Worship: Give way to wonder

It might open your eyes to the miraculous

My friend Will is a banker. There’s nothing wild about Will. He’s conservative, dresses in a suit and tie on weekends, and he speaks with a wise, measured tone. He’s not given to speculation or fantasies.

But Will claims to have experienced a miracle.

He was born with one leg shorter than the other by about two inches. He endured special shoes and limited activity throughout his growing-up years, and as an adult he had pants fitted to match his legs. One day he described his condition to his pastor, who then asked him to take off his shoe and roll up his pants leg. The pastor placed his hands on Will’s ankle. Will said that he felt a warmth move through his leg and that he could actually feel his leg extending. He was healed, and he was going to need some new clothes.

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“I’m not crazy,” Will told me. “I didn’t even believe in healing before that day. All I know is that I experienced a miracle.”

I’ll admit that as a pastor of 20 years, I have only witnessed one or two of these types of events. But the language of miracles is common in my circles of friends. Circumstances that seem intractable break open. The language of miracles can be applied to healed relationships, a long-awaited job or a successful treatment for illness. I hear these stories all the time among people of faith.

Even among those who claim no faith orientation, I overhear the language of miracles. “That was a minor miracle,” they say, or “I need a miracle.” Such statements reveal a recognition that there is much we don’t understand, and that the help of heaven, however unlikely, is possible. Miracles happen in spite of our best efforts to not believe. Even the staunchest cynics can’t help but think, with wonder, on occasion, “What was that all about?”

Something out of the ordinary brings forth a spontaneous, whispered, “wow.”

Wonder rests at the heart of a miracle. The word comes from the Latin “miraculum,” which means an object of wonder. A miracle could be defined as “a surprising and welcome event that is not explicable by natural or scientific laws and is therefore considered to be the work of a divine agency.”

This prompts a question: Does the capacity for wonder open us up to the possibility of a miracle, or does the miracle lead to a feeling of wonder?

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The capacity to experience wonder is a miracle in itself. I suppose that part of experiencing a miracle comes with one’s perception and anticipation. What one person calls a miracle, another calls circumstance, or chance, or a natural event that may or may not be understood. For those with eyes to see, miracles abound.

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This new year, keep your eyes open. Pay attention to the miracle of each day. And when the going gets tough, turn to wonder. Who knows? You may find yourself touched, warmed and even healed.

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