Saturday, 14 November 2009

Miraculous Signs

"...we know you are a teacher who has come from God. For no one could perform the miraculous signs you are doing if God were not with him." (John 3:1a,2)

Miraculous signs. Some people get'em, some don't. Nicodemus here tells Jesus that he knows he is from God by the miraculous signs he performs. I don't think it's clear exactly who the, "we" is in the actual quote. Some say it refers generically to the Pharisees of the ruling council, as if somehow they all knew that Jesus was from God. I don't think so, because the Pharisees obviously knew he raised Lazarus from the dead, acknowledged it as a miraculous sign, yet rather than acknowledge that Jesus was from God, wanted to kill him for it. (John 11: 38ff)

There are ministries, television or otherwise, who bill themselves as, "signs and wonders" ministries, often using the term, "...with signs and wonders following," as if a sign or a wonder would force or cause someone to believe. Frankly, and forgive me if I am out of line, but I often find this kind of claim rather pretentious, possibly having more to do with the ego of the leaders than anything else. Mind you, Jesus did perform many miraculous signs, but I think they were rather an affirmation for those who did believe than mere tricks by which to convince people to believe. Many people saw them and still did not believe. There are veils over some eyes that even the most miraculous sign cannot penetrate.

Having said all that, I do believe that many of us can look back and see miracles surrounding our own coming to faith. We may be able to see certain signs or events that God used, meant only for us, to draw us to Him. The greatest miracle, of course, is that God wass able to take a dead heart, a heart of stone, and give us a living one, one of flesh. But I know in my own case, that God used certain signs, events and circumstances that would be meaningful only to me, and that others might dismiss as mere happenstance.

Let me tell you of another case. I heard the testimony, years ago now, of a woman who had not been walking with the Lord. I don't remember many of the details of her life. It would make a wonderful story if she had been involved with a life of drugs, or prostitution, or biker gangs, or something else equally dramatic, but I don't think she was. But whatever the case, this woman told me that she came to the point where she intended to take her own life. She was in her car, driving along a highway when, at rock bottom, she pulled into a service station. She asked for the key to the washroom and went in. She did not intend to come out. It was there she was going to end everything. I don't remember whether she was going to take pills, or slash her wrists, or something else, but while she was there, looking at her miserable self in the mirror, she glanced down and saw that there were some gospel tracts on the back of the toilet. She sat down and began to read them. And there, in a dingy service station washroom, she surrendered her life to Christ. She had entered that room alive and intended to come out dead. Instead, she entered dead and came out alive.

Now, she was and is convinced that the appearance of those tracts was a miracle, and frankly, I am not one to dispute it. The skeptic might brush it off as a mere coincidence; anyone could have put them there. But in any case, someone felt called to leave some tracts in the washroom of some anonymous service station, on some anonymous highway, in the hope, no doubt, that someone might read them. And even if it was by a human hand, God led them to do that. And someone else just happened to choose that same washroom as the place to end it all. Little might that anonymous evangelist have known that they would save a life, and begin a new one.

And neither one will ever know who the other was... until they meet in glory. And what a meeting that will be!

Take Care

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