I believe in miracles and have for a long time. It is hard to grow up as a missionary kid and not see the hand of God at work in ways that could only be described as miraculous. Whether it was watching God provide for the financial needs of our family so that we never missed a meal or seeing the way that I was able to go to boarding school when I knew that my parents could not afford it, His fingerprints were everywhere. Somehow though, as I look back now, I realize that a part of this belief was a child like faith instilled in me before I knew any better. In someways it was easy to make the connection between a loving and caring God who would provide for my every need because I saw this modeled in my family every day as my parents demonstrated their love and care for me.
As I got older, the inevitable happened. No, not the discovery that Santa Claus was not a real person (my parents never spent a lot of time making that case), but that this basic belief was not shared by everyone else. Apparently a lot of people did not see the hand of God the way that I did and thought that many of the things that I thought were so miraculous had other explanations. Creation apparently could be explained by the Big Bang Theory combined with some version of evolution. God’s provision was really the result of creative communication and the generosity of my parent’s friends. Worst of all, some of the people in the church circles we were affiliated with began to make a strong case that all the miracles that had occurred in the Bible were for then and not for now. For a teenager with a lot of questions, this was disconcerting at best and faith shattering at worst. On top of all this, those that talked about miracles the most, especially certain TV preachers, began to be exposed for the frauds that they were.
With that in perspective, I became a young adult with more than a lot of questions about miracles and a lot of doubt to boot. At times it seemed safer to be a skeptic on the issue rather than a proponent of things that I did not understand, nor could I explain. That all changed in the summer of 1995, eight weeks after my first child, Kenny, was born. Deb and I were excited to be parents and I could not help being overjoyed that my firstborn was a boy. What we did not know was that due to his inability to feed properly, he was slowly getting dehydrated. When we took him to the doctor, we were immediately taken to the hospital and the nurse whisked him out of our arms to put him on an IV drip. Little did we know how close to death he was and that it would take two weeks for him to recover. There were many moments of fear and questioning God in those days as he could not seem to gain weight or begin to thrive. To this day, we have never received an explanation for why he began to get better or what had caused this all to take place in the first place. In both cases, we chose to attribute it to God and his mysterious ways.
The miracle in this story, however, is not just that Kenny got better. We know that God could have taken him from us and that we would have had to wrestle with what that would have meant. At the same time as we were dealing with birth of our firstborn, we were also in the process of applying to be missionaries. I had felt the tug in my life to consider this radical realignment of our careers and life circumstances before Deb. In fact, she was quite resistant and did not feel that she had any sense of “calling” to become a missionary. We knew that this impasse had to be resolved before we could be effective in serving together as would be required by the organization that we were considering working with. God used these terrifying and exhausting days in the hospital to get Deb’s attention. Shortly after Kenny was released from the hospital, Deb shared the news with me that she now knew that God had given her a specific purpose for serving with me in CLC as missionaries. From that day forward, I chose not to be a skeptic and to embrace the reality that God was still at work in our world and that His ways of working were indeed miraculous. While I do recognize that God often uses human beings to accomplish his purposes and that He orchestrates everything in our world to function by the laws of nature that He created, I also know that He enjoys confounding us in ways that have no rational explanation.
This Christmas, I am looking forward to celebrating the miracle of a Holy God who created planets and galaxies who also chose to send his own son in the form of a baby to be born so that he could die. There is no greater miracle and no better reason for me to fall down in worship to this incomprehensibly wonderful King.