Waiting Too Long for a Miracle

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CHANCES ARE GOOD YOU’VE heard the old story, but some stories are worth revisiting:

The town is flooding—the waters rising. A police officer goes house to house to warn people to leave for higher ground—and to offer his cruiser as a ride to safety. At one home, a man answers the door and thanks the officer but says, “I have faith in God—and I’m trusting Him for a miracle. He will save me.”

Soon the waters have risen to the man’s waist, and a neighbor in a canoe paddles by.

“Climb in,” the neighbor urges. But the man turns down the invitation.

“God is going to save me,” he says.

The waters swiftly rise till they force the man to his rooftop. A helicopter moves close, and a voice shouts, “Here’s a line. Take hold of it—and we’ll pull you up.”

But again, the man refuses. “Go pick up someone else,” he shouts back. “God is going to save me.”

Finally, the water rises over the man’s head, and he drowns.

In due course, he finds himself in heaven before God.

“Why didn’t You work a miracle?” he asks. “Why didn’t You save me?”

“What more could I do?” God answers. “I sent you a police officer, a canoe, and a helicopter—and you turned them all down.”

Plenty of lessons can be drawn here. The folly of presumption, for one. But what it highlights for me is that it’s vital to understand how God works in our lives.

For example, though He’s demonstrated that He can, God doesn’t always perform a miraculous healing. Far more often, healing comes through the knowledge He’s made available that leads to healing—or to avoiding illness in the first place. Some of that knowledge, doctors and other healthcare professionals may possess. Some of it is available to any of us if we put forth the effort to find it.

God may not always do something supernatural for us, when He has given us good minds to learn how to avoid problems or solve them, focusing instead on the natural realm of cause-and-effect, creative problem-solving, and other ways of addressing what life brings us.

And like the man in the flood, is it possible that we are prone to blindness when it comes to seeing that God’s normal way of helping us is that He’s already surrounded us with countless options for solving problems—if only we use what is nearby? God never designed us to sit passively wringing our hands and waiting for a miracle—when He has already provided a solution or a deliverance if only we proactively use what He’s already given us: good judgment, the power of choice, and our own creative effort (a police cruiser, a canoe, a helicopter?).

We may debate how much God does—and how much we do—when it comes to our personal salvation. And yes, there are some differences when it comes to this area. But my focus here is not on that but on the challenges of daily life: health, finances, relationships, and our personal safety, for example.

Can God work miracles? Clearly, He can, has, and does. But how can we ever learn to reason from cause to effect—to understand that actions have consequences—if He unfailingly intervenes to deliver us from negative outcomes? And why should He solve all our problems for us, when in nearly all cases, He has given us everything we need to do that for ourselves?

Is it not possible that God’s greatest miracle is the awesomely powerful and efficient problem-solving mind He created and gave us? Next time life confronts you with rapidly rising water, consider taking the police car or the canoe—or at least the helicopter!

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One response to this post.

  1. Posted by sharon mary on July 11, 2007 at 5:47 pm

    My thoughts exactly! It’s kind of like you hope your children turn out – able to handle life with the tools you helped them fine-tune. It’s sad to hear people use God as a crutch – or a scapegoat – or an excuse – for using what he blessed them with at their creation.

    It’s also not a scary thing to not know everything – to have a reason figured out for everything that happens to us down here. God did bless us with the power of choice – which means to me that he designed that at least a large part of the outcome of my life short-range and long-range is up to my decisions; not entirely upon what he does or does not do. That, coupled with the fact that there is just as much an evil force upon this earth that each of us is subject to as there is a pure, divine force means to me that not everything that happens – no matter if I beg or plead in prayer or not – is going to culminate into a pure, divine outcome. If it did, I guess I’d be in Heaven, now wouldn’t I?

    Thank you for the thought-provoking post here!

    Reply

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