God’s grace at work in our lives often becomes the looking glass for which we then see the abundance of all His blessings. We are able to find gratitude for the little things, we slow down, appreciating our families and friends more and our need for fame and wealth less. Recognizing Jesus in simple triumphs. Our sight is restored, and through our hearts we find ourselves marveling in gratitude over the selflessness of a spouse or a friend, an unexpected gesture of love from a child, the beauty of a breath taking sunset or a butterfly alight on our shoulder. Life is more beautiful.
This love of Christ at work in me finds me giddy just sitting in a dark movie theatre with my husband about to watch movie on an unexpected afternoon date. Simple moments become signs of great affection. My husband and I love going to the movies together and I never want to take it for granted. I’m so thankful for this quiet time we get to spend together that takes us away from our busy schedules and the depressing daily news, allowing us to escape into art. Every movie a story, a lesson or a ride into the fantastic possibilities of the world around us. The plot themes ever universal; man vs. man, man against the world, man against himself. Will he win, will he see? Will he find a way to overcome and defeat the dark forces working against him or that which he is battling within himself? Not many movies venture very far from these timeless conflicts.
One of our favorite movies of all time is “Signs.” Whenever it comes on TV we have to stop and watch it. It was released in 2002 and was written and directed by M. Night Shyamalan starring Mel Gibson and Joaquin Phoenix. “Signs” is about a Reverend named Graham Hess who loses his faith after his wife is tragically killed, but it is also a sci-fi thriller that explores how ordinary folks like the Rev. Hess and his family respond to extraordinary circumstances. The movie was poorly reviewed and you can find critical reviews of the story line but I loved it. I find that if a story has heart I can more easily overlook other parts of the plot that may be lacking. I hope you will investigate it for yourself. Here is a quote from the character Rev. Graham Hess from one of my favorite scenes from the movie:
“People break down into two groups. When they experience something lucky, group number one sees it as more than luck, more than coincidence. They see it as a sign, evidence, that there is someone up there, watching out for them. Group number two sees it as just pure luck. Just a happy turn of chance. I’m sure the people in group number two are looking at those fourteen lights in a very suspicious way. For them, the situation is a fifty-fifty. Could be bad, could be good. But deep down, they feel that whatever happens, they’re on their own. And that fills them with fear. Yeah, there are those people. But there’s a whole lot of people in group number one. When they see those fourteen lights, they’re looking at a miracle. And deep down, they feel that whatever’s going to happen, there will be someone there to help them. And that fills them with hope. See what you have to ask yourself is what kind of person are you? Are you the kind that sees signs, that sees miracles? Or do you believe that people just get lucky? Or, look at the question this way: Is it possible that there are no coincidences?”
Which group are you in?
J. C. Beichner