Commentary by Rev. Michael VandenBerg
In a devotion from his book, “Beyond Words,” Fredrick Buechner writes, “After lecturing learnedly on miracles, a great theologian was asked to give a specific example of a miracle. ‘There is only one miracle,’ he answered. ‘It is life.’”
“Have you wept at anything during the past year? Has your heart beat faster at the sight of young beauty? Have you thought seriously about the fact that someday, you are going to die? More often than not, do you really listen when people are speaking to you instead of just waiting for your turn to speak? Is there anybody you know in whose place, if one of you had to suffer great pain, you would volunteer yourself? If your answer to all or most of these questions is no, the chances are that you’re dead.”
Psalm 77 says, “11 I will remember the deeds of the Lord; yes, I will remember your miracles of long ago. 12 I will consider all your works and meditate on all your mighty deeds.”
We all hope for miracles from time to time, but often we don’t see them. It is not that they do not exist or are not happening all around us, it is that we have an inadequate understanding of what a miracle is or we just fail to look in the right places. As Buechner says, the one underlying miracle is life itself. With thousands if not millions of years of life, the miracle we somehow fail to notice raises the questions, “How did we get here, where are we going and what is this thing called life all about?”
We are a peculiar people. When things are going well, we believe we are in control and life is all about us. When things take a turn for the worst, we cry out to a God we largely ignore and ask for a miracle. We must be reminded that God is not a divine Santa Claus or a genie ready to grant our every wish. He is there to bring us into a life and relationship that has eternal consequences and wants us to know that as important as this life is, it is not the end.
At times I have people ask, “How I can believe in a God that does not save everyone?” The implication is that this kind of a God cannot be loving, caring or in control. The miracle as I see it is that God has chosen to save us at all. This kind, loving and just God is always in control, but chooses to limit what he will do by extending us free will.
How will you choose? Will you seek God’s perfection, or will you seek to have your own way? As the Old Testament leader Joshua proclaimed, “As for me and my house, we will choose the Lord.” This is my choice, a miracle for sure, and I hope it will be yours.