miracles; the end of want and need

Some things have changed, but have they?

Many times when I read the Bible, I'm struck by how differently things went down back then. There are these crazy occurrences, like a God who speaks audibly through burning bushes, from a cloud, or through an angel. There is this Jesus pulling wine from water like rabbits from hats, and feeding thousands with a meal for two. There are His students following Him, doing the things He did and instituting widespread hope and faith. There is blindness healed, sickness relieved, and crippled legs standing, walking on water and yes- life brought back from death.

To some degree, all these miracles speak of the distant but familiar victory that we very closely identify with; weather abundance over scarcity, healing over brokenness, value over insignificance, whatever it may be- there is always this sort-of magical relationship of divine proportions; this life over death phenomenon.

I was talking with a group of ninth graders recently about faith, miracles, and the popular claim to having some sort of encounter with the Divine. And so I’m at this private school, an extremely liberal thinking, affluent school for privileged, in one of our nation’s biggest cities- and it becomes completely obvious to me, not that they can’t or won’t believe in miracles, and not that they don’t desire to believe or have a mysterious bend in them toward believing, but rather- their lives seem to leave very little room for the need of miracles.

The conveniences of modern life allow for unprecedented comfort. Presented with a problem we're offered many seemingly suitable options- And while God's intervention may be on the list, He may not necessarily be our first or even eventual choice. And so we push Him back, knowingly or unknowingly, to the distant and vague corners of need- to inevitability. Because we've already got enough help to get through these years nicely; we just need a God to take care of the death thing, later.

And before we realize it, we've made Him into a little god who offers us help, advice, maybe a miracle sale at the mall, and possibly life- but only in answer to an impending problem, later, in the future. 'Cause yeah, our lives are good now. We have what we need.

So we fall to our knees and teeter on disbelief or disillusionment when without immediate need, we delegate to him instead our wants- and He doesn't give them to us. With an appetite for gratification and getting, we search our Bibles where all the miracles seem so theatrical, so easy, and simple. And we don't understand. We hear about this God who says He'll supply all our needs, but we want him to make us feel good and avoid discomfort or pain; unable to see that our true needs penetrate far deeper than anything we could ever even imagine- let alone want or ask for.

What needs do you present to God?

What do you give Him credit for?

Is there room in your life for miracles?

Are you interested in a God who knows your needs (and your wants for that matter) before you ask?

Has your awareness of your absolute need and dependence on God been diminished by the endless options offering you cheap, aesthetic answers to deep problems, pretending to save, heal, and sustain you? Our attitudes and our appetites change, but the character of God doesn't. He is, He was, and He will always be the end to all want and need.

1 comment:

J. Mack said...

I think one of the trickiest problems we, as "the religious", have to face is the tendency to over-spiritualize or under-spiritualize our situations. By this I mean that we are placed in a country, an era, a life, that is void of many of the ultimate challenges seen by others in the third world or previous centuries. I know that if I run out of money my family will help. I know that my most devastating sacrifices have been relational or have dealt with change in my current familiars. I don't fear famine, or persecution, or violence. It's in this, though, that God displays His divine flexibility. Despite our fortunate setting, He still reaches out and still wants to save us from the passionless life the world offers. I'm yet to fully figure out how we are supposed to deal with the "problem with the good life", but it is a welcome thought that God has intended more for us than what we can see.