Ever since the pandemic hit, the supernatural has felt uncommon for me. Rather than sense the Spirit at work in even the most subtle of ways, these days have often felt reminiscent of Samuel’s time, where “the word of the Lord was rare in those days; there was no frequent vision” (1 Samuel 3:1). But over the last few days I feel like there’s been a bit of a shift.
I went from feeling totally de-energized Sunday night to feeling a peace that passes understanding after two friends gave me some prophetic words that seemed to all tie together nicely. One friend said that ministry right now is like a mouse stuck in milk, trying so hard to fix his situation that he actually churns the milk into butter. That’s an accurate description of what life feels like these days—treading through liquid, unaware that it’s doing anything at all. My other friend then told me that they had a word for someone else that they thought might be for me too: “God will always catch you when you fall.” To which my other friend explained that his mouse analogy came from the movie, Catch Me if You Can.
Could you rack this brief moment up as coincidence? Of course. You can call any moment coincidence or chock it up to science or psychology if you want. But the validity of the situation finds its reality in the person who hears the word. And these words spoken over me did exactly what Paul claims prophecy does in 1 Corinthians 14:3—upbuilding and encouragement and consolation.
The next morning an organization texted me to request a drop off of food to a few locals. At that moment, I had just dropped the kids off from school and I had headed home because I was drowning in work. That being said, this additional task made my start to the morning even more burdensome. But I got to it nonetheless. After I had done so, the person who had requested the drop-off made me aware of a rather humorous situation:
Jamin, I have to tell you, this a.m. first thing when I messaged you, this verse came to my mind as I was bugging you so early!, then just NOW when I read my Proverb of the day here was that verse lol !! “If you wake your friend in the early morning by shouting “Rise and shine!” It will sound to him more like a curse than a blessing.” (Proverbs 27:14 MSG)
I couldn’t help but laugh. I wasn’t sure if God was trying to give me a break in the background or if He was playing a joke of sorts on me. But either way, just to see a tangible moment of God in my day after so much recent silence was a beautiful thing. And again, you could chock this up to coincidence, but it’s validity finds itself in my ears (and experience, given how odd I found it that someone would encounter such an obscure Bible passage twice in one morning).
And then tonight, after coaching my son’s soccer practice, I picked up my phone to find the most desperate texts from an acquaintance who was in intense physical pain. I won’t go into the private details, but I gave them a call to see what I could do. I immediately felt helpless and had no idea how to make the situation better. So I did the only thing I could think of: pray right there on the phone with them as I sat in the parking lot of China City, waiting for my order to finish cooking.
As they sobbed, we determined the amount of pain they were currently in at an 8/10. I prayed for about a minute with a little more internal vigor than I usually do and heard a few noises of relief. I stopped and asked where they were at on our 10 scale. We had quickly moved to a 4. So we prayed again. As I prayed a second time, I felt a certain kind of feeling in my body I haven’t experienced in awhile and I could literally hear the headache going away in the noises the person was making on the phone. It was now down to a zero and they immediately went to bed.
You could try to call it psychology, but in the experience of this healed person, they know it was more than that—just as I could feel in our prayer time together.
Which I suppose brings me to my point. As I’ve been thinking of how some might push back on my experiences the last three days, an old verse has come to mind: “If they do not hear Moses and the Prophets, neither will they be convinced if someone should rise from the dead” (Luke 16:31).
While I realize I’m re-contextualizing this verse for my situation, there’s a connection here for me. Some want irrevocable evidence of a miracle that can be qualified beyond any doubt of coincidence, science, psychology, etc. In Jesus’ parable people asked for the same kind of thing: “Do something so amazing that people will have no choice but to believe!” What was Jesus’ response to this request? There have already been enough signs given for them to believe. If those prior signs didn’t do the trick in convincing them, then raising the dead—as crazy and miraculous and unexplainable as it is—won’t do the trick either. Kind of like when God
We often pray that God will heal people to prove to them that He’s real. I think sometimes He goes for that, but I don’t know that Jesus always did miracles simply to convince people that God was real. Actually, Jesus seemed to curve His evangelism in such a way that only those that God was drawing into the faith would hear the truths He was speaking and become followers (Mark 4:10-12). Jesus gave the good news in parable form and let God select who would be allowed to understand His words. That being said, He wasn’t always looking to do something that would make everyone easily believe. Instead, He sometimes made evangelism harder so that only the most committed and interested individuals would step up.
Yes, miracles are a part of evangelism too as plenty do get saved through the miracles they witness and experience—but a faith built on a miracle isn’t always a strong faith. What happens when the dry season comes? What happens when you’re so far removed from that initial miracle that you try to explain it away because you’re starting to question your experience? What happens when a friend or family member dies and there was no miracle to save them?
Well, if the miracles of Jesus are the foundation of your faith, then rain, flood and wind will collapse it. But if the Jesus of miracles is your faith, then your faith will remain strong even in the storm, because the foundation is perfectly firm (Matthew 7:24-27). A miracle can certainly help ground your faith, but it can’t be faith itself.
And I don’t think Jesus is looking for followers who want nothing more than a miracle. Certainly there were people in His crowds that were interested in benefiting off of Jesus, but not interested in living a life that benefitted Jesus. So perhaps our prayers for a miracle that will convince our friend to believe in Jesus is occasionally misguided. And perhaps that’s one reason why those prayer requests aren’t always answered.
To be a Christian is to have a faith that leaves space for miracles, but is stronger than miracles. And as we come out of the ductworks of a spiritually-dry pandemic, may we pursue and encounter the Spirit who bolsters what faith we already have with the signs and wonders He offers.