Miracles

Resurrection Diaries: Thomas

Dinner was awfully different tonight.  The food was the same: lamb, flatbread, cucumbers, olives.  But, what a strange occurrence.

We were in the main room of the house.  The table had been laid out as always.  All of us in our usual seats.  For fear of someone wandering in, we had the doors locked.  Still not sure what the authorities—Jewish or Roman—are thinking about us.

As we talked about the events of the last few days, and wondering if the stories of our friends having seen Jesus were really true, Thomas made the most outrageous statement.

“I’ll believe it when I see it.  When I can push my finger through the holes in his hands and feet, and can shove my hand into his side, then—and only then—will I believe it.”

Well, finally, someone said what most of us were thinking.

And, then, Jesus showed up.  In the room.  With us.  Door was still locked—I checked it myself.  But, there stood Jesus.

“Hey, Thomas,” he said.  “Come over here, put your hand here.”  He pulled back his robe to reveal the spot where they had shoved the spear into His side.

Thomas did, and then let out a holler unlike any I’d ever heard.

“It’s Him!”

“Really, guys, it’s HIM!”

———

Aren’t we all a bit like Thomas?

Others had seen Jesus.  The women, some of the men, Cleopas and his friend had seen Jesus.  Eyewitnesses to the resurrection.  Yet, Thomas isn’t so sure.

Maybe it was a vision.  Maybe a dream.  Maybe a hallucination.  But, actually Jesus?  Not sure.

He challenges the others.  Maybe they’re even growing a bit tired of Thomas’ verbal doubts.  And, then, Jesus shows up.

Can you hear the laughter of the others?  “See, Thomas, we told you!  We told you that He was alive!  You didn’t believe us, but I guess you do now!”

But, I can relate to Thomas.  At some point in all of our lives, we will doubt.  We’ll doubt the trustworthiness of God.  We’ll doubt the promises.  We’ll stand on the edge of the road, looking at the empty—but blood-stained—cross where our dreams were killed, and there we will doubt.  We’ll be forced to admit that our hopes and dreams are dead, and our prayers will go unanswered.

And, then, into the room, walks Jesus.  Smiling.  Laughing.  Comforting.  And, gently scolding.  Jesus.

In that moment, our doubts are erased.  Our fears are calmed.  Our hope is restored.  The trustworthiness of our God is proved.

Yet, doubt isn’t a good thing.  It’s a real thing, but it’s not good.  Doubt says that our God isn’t big enough to overcome our problem.  To doubt is to deny the goodness and grace of God.  It’s to deny the very resurrection.  To doubt is to say, “God, You can’t handle this.”

To doubt is to make you the lord of your life.  It’s worshiping at the altar of self.  It’s idolatry.

So, what do we do?

I’m reminded of the story of the Israelites.  Time and time and time and time again throughout the Old Testament, God’s chosen people are given the command: “REMEMBER.”  Read the books of Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy and count the number of times this command is given.  Read the Psalms and see how often remembering is a part of the worship of the Israelite people.  Read the Proverbs and see the wisdom in remembering.

Remember!

This command isn’t meant to be taken in a philosophical, “Yep, God is good all the time” kind of way.  It’s a command to write down what God has done for you.  It’s a command to write them down.  To recite them to your family.  To teach them to your children.  To talk about them on your way to school and work and church and Wal-Mart.  To listen as your children recite them back to you.

“Hey, Dad, remember that time that God…”

Remembering only works when you are an active participant in the process of remembering.  You have to say it out loud.  You have to repeat it.  You have to write the story.  You have to tweet the good news.

You have to be aware of the miracle.  Don’t write things off to coincidence.  Quit calling it fate.   Stop ignoring the miracle within the mundane.  God is working.  He is moving.  He cares about the big things and the little things.

A couple of years ago, we were in Colorado Springs doing our Discipleship Training School with Youth With A Mission.  One particular Tuesday, I was craving a hamburger.  I could almost taste the meat and the cheese and the mustard and the pickle.  I remember driving my friends crazy because I kept talking about how good a hamburger would taste.  The next day at lunch, we had hamburgers.  Now, I had no idea what was on the menu.  I just knew that the day before I told God that hamburgers sounded really good.  I could call that a coincidence.  But, to do so would be to assume that God doesn’t care about hamburgers, and He doesn’t care about me.  So, to this day, we talk about the day that God cared enough to provide hamburgers.  And, friends, these weren’t just frozen patties.  These were hand-crafted, flame-broiled, with bacon, thick and juicy hamburgers.

Because, God cares about my wanting hamburgers, and He cares about Thomas’ doubts.  He cares enough to provide hamburgers, so I can trust Him with things like airfare, and my kid’s health, and beds to sleep in.

And, so, we remember.  We write it down.  We talk about it.  We rehearse it.  We tell each other the story.  And, we remember the goodness of God.

Thomas, we are told from Church tradition, travelled to India.  It is believed that he baptized several people in the town of Muziris, India, and served as a missionary to the people of India.  He is known as the Patron Saint of India.

Thomas’ response to seeing the wounds of Jesus was to proclaim boldly that he was no longer the lord of his life.  Instead, he trusted God’s goodness to restore and renew and resurrect.  And, he went about the rest of his life proclaiming that message of the Gospel of the Kingdom.

You can read the full story of Jesus revealing Himself to Thomas in John 20:19-29.

Lent 2013: God’s Riches Are Not Exhausted

As we have done throughout previous Lenten and Advent seasons, we are again blogging through the Lectionary readings in this Lenten season. This year, however, due to our travels in Central Asia, we have asked a number of guests to blog for us. These guests are individuals who are influential in our lives and work. We're honored to share this space with them–and with you–in this season of reflection.

A reading from the Prophet Isaiah

I am the Lord, your Holy One, the Creator of Israel, your King.” Thus says the Lord, who makes a way in the sea, a path in the mighty waters, who brings forth chariot and horse, army and warrior; they lie down, they cannot rise, they are extinguished, quenched like a wick: “Remember not the former things, nor consider the things of old. Behold, I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert. The wild beasts will honor me, the jackals and the ostriches, for I give water in the wilderness, rivers in the desert, to give drink to my chosen people, the people whom I formed for myself that they might declare my praise.

— Isaiah 43:15-21 (ESV)

I remember praying for Michael one evening at a prayer gathering when we were in a time of waiting on The Lord for a breakthrough. The miracles God had already performed on our behalf had left us in awe of Him, but to be honest, we were both beginning to fear that we had received as much of the big miracles from Him that we were going to receive. We believed He would still watch over us, care for us, and provide for us, but as far as the knock-your-socks-off going far beyond our wildest dreams miracles, we were starting to figure one can only have so many of those per lifetime.

As I was praying for Michael, God began to fix my eyes back on Him again and on who He is as our Father and our God. As my mind was filled with the knowledge of the glory of God, my faith began to rise again as God began to restore that childlike faith that believes that God is love and able and almighty, and He is a God who blesses. I realized that we could never exhaust the imagination of our Father God! How foolish and wrong to ever have entertained the thought that He was through with blessing us! I had magnified my challenges rather than my Lord.

Though the Israelites had seen God perform mighty works and wondrous deeds, He had not even begun! We have not seen all The Lord can do. God has been revealing Himself to mankind from the beginning of creation, and we still only have the faintest glimpse of His majesty. He delights to give us a fuller understanding of Himself.

Father God, I read the things you did in days long ago, I hear testimonies of your goodness from my brothers and sisters in Christ, and I see the incredible way You have moved mountains in my life. Help me not to take all those many stories, put them in a box and try to fit You in it, thinking that You must certainly be ready to retire after all those displays of your love and power. Help me to regard all those stories as just beginning of all you will do. I confess that You are bigger than I could ever imagine! Show me Your glory that I may declare it among the nations! For Your glory! Amen.

Advent 2012: Preparing The Path: New Shoes

As we did throughout Advent 2011 and Lent 2012, we are blogging our way through the Advent 2012 Lectionary Readings. We love this time of year, and sharing with you in this way. Our overarching theme during this season is “Preparing the Path” and our prayer is that as we march together toward the manger, we will prepare the way for Emmanuel.

A reading from the prophet Isaiah.

“I trust you to save me, LORD God, and I won't be afraid. My power and my strength come from you, and you have saved me.”

With great joy, you people will get water from the well of victory. At that time you will say, “Our LORD, we are thankful, and we worship only you. We will tell the nations how glorious you are and what you have done. Because of your wonderful deeds we will sing your praises everywhere on earth.”

Sing, people of Zion! Celebrate the greatness of the holy LORD of Israel. God is here to help you.

— Isaiah 12:2-6

I heard it said one time that God does great things for us to give us a testimony. While I think there is truth in that statement, I have also witnessed God performing miraculous works for people who don't even know who He is.

What a beautiful thing!

The God of Heaven working miracles for people who don't even know Him.

Don't serve Him.

Don't worship Him.

That's humility. That's love.

And, that's why we do what we do. That's why we “tell the nations how glorious you are and what you have done.”

It's for His name and His fame!

It's such a great thing to stand back and see God move on our behalf. To see Him perform miracles big and small. As I write this, I've just returned home from a trip that included a stop at a local thrift store.

My favorite pair of shoes is a pair of fifteen-year-old Doc Martens. I've loved these shoes since I first purchased them with some Christmas Money back in college.

But, years of wear has finally overcome these shoes.

For the past few weeks, I've been praying that I would find a new pair of Docs to wear. Here's the deal, Docs aren't cheap, and I would never pay full price for a pair.

And, then, today we stopped into this thrift store. There I found a pair of Doc Martens. They were my size. They were $9.00.

God looking out for us in small ways.

Before you say it's a coincidence, let me just quote Pete Greig (who was quoting St. Augustine). “You can call it coincidence. But, what I know is that the more I pray, the more coincidences happen.”

And, so, we tell His wonders in the world. We tell of His provision. We tell of His healing. We tell of His providing new shoes.

Because, our God cares about the hairs on our head so much so that He has them numbered and knows which is which.

New Shoes

New Shoes