As I prepared to take a shower this morning, I was listening to a presentation on ‘ Life Lessons ‘ a recording from Jim Rohn. He was speaking about the measure of one’s life.
“Life is not about the length of time but the collection of experiences”
He went on to say,
“..not just the collection of any experience but the variety of experiences with magnitude frequency. ..A man can die in his 40’s and still could have lived many lifetimes”.
This made me think about the how we can understand the quality of living life. Certainly, jumping from a plane, skiing down a steep powdered slope, climbing a rocky wall of a very tall cliff are vastly different than wasting hours in front of a television set or spending a life as a recluse, removed from family and friends. It is not that mundane experiences rob the quality of life. In fact, these are just a small part of the variety of experiences that life has to offer. However, if that is where the boundary of one’s life remains, it would not add to the quality of living. So the takeaway here is to not dismiss something we have never experienced, but consider every different event as a new color which makes life more vibrant. As I considered this topic, I thought about a discussion I once had with some friends in church. We were talking about “Miracles” and the question came up on how would we define a Miracle.
When Miracles are ever discussed, there seems to be no better example than by referencing the Bible. There is little doubt that when our Lord raised Lazarus from the dead people would call it a miracle. But what about today? We hear remarkable personal stories of people facing a life-threatening disease restored to health, a business loss that opened up a new path toward riches, a childless spouse that was able to conceive or a having a flat tire on an unsafe roadside which was helped by the kindness of an unexpected stranger. Don’t these also constitute the label of a miracle as well?
At first blush, we almost consider any miracle as a supernatural event. We embrace that supernatural is ‘beyond what is considered natural, or naturally occurring in the physical world’. But maybe it is not as exclusive and separate from natural occurrence as we tend to believe. It seems important that we really grasp what we clearly determined to be a miracle.
If we consider what is revealed to us through the Bible in scripture, Christ performed many miracles. Even Josephus, the Greek historian of the time wrote about this Christ who was a man well known to many as he performed countless miracles. But let us consider some of these acts that Christ was known to perform.
Let us look at the first public Miracle, where Christ turned water into wine. If we believe that it was supernatural, as having the exclusion from what was natural, then it becomes difficult to really qualify. Think about it. Jars were filled with water then from the jars, they instantly poured out wine which filled the banquet cups. If we take a very dissected view of this event, it would be that the volume of water was changed in molecular makeup. As a scientist would compare a sample of water to the complex structure of an aged wine, we would conclude it was a miracle. Yes, the time to make such a wine that even the wine taster regarded as the highest quality implies the necessary time required to age the wine was somehow compressed in a short duration. But we must not forget the materials of such a profound action. There were jars, there was a volume of water equivalent to the volume of wine transformed and cups which brought the aged drink to the lips of the guests. Were these not also a part of this miracle. Were these not a natural aspect of the supernatural?
Let’s consider the feeding of five thousand with five loaves and two fish. The young boy donated his meal which was blessed by Christ and then broken into small pieces to disperse to a hungry crowd that gave Christ audience. After everyone finished eating to their satisfaction, the scraps of food were collected and found to be over 12 baskets of leftover food. A miracle? Yes, it was. But not just the incredible volume of food that originated from such a small donated meal. Every bite of food was a miracle. The donated fish and loaves were a miracle. The faith of a child was a miracle. The joyful gathering of remaining food was a miracle. Every part of this event was a miracle and brought praise to God from all who were there.
Now let us move to another story from the scriptures in order to bring more focus to this topic. Remember the pool at Bethesda? Many diseased, lame, blind and paralyzed people gathered at this pool. They believed that angels would stir the water at infrequent times and the first one to descend into the water would be healed of their illness.
The story tells of Jesus saw a lame man who was alone near the pool had difficulty getting into the water first after the waters were stirred. Jesus was moved with compassion and approached the man and asked, “Why are you here?”. The man answered, “Sir, each time the angels stir the water I have no one to help me into the pool first”. Jesus then asked,”would you want to be healed?”. The man said “yes” and Christ said, “Your faith has made you whole, take up your bed and walk”. That is exactly what the man did. He picked up his bed and walked. A miracle? Yes. A lame man walked after his encounter with Christ. Christ said, “Your faith has made you whole…”. What was the miracle? All of it. The water, the stirring of the water, and the faith of a lame man. I learned some years ago that this same pool was excavated by an archaeologist. They found that this pool had a crack in its base where an underground spring caused the water to stir. Does this information change the miracle? It was a natural event that stirred the waters and not the stirring of angels. Did Christ condemn the belief in angels stirring the water or the belief that the first one to descend the waters would be healed? No. But he did ask a direct question, “would you like to be healed?” and followed it by, “Your faith has made you whole..”.
I bring this particular story to make a point more clear. Just because we can not explain an event in natural ways at the time, it does not take away from the miracle. Natural events are often a part of the miracle, a significant part. They are not separate parts but connected intimately to the very miracle itself.
I would offer that a miracle can be supernatural, but not by breaking away from what is natural. In fact, I tend to believe that the supernatural miracle is likely still a natural activity; it is just not understood and grasped by the limitations we place on natural laws. If we understood all the laws whereby Christ healed the sick, it would not pale as a miracle. It remains a miracle when we consider the background of the event as less miraculous, or a common phenomenon based on our present understanding.
The factors that promote an event to a miracle brings a background of what is natural into the scene. Water is not routinely changed to wine, lame people do not naturally walk. But the deviation of what is considered natural (or normal), the scope of the event (intensity) and the frequency ( rarity) earn the miracle its rank of importance, and therefore its label. if we really apply these factors to our stages of everyday events, we are forced to concede that we are surrounded by miracles and the supernatural. It may be a kind word at the right time, or an act of generosity from a neighbor, or a warm meal on a cold day. Under the same lens, all such events are equally considered as miracles, if we are honest in our application. We might not be able to explain the unique act or occurrence at the time, but it does not make it any less a miracle.
So, now let us walk ourselves back to the garden path of our initial topic. By fitting our new framework to the topic of life experiences, the more we incorporate new activities, and broader our social connections, the more unique and modulated our experiences of life become. To walk it home, our lives are capable of being miraculous when we are open to the true wonders of the miraculous in our life experiences. I challenge you my readers to seek the new experiences of adventure (with the intact morality of course), to broaden your investment in the lives of others and add to your life the adventure of the miraculous. If we really observe the events which occur in our day and grasp the wonder of how unique each event is in our meaningful life, we will recognize the miraculous. But what is more significant, we share in the miraculous while likewise recognizing our role in the miraculous.
Here is to the miracle of you..