I remember once watching a car accident unfold on a busy roundabout.
This guy clipped the back of my mate as he was driving clockwise in his big Volvo, spinning it 180 degrees before it came to a stop. In the middle of rush hour traffic. In the middle of a busy roundabout. In fact – I was queuing in my car a few feet away …which is why I witnessed the whole thing. Amazingly – my mate didn’t hit any other cars as his Volvo spun on the roundabout! In fact – I watched as he got out of the car…rush hour zooming past him…and he stood there shouting, “It’s a miracle!” I guess he was meaning – I cannot believe there’s no damage to my car. It’s also surprising that no other drivers were involved…or indeed that my mate wasn’t run over on the roundabout!
When the unexpected – or the extremely unlikely happens – we might be tempted to exclaim – “It’s a miracle!” And what we mean is – I simply do not understand how that could have happened (or not happened!) Now – in my mate’s case – I don’t think I witnessed a supernatural miracle that evening. I don’t believe some unseen hand was protecting him. It was probably just a lucky escape.
But I’ll tell you something else – I have got no problem believing that sometimes real miracles do happen. And they happen for a purpose. I have a great example from my life that I will come to in a bit.
You know – if the natural Universe is all that there is, if the laws of science define the boundaries of existence…if we are just the products of the blind forces of nature…then I grant you. Miracles are absurd.
But if God created this Universe, and if he sustains our planet and he is interested in each and every human being that has ever lived on it…then the miraculous ceases to be absurd. If we consider that God may exist (and I believe in God because of evidence…not in the absence of evidence) then miracles aren’t just highly likely…they are absolutely necessary.
This will be a problem for many thinking people. Why? Because we suspect that a miracle claim is a throwback to an uninformed, ancient and ignorant culture. Right? Well – no, not necessarily. Mankind may well have been unscientific 2000 years ago – all the modern the scientific disciplines hadn’t really taken hold at that point (altho its amazing what people were doing and understanding about the Universe in ancient cultures!). Human cultures were pre-scientific, but that doesn’t make people stupid. And it doesn’t demand that miracles can’t be real either.
You see – all a miracle actually is…is God feeding an extra unexpected influence into the Universe from outside of space and time. When a miracle occurs – it doesn’t violate the scientific laws. All a miracle does is redirect the normal flow of events (that scientific laws so clearly articulate) in that instance. Afterwards, the universe carries on as normal.
Consider it this way. When an apple falls from a tree, Isaac Newton tells us about a natural law that causes the apple to hit the ground; the law of Gravity. Gravity is ALSO an awesome movie released in 2013 by Alfonso Cuaron…but I digress. Anyway – as the apple leaves the tree – we know it will hit the ground. Unless, that is, someone puts their hand out and catches the apple. If that was to happen, there would be a completely different turn of events – all because in that second, the apple was caught. But remember – despite the good catch – the law of gravity still holds on planet earth. Future apples will still fall to the ground – unless they too are caught on the way down. Intervening in the apple’s journey does not break the law of gravity at all. In a similar way – miracle doesn’t violate scientific law.
Miracles are similar to the intervention of the apple catcher. The difference is – the divine miracle worker exists outside of time and space…whiles the apple catcher doesn’t. Yet the principle is the same.
The occurrence of miracle doesn’t negate any law of nature – miracle circumvents natural law in an instance – for a good purpose. In the apple’s case, someone was hungry and wanted a snack. In the Bible’s case, God raised Jesus from the dead so that we could know for certain that there is a way to heaven and a future hope for everyone. But the laws of nature aren’t broken as a result of Jesus’ miraculous resurrection. The Universe carries on regardless.
Miracle is God’s intervention for his good and loving purpose. Or as the Bible puts it…
“Because Jesus was raised from the dead, we’ve been given a brand-new life and have everything to live for, including a future in heaven—and the future starts now!” 1 Peter 1:3, The Message
I promised you a miracle story from my own life. Well…here it comes.
It was early afternoon, 21st October, 1971. May Gray, my Mum, tucked 3 year old me and 18 month old Annie into the back of our new Mini for a shopping trip to Clarkston on the outskirts of Glasgow. May climbed into the driver’s seat and turned the key in the ignition. Nothing happened. She tried again – click. She sat for quite some time trying again and again to get the engine to turn over – without success. In the end – and in sheer frustration – she unbuckled us from the back seat, and carried us into the house again. No doubt muttering about the stupid car and what she was going to say to my Dad when he got home.
At 2:50pm the row of shops that May was heading to with me on Clarkston High Street exploded in a fireball that took the lives of over 20 shop workers, shoppers and passing bus passengers. The horrific accident was the result of a buildup of gas due to a leak in the gas main.
Still at home – May listened in shock to the news on the radio. A dawning realization washed over her. We would have been in the middle of that explosion if we had left home when she intended to.
Amazing as this may seem – the story is not finished. Because after my father returned from work and listened to the shocking story, he made his way onto our driveway holding the car key. He opened the driver’s door, sat in the seat and turned the ignition. The car engine roared into life.
There are countless examples of this sort of thing – and even more amazing occurrences thru human history. Miracle is God’s intervention for his good and loving purpose.