“This salvation, which was first announced by the Lord, was confirmed to us by those who heard him. God also testified to it by signs, wonders and various miracles, and by gifts of the Holy Spirit distributed according to his will.” (Hebrews 2:3b-4)
Okay, I’ll just come out and say it. I long to see more miracles in the UK. I know I see miracles every single day, and for that I am hugely grateful. Here are just a few examples; the deep conversation with someone who has never opened up to anyone, the moment of clarity for a politician, the beautifully crafted song that says something significant, the planet Jupiter shining piercingly out of the night sky, my gorgeous wife just loving me. These are all miracles in the true sense of the word, but I honestly long for something more. Seeing the creator’s fingerprints in His miraculous creation inspires me, but I long for the moments when He breaks into the groove of the beautiful rhythms He kick-started, to do something unexpected, unwarranted and inexplicable.
I suspect I speak for many people reading this when I suggest that although we believe theoretically that these breakthroughs are possible, and we will pray in faith for crisis situations with all sincerity, that somewhere in the back of our heads there is a voice whispering, ‘but that only happens in the special places, or with the special people’. We’ve all heard the stories, and we probably believe them, but that’s different to having an everyday working faith that would allow our expectations to rise. As citizens of the west we have become scarily good at lowering our own expectations to avoid disappointment.
I long to see more events that will confound scientists and the media. Events that will give Him glory and force people to reconsider their presumptions, as they are so obviously not engineered by human hands. A little bit of good PR for the great stuff that many Christian organisations do is great, but are we settling for that?
More than anything I long to see my neighbours on our block released from some of the stuff that binds them. Jen and I could be the best friends possible to them for the next 20 years, running creative and clever programs in the neighbourhood, but to be honest they might only scratch the surface. For many there are layers of hurt and oppression that need some serious invisible engineering. Not that that is going to stop us just being here.
Last year Jen and I had the privilege of spending a weekend at L’Église Réformée du Mairie inParis. What is happening there is quite simply incredible. In a seedy part of town, in a gloriously low-key way, they are seeing people made whole. They are seeing demons cast out of people, ridiculous healings at close quarters and at a distance, and specific words of knowledge that have shaped political decisions. And none of this is accompanied by the sort of razzmatazz that sadly often follows along with miraculous events. Those doing the praying are often those who have experienced transformation themselves. We were prayed for by ex-prostitutes, drug addicts, and homeless folks. They were able to tell me things about myself that no-one could have known naturally. Rather than an old testament model of all the focus being on the ‘anointed special one’, the work of praying for folks is spread around a willing team of people. Amazingly and beautifully, children are often involved in directing prayers in the right direction to cause breakthrough, sensing specific strongholds that are holding someone down.
One of the team saw letters dancing above the head of an Ivorian lady who had huge physical and psychological issues and they formed into a word that made no sense to the ‘pray-er’. When they asked the lady what these letters could mean, she broke down, as they were the name of a man (a sorcerer) who had raped her in her village. She had never told anyone. She was healed and delivered and is now healthy, a believer and part of the prayer team.
We saw some wonderful stuff, and heard many more mind-blowing stories like that, but none of it was loud or hyped. Just people allowing God to do His thing. Amazing. And restorative to my faith. It feels like they are doing the right stuff in the right places. God moves when we reach out to the broken.
Is it time for us to raise our expectations? Is it time for us to put away our cynicism? Is it time for us to be dwelling in places of need? Please send in your stories of UK miracles. I do know one thing. I know the problem isn’t at God’s end. More on that next time…