Wednesday, April 25, 2007


Two weeks or so ago, when Chrisy and I were on Spring Break, we were kidless in Arizona. When we're on our own and on vacation, we'll usually see every movie we can at whatever movie theater we happen to find ourselves. In this instance, we were in Payson, AZ, a town with one small movie house. Movie wise, we were scraping the bottom of the barrel.

We saw "THE REAPING" (yes, the one with Hilary Swank). Directed by Stephen Hopkins, this movie was a real turd. However, I've still been thinking about one aspect of the film: miracles.

Swank plays this former Christian missionary. She's an ordained minister who's lost her faith. Now she is set on disproving all things having to do with faith. She's actually a "miracle debunker" who travels to a Louisiana town that appears to be experiencing the 10 Biblical plagues!

My favorite character is Ben. Played by Idris Elba, Ben is Swank's sidekick. At one point he is asked if he has ever seen a miracle. Ben says, "Yes." He considers his gunshot wounds and the fact that he survived the inner-city a miracle. He's not lost his faith. Ben's very life is a miracle.

I truly started pondering the issue of miracles. I started thinking about my faith. A lot of people want "proof" and they want to see miracles in order to believe. I was reminded of a section from one of my favorite books, "Charlotte's Web," by E. B. White. In it, Mrs. Arable asks Dr. Dorian, "Do you understand how there could be any writing in a spider's web?" Here is his reply:

"Oh no," said Dr. Dorian, "I don't understand it. But for that matter I don't understand how a spider learned to spin a web in the first place. When the words appeared, everyone said they were a miracle. But nobody pointed out that the web itself is a miracle."

What follows is a wonderful dialogue wherein Mrs. Arable inquires, "What's miraculous about a spider's web?" And, the doctor says, "A young spider knows how to spin a web without any instructions from anybody. Don't you regard that as a miracle?"

I do. I also regard each birth of my four children as a miracle. Moreover, I consider each blooming rose in the planter next to my driveway a miracle too.

But, what this post is really about is the biggest miracle I have ever witnessed. Like Ben from that horrible movie I saw, the most amazing miracle I know about is my life.

The other day I was reading from Ezekiel and chapter 36 brought me to my knees. In it, the street preacher and prophet is actually bringing God's words to Jerusalem, but I took it as God speaking directly to me:

"Then I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you will be clean. Your filth will be washed away, and you will no longer worship idols. And I will give you a new heart with new and right desires, and I will put a new spirit in you. I will take out your stony heart of sin and give you a new, obedient heart. And I will put my Spirit in you so you will obey my laws and do whatever I command." --Ezekiel 36:25-27

Those words prove true in my life. The day I surrendered my life over to the care of God, that Spirit entered in. On September 22, 1991, the day I asked the Risen Nazarene Carpenter to live in my heart, those miraculous promises from Ezekiel became true in my life.

Now, I know, if I was reading those words, I'd be saying (especially if you know me well), "Surely, Doah, your sin was present after 9/22/91?" The answer is a resounding, "Yes!" It has been a slow process for sure; however, the progress has been undeniable.

The fact is that my "new and right desires" and God's Spirit at work within me are even more real and more dependable in my life than say . . . the red traffic lights that are stopping cars for me every time I blow through an intersection on a green light. It's that real.

Do I believe in miracles?

Yes, without a doubt.

Have I ever seen one?

Yep, many.

The most impressive miracle I ever saw is when God replaced my stony heart with this new heart.

The second just might be that He used a really mediocre movie like "THE REAPING" to get me thinking about the miracles in my life.

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Blogger Mike Pena said...

There's a silver lining in every turd!

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