A miracle

The first undeniable, instantaneous miracle I saw was in June 2015.

I had met a guy named Wade a few months earlier when we moved to Zanesville. He claimed to be seeing miracles regularly while praying for people on the streets of Zanesville, and he invited me to come out with him.

That first day I went with Wade to pray for people, we met a woman named Michelle down at the thrift store. She was shopping, and Wade believed that God told him this random woman had one leg which was shorter than the other.

When Wade approached her, this stranger, and asked her if this was true, she nodded. Surprised that he would know this, she sat down in a chair, and held her legs up. Her right leg was about 3/8” shorter than her left leg, the heels of her shoes just didn’t match up. She explained that she was an Iraq war veteran, and had been in an accident which shattered her right leg. When the army surgeons pieced her back together, her reassembled leg was just a little bit shorter than it used to be, it was part of her diagnosis.

Michelle allowed us to pray. So we prayed for her in the name of Jesus, who is our rescuer and the one and only son of the real God. 30 seconds later Michelle’s legs were the same length. She said that she couldn’t describe the feeling, but that it was amazing and she could tell it was all better. And her legs, which were visibly different lengths before, were now perfectly identical. The heels of her outstretched legs matched up perfectly.

When Michelle experienced God in this way and saw His power, she cried. She opened up about so many ways that she had been hurt and abandoned by different people, and had walked away from her faith in God. And we prayed more for her, and God healed her emotionally in some big ways, but also started what I’m certain is a long and arduous battle for her trust.

In 2008, my wife Melissa and I set out to find God. The God we read out about in the Bible just didn’t seem to match up with the Christian culture we saw around us. So we threw it all out. We quit our professional corporate jobs, we sold everything we owned, we left our home and moved into a van.
Over the past ten years, God has showed up. He has rebuilt our lives based on what is true—he has restored some of the old things we threw out, left lots of it in the trash, and taught us so much more. Through all of our own mistakes and arrogance and humanness, God has been faithful to honor our earnest seeking.

And since that day in 2015, we have witnessed hundreds of miracles, and performed dozens. Some big, some small, but all obviously God and unexplainable without Him.
God is real. And we have found him. I just have to tell you. I’m sorry for not telling you sooner.

I don’t have it all figured out. Most of your questions about the hows and whys of where and when God works miraculously I can’t answer. But we can invite Jesus to show you his power and to fill you with His peace, and we can celebrate as all of those aching, burning questions which have answers beyond our human understanding melt away.

This is an invitation to give Jesus a chance. Maybe you already have a relationship with God, but you’ve never seen Him move in this way. Maybe you’ve been hurt by “Christians,” or in times that God didn’t show up. Maybe you’ve been hurt by me. Maybe this is all new, and you didn’t know that anyone actually saw and believed things like this. Get in touch with me, I don’t have any convincing arguments, but I’d love to pray with you, and to ask God to reveal himself to you, if He’s real.

Jesus is my friend. He’s really real, and it’s the most amazing thing. You have to meet him.

upcycling.

As the sun filters pink through the trees outside of their bedroom window, I listen to my son pray and reflect on what he told me earlier.

“God makes the seed grow into a tree. It’s like the seed is trash, and God makes it into something new again.” he said that evening while they played outside. “God is like upcycling.”

Upcycling—the process of taking something old and useless and giving it new purpose.

Isn’t that what it’s all about? God taking our lives, once rubbish and useless, and turning them into something new. God taking a planet, a world that was broken, fractured and terrible, and slowly redeeming it—transforming it into a new creation.

And the process that binds it all together is hope.

When you upcycle an old sock into a hand puppet, it’s senseless to do any one step. What’s the good of sewing one button onto the end of an old sock? Should I believe that a second one will help? What’s the purpose of a tassle of yard at the top? Individually these things are meaningless, but because the creator has hope, the object transforms and gains its purpose.

When we lived in Columbus, hope is what sustained me. The hope that someday people would drive by that old neighborhood, once full of criminals and brokenness, and say, “You see, God is there. What once was lost has been found. What once was broken has been restored.”

There’s a Hebrew phrase in the old testament, Jehovah Shammah, which means “The Lord is there.” It both means that God exists in a general way, and that God is specifically in this place. Listening, hoping for us.

God is with us. Hoping for us. Working step by step for a better creation in each of us, and for all of us.

We can’t upcycle by fire. Nothing explodes and suddenly turns into something new and better. Things change through the patient expression of each step, day-by-day, each seemingly inconsequential step sustained by hope.

Now I sit outside in this spacious place I get to stay for a while, watching a sunset with oranges so vibrant and pinks so deep that I’ve melted into my lawn chair. What will God make of me next?

I will wait, and I will hope for His kingdom come.

May the hope of the Lord sustain you.

Let there be light

We live in a good neighborhood.

In fairness, if you’re driving in from the suburbs, you might be terrified.  It’s not your fault, the neighborhood is intentionally mischaracterized.

A few thousand people live in these blocks that we call home. Most of them are good people. All other things being equal, most of our neighbors will choose an honest living and treat other people with decency and respect. There are some people who go out of their way to do good for others, and some people who go out of their way to take advantage of others if the opportunity presents itself. It’s like any neighborhood in the world in that respect.

But there are a few, less than 50 people by my estimation, that traffic in intimidation, aggression and fear. These people are agents of darkness. They openly sell drugs in the streets, they carry and use guns (sometimes in the direction of other people and sometimes seemingly for no reason at all), they steal or destroy anything that is available to them and habitually and openly use drugs and alcohol.  They actively encourage kids to pursue crime and addiction.

But this group of people is an extreme minority. They represent literally a handful of people among thousands.

If you drove into the neighborhood for the first time, you would likely believe that you were surrounded by these agents of darkness. They have a distinct advantage–they are visible. And they cast the neighborhood in darkness.

They will walk in the middle of the street. They will talk (yell) at ten times the necessary volume. They will park their car in the middle of the road. They will play their music at a level that can’t be comfortable for anyone involved. They will sit on your front steps and smoke a blunt if they want to.

They know something. They know that their power is based on their visibility. They know that their power is only valid for as long as they demonstrate their capacity to put themselves ahead of everyone else in the neighborhood. They are constantly sending an effective message, “We are more important than you,” and they’re yelling it as loudly as they can.  And for the most part, we all believe them.

But there’s a secret. There are more agents of light in this neighborhood than there are agents of darkness. The problem is that we’re hidden, partially out of humility, but more so out of fear. It is time for the agents of light to become visible.

We have a distinct advantage, light trumps darkness. A light can exist amidst darkness, but darkness cannot exist in the light.

Our disadvantage is that it is harder to openly demonstrate light than it is to demonstrate darkness. The mechanism is completely different.

That’s why our community garden is so important. The garden says, “There are people here who care.” When it looks and sounds like darkness surrounds us, the community garden says There is light here too. We are quiet, but we are powerful. We are humble, but we are unstoppable.

But we have to find ways to demonstrate light.  Simply not being darkness isn’t enough.

How many gangsters of darkness does a community garden cancel out? I’m not sure. But I know that the darkness cannot exist in the light. Soon we will see how brightly our community can make this light shine.

We must work together.  We must agree to rise up against the illusion of their power.  We must not allow the agents of darkness to manipulate us into believing that they are the majority.  They’re not.

Be the light. The darker the night, the brighter the stars shine.

You are the light of the world.
-Jesus