The problem with miracles, I have found, is that they are easy to forget. Already I hear dissent. Unbelievers like to claim that if they were to truly witness a miracle, then and only then would they lay down their unbelief. But in my experience, miracles don’t even make believers believe. Consider the Hebrews. The Red Sea parted for them, and they were led by a pillar of fire by night and a cloud by day. Bread rained down on them.
Tangible corporate miracles and yet, no heart change was evident, and only two of the original generation set foot in the Promised Land.
I first noticed this tendency for humans to discount the miraculous in myself. Numerous physical healings gave me a reverence for God, and I thanked Him heartily, unlike the nine lepers who practically scrambled over Jesus to get to the temple for cleansing. But I was not fundamentally changed. I did not become super spiritual or even more pious than before. But how I truly learned that miracles are not quite what we think was through a person I prayed over for healing.
The whole experience taught me a number of things about miracles; primarily that I have no control and that miracles don’t change a person.
I once prayed over a man I knew who struggled with migraines. And I confess, I did it to provoke more than out of a deeply compassionate heart. I prayed for him because he liked to bait me over scripture. My honest thought at the time was, “I’ll give you some scripture,” and so I prayed that God would cause his body to align with the Word. The word I had in mind was, “…by His stripes we are healed.” I prayed over him for thirty seconds and let him go. I confess this lest anyone think I am more than I am or that my prayer was more than it was.
By that evening his migraine disappeared. By the following month, his surgery to remove scar tissue in his brain (which I was unaware of when I prayed) was cancelled. The scar tissue vanished. He was miraculously healed and had the MRI’s to prove it. I expected this to effect a deep heart change in him, but it did not. He went on to continue what is, I suspect, a tortuous existence. I was disappointed.
My first genuine healing miracle was a bit of a bust.
Now six or seven years later, I get it. Not all of it, but a little more. I used to imagine the scene where Jesus invited Peter to walk on the water as a one off kind of miracle, unrelated to the other miracles Jesus performed. I hate the word, performed. The miracles flow out of Jesus, out of who He is. He is not a circus performer conjuring up tricks. I imagined Jesus walking on the calm Sea of Galilee (or lake, for that it what it is) and the water is calm. I imagine the water cool under Peter’s feet. He freaks out and then starts to sink.
But that is not how it happened. It was a dark and stormy night. Yes, I went there. The disciples, like all of us would be, whimpered in their little boat. They see Jesus from a distance walking towards the boat. They think He is a ghost. Jesus assures them that it is just Him. Peter, the one with the mouth, says, “Hey if it is really you, invite me to walk out on the water.” Jesus complies. Peter dared Jesus and then doesn’t have the guts to keep on keeping on, if you get my drift. And to give Peter his due, walking in a storm, on wind-swept waves is a challenge. I imagine, at least.
But here is the difference between the Hebrews and Peter, or the Hebrews and you and me. The Hebrews enjoyed the benefit of a leader, they witnessed nine plagues, and they had the safety of the crowd. But only one had the anointing of the Holy Spirit and that was Moses. Nowadays, revelation is available to anyone who seeks it. The Holy Spirit makes Himself available to anyone who asks with a pure or even pure-ish heart.
And so Peter is alone on the water with Jesus. And so are you and I.
The Hebrews walked through their personal trials. We, if we will, can now walk over them. True the water is tumultuous, but no longer do we have to be overwhelmed by the sea. For the Hebrews, the Red Sea was their biggest problem, trapping them between Pharaoh and safety. As an archtype, the Red Sea is predictive of the blood of Jesus. Through the blood of Jesus, we are delivered.
The Sea of Galilee is different. We have already come through the Red Sea, delivered from our slavery to sin. Now we are up against the world, the flesh, and the Devil, all of which the Bible describes in various places as coming in like a flood, hunting like a ravening beast, and a fiery furnace. Interesting that specific deliverances accompany each of those images.
So I come to my main point at last. If you want to walk on water, give it a go. Then what?
But if you want to walk on water, that is move through this tumult we call life in a way that saves you from drowning, the real miracle is unshakable peace.
The real miracle is a faith that does not flinch in the wind and the waves. The Hebrews could not grasp this, but don’t blame them. They depended on another for their revelation. You do not. A spirit of power, love, and a sound mind are the revelations available to you. How? Don’t be like Peter. Keep your eyes on Jesus, the Way, the Truth, and the Life.
Take hold of this revelation. Take hold of Him. Do that and miracles will flow into your life.
But more importantly, your very life will be the miracle.
And to give Peter his due, by the time the resurrection occurred, he so understood this revelation, that thousands were transformed on Pentecost. Miracles flowed out of the man. They can flow out of you, too.