I have been thinking a lot about miracles lately. A research paper that asked me to evaluate C.S. Lewis’s writings on the topic enabled me to take a deep dive into the millennia old debate as I wrestled with my own beliefs on the subject. Brought up under both Presbyterian and Methodist teachings, strangely enough miracles did not play much into my belief systems. I find this rather remarkable as I have since learned that miracles sit at the very heart of Christianity, but my guess is that my own young heart was not ready to accept these events as facts.
What Do You Believe About Miracles?
At the center of the Christian faith is the miracle of the Incarnation: God coming down from heaven to be born as a man. As written by one of the eyewitnesses of His earthly life, “And the Word [Jesus] became flesh, and dwelt among us and we saw His glory, glory as of only from the begotten Father, full of grace and truth” (John 1:14, NIV). He lived the life we could not live, He suffered as we do, and He was miraculously resurrected. The apostle Paul later writes, “For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that He was buried, that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, and that He appeared to Cephas [Peter] and then to the twelve” (1 Corinthians 15:3-5, NIV). After this, Jesus ascended to heaven to “sit at the right hand of God” (Mark 16:19, NIV).
God’s Miracle Made Personal
This past Sunday, I got to witness a different kind of miracle as several adults were baptized at my church. There is nothing miraculous about the actual ceremony of baptism; baptism alone does not save, only faith placed in Jesus that comes through God’s grace does. Baptism is simply a public declaration of an inward decision to resign as commander-in-chief in our lives, and to invite the Holy Spirit in, as we relinquish the control that we thought we had over our lives back to God. “If you declare with your mouth, ‘Jesus is Lord’, and believe with your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved” (Romans 10:9, NIV). This is the miracle of Christianity made personal.
The day I was baptized, I remember well the sermon that was preached. It was from a sermon series called “Hot Topics.” It gave people a tangible, concrete reason to consider jumping into the water that day. The man who preached it has a gift for teaching, and I would not be able to do the sermon justice in just a few short words so I might leave that particular hot topic for another blog post.
I had already made the decision to be baptized many months earlier, and here’s why:
The first I remember hearing the gospel account was in reading C.S. Lewis’s The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe. As a child, I had made some of the sacraments, but I had little foundation in the faith. Some not so great choices in college and beyond soon brought me to a place of brokenness, an utter disappointment in myself, my poor life decisions and the resulting wreckage. It also brought me a diagnosis which has been at times life-threatening.
But it was in this tumultuous period that I first started listening and to truly understand the goodness of God that I had taken for granted. He appeared in the kindness and compassion of strangers– countless EMTs, doctors, caregivers, and even other patients. He also showed up in much-loved family: in the brother who came alongside me to walk with me through that trial and who pointed me to Christ, in the sister-in-law who brought me to a doctor who forever changed my perspective on my diagnosis, and in my parents as they loved me through it all. God also spoke to me through two very dear friends, who had become Christians a decade or so earlier, who were so faithfully encouraging me and who lovingly explained to me that admitting my need for a Savior was not a decision made in weakness, but one made in strength, commitment, and courage.
This is by no means an exhaustive list. There were countless others I know who were praying for me, and who continue to pray for me, and I am eternally grateful for their prayers. The peace and the steadiness that I have since experienced is a testimony to the power of those prayers and to the goodness of God. It truly takes a village to melt an unrepentant heart. And God does His most beautiful work in us through His community of believers.
That day at the beach many years ago, I will never forget the joy I experienced as I was baptized by three new brothers. That joy was reflected back to me on the faces of those who were there that day, many of whom I loved and who loved me as I was welcomed into the kingdom.
To this day, on baptism days, you will often find me in the back of the sanctuary or standing waist-deep in the bay, welling up in tears of joy and gratitude for the goodness of my Savior as I watch others make the public declaration of their decision to follow Christ.
“And the God of all grace, who called you to His eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will Himself restore you and make you strong, firm, and steadfast” (1 Peter 5:10, NIV).
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