This piece was also published as a nationally syndicated column with Gannett.
I’m afraid that miracles have gotten a bad name. Part of the problem is a regrettable subset of my clergy profession known as TV evangelists. You know the kind . . . folks with large, white, blow-dried hair who holler, “Just touch the television screen, and shout ‘Thank You, Jesus!’ Then mail a check for $49.95, and your psoriasis will be healed!”
The trashy rags you see in the grocery store check-out line also cast shade on the idea of miracles. The last one I saw featured the headline: “Cactus in Arizona Grows in Exact Shape of Gathering at Last Supper!”
Then, there’s the worst culprit of all: our own doubt. Nurtured by years of disappointments, we begin to believe that miracles aren’t possible—or at least not for us.
How tragic. Deeply embedded under our unhealed psoriasis, unrealized communion cactus, and unhinged confidence, I believe that there lies a tiny ember of hope that maybe, just maybe, miracles may still be possible. In fact, times like these—times of upheaval and difficulty—are ripe for miracles.
The Celts called tumultuous times of change “thin places.” Others, such as Franciscan father and author Richard Rohr, call them liminal spaces, those places “betwixt and between the familiar and the completely unknown” where fresh new growth can emerge. Rohr explains the significance of such places as “the realm where God can best get at us because our false certitudes are finally out of the way. . . . The threshold is God’s waiting room . . . an appointment with the divine Doctor.”
If our country has ever been in a liminal space, it’s now. If we as a people have ever been in a liminal space, it’s now. Truly, it is a time ripe for miracles.
Unfortunately, this is the point at which things usually break down. We read words like this, get our hopes up—again—and then sit back and wait for a miracle to happen. The operative word being “wait.” What we fail to realize is that we have agency in those miracles.
Think about all the miracles written about in the Bible. God created the miracle of manna, but the Israelites had to go out and gather it each day. At the wedding in Cana, Jesus commanded the stewards to fill up the stone jars with water. As they poured, the water turned into wine. Heaven provided the miracle; humans provided the means of delivery.
Recently, I read a story about Ashley Richer, a photographer who donates Disney-themed photo shoots to children with cancer. Ashley lost a young family friend to cancer. Rather than “wait” for future miracles to happen, she decided to use her God-given gifts, her miracles, to make dreams come true.
One such dream happened for five-year-old Arianna Taft. While Arianna was fighting a rare form of kidney cancer, Ashley invited her to do a photo shoot, complete with costumes, special effects, and backgrounds. Soon Arianna was transformed into Elsa from Frozen, Snow White, and Merida from Brave. A heavenly miracle of joy and hope was brought to fruition through humble human hands.
There are miracles all around us waiting to happen—waiting for us to make them happen. And Lord knows, we could sure use some.
Who in your life needs a miracle?
What in your community, your nation, or your world needs a miracle?
What abilities and gifts do you have that can usher in those miracles?
The moment to make them happen is now. Like little Arianna, we do not know what tomorrow will bring, but we do know who holds tomorrow. And that’s all that truly matters. For in that liminal place of turbulence and transition, all things, including miracles, are possible.
— A trial lawyer turned stand-up comedian, and Baptist minister, Rev. Susan Sparks is the senior pastor of Madison Avenue Baptist Church in New York City. A nationally known speaker and preacher, she is the author of three books, including her newest, “Miracle on 31st Street: Christmas Cheer Every Day of the Year – Grinch to Gratitude in 26 Days!” Contact her through her email at firstname.lastname@example.org, or her website, www.SusanSparks.com.