While living on earth Jesus performed many, many miracles. This has long been the focus of controversy by people wanting to see each reproduced today — and they all have been. But still, people doubt. Then Jesus topped all of them in this triumphant defeat over death! Talk about the miracle to top all others! In the context of that mighty miracle, I was struck with this quote by Timothy Keller, a Presbyterian pastor in NYC.
“We modern people think of miracles as the suspension of the natural order, but Jesus meant them to be the restoration of the natural order. The Bible tells us that God did not originally make the world to have disease, hunger, and death in it. Jesus has come to redeem where it is wrong and heal the world where it is broken. His miracles are not just proofs that he has power but also wonderful foretastes of what he is going to do with that power. Jesus’ miracles are not just a challenge to our minds, but a promise to our hearts, that the world we all want is coming…a world of peace and justice, without death, disease, or conflict.” (The Reason for God: Belief in an Age of Skepticism)
Isn’t that a great quote?
Jesus came to change the world order and restore it back to what God had intended in the first place. Miracles do not suspend the natural order, but establish it. And with the resurrection, Jesus began a new beginning for all people, we could begin to live from a new place, a new Spirit, and walk on a new foundation.
As we march forward during this season of quarantine, what in your life has risen to the surface that needs to be “restored to a better way?” The fact is that such a change in life as we are currently experiencing tends to expose what is most raw within us. For some, you might have settled into the idea of confinement easily, but for others, it might not have come so easily. So, either way, what is God wanting to adjust and shift within your heart in this season? Where is Jesus seeking to bring your humanity back into being lined up with this own?
That’s the goal, right? To be more like Jesus, and if more like Him then more human, not less human. The epitome of humanity is not seen in sin but in righteousness, it is not in becoming “unlike Jesus” but becoming like Him. So often the human response to sinfulness, to errors in judgment, to a lack of love is the excuse, “Well, I’m only human.” When actually, our humanity is best expressed when it is exemplified by the fruit of God’s Spirit through that life. It is when love, joy, peace, patience, etc. are showing forth that our truest humanity is made known.
I think my favorite line from Keller’s quote is the line that “Jesus’ miracles are not just a challenge to our minds, but a promise to our hearts…” The miracle accounts are all promises to our hearts. I love that assurance. What a way to view them. There’s a better world coming, and we are all going to be a part of that even as we walk in this world now.
That’s great, but when in the middle of the darkness of the world today, it can be of little comfort. Then, what we need is to open up to what Jesus is saying to us in this day — we can listen and journal what God speaks to our hearts, we can read the scriptures and look for a message or phrase that stands out. We can pray and just open up to the possibility of God bringing an answer in some unexpected way. We can listen to music and see what line of the song stands out to our hearts. It is important to just listen. God is always speaking, we are just not always listening. And a little light from God goes a long ways — like lighting a single candle in a black room. Eventually the light will penetrate the darkness.
I’m writing this on “Easter Monday” — the Monday following Easter Sunday. Last night was an incredibly challenging evening. There were all kinds of relationship stresses for Karen, my wife, and I — possibly due to exhaustion and possibly due to the quarantine and other factors. Have you ever said something and wish you hadn’t? It was one of those nights for me, for certain. Karen and I ended up in a very long, convoluted conversation and eventually found our way back to the ground. You know the feeling — tension, exhaustion, emotion, stress, and misunderstanding all can make horrible bedfellows in a conversation! Both of us were careful during the conversation, we didn’t want to say something in frustration that we would regret this morning.
Then this morning, it was light out and beautiful, and the air had cleared between us. But more than that, when I opened my journal it fell open to a page where I had written, “God was there,” a reminder that God is in the middle of every place of darkness. Reading further in that day’s thoughts, the invitation was there to “Remember to forgive yourself,” alongside receiving forgiveness from God. So, right there, as my journal fell open, God was speaking to me. He was reminding me, “Look for Me in everything.”
In this season: Keep looking for God, and remember the promise to your own heart that God is working and has worked to bring a new world into being. This new world begins now, it begins every time I forgive, I love, I listen, I pray. God is on the move. Trust this. God is there with you. In His life on earth Jesus demonstrated this again and again. Believe it. No matter what the true source of this whole virus and lockdown, here is the truth: none of it surprised God, and God is in it to lead us closer to Himself. And God will show up in this, in surprising ways.