We love to believe in miracles when we need them, but dismiss them when we are living in our everyday lives. Suddenly, we feel as if it doesn’t fit within the materialistic framework we’ve grown accustomed to. It’s to be dismissed. Only the crazies believe in miracles- you know, the religious fanatics or the new age spiritualists. Everyday people simply cannot believe in miracles. It’s intellectual suicide. Or is there another possibility? A possibility where reason and miracles complement?
A friend bought us the book Miracles:What They are, Why They Happen, and How They Can Change Your Life by Eric Metaxas as an encouragement to the journey in recovering health. I expected to find a series of stories describing miraculous accounts from beginning to end, but was pleasantly surprised that over ¼ of the book presented case making of miracles. Metaxas launches into a rational formation of why we should even believe in miracles.
The hot topics of today’s culture are mentioned: Does science negate the possibility for the miraculous? (The highly respectable John Lennox and Francis Collins are mentioned in this subject.) What constitutes a miracle? Is it realistic to believe in miracles in a naturalistic society? Metaxas brilliantly makes the case for life and the universe itself as a sheer miracle, providing mind-blowing data that’s certain to be “highlighter” worthy.
He then segues into the resurrection of Christ, listing evidence that refortifies the faith of the believer and provides food for thought for the skeptic. One of my favorite parts of the resurrection chapter was the poem Metaxas added from John Updike called “Seven Stanzas at Easter” which illustrates with such beauty the reality to the resurrection that is oftentimes muddled in our current culture, redefining what “resurrection” even means. Even though I truly appreciated his case making, I was disappointed in the lack of annotations. (It should also be noted that the “case making” for the miraculous is not as extensive as what you would find in a higher level academic read since this book’s target audience was the everyday Joe.)
Metaxas then writes further of his own conversion story from skeptic to a person of faith which is a pleasurable read, then continues with other stories of the miraculous from only those he knows personally as he can vouch for their credibility.
The stories are good reads, some more compelling than others. However, I did take slight issue with some of the documenting. In the account of “The Sobbing Judge” in chapter fourteen, Metaxas recounts the story of Alice Von Hildebrand who went through a messy ordeal of trying to free an innocent man in court. She prayed to her deceased husband’s picture prior to the court hearing, passionately requesting him to help save this man from a harsh penalty he did not deserve. The man was indeed freed, but I was left confused as to whether the credit was due to Hildebrand’s prayer to her deceased husband (thereby his intervention to be praised) or to God Himself.
A second incident that left me puzzled was the story of “The Watch Stops.” The beginning was interesting because Metaxas himself was part of the story, watching this man preach from the pulpit, then fall into a sudden medical incident that turned into an emergency crises where death was imminent. The gentleman’s watch stopped on a future date and would not move from the date no matter the winding he tried to perform to fix his watch. He had a knowing from God that he would be healed on the precise date and time the watch stopped. Yet the same man felt the need to go to a Benny Hinn conference that very day to imbue healing. Why would he go to a healing crusade if he knew he would be healed? I wish the details of some of these cases were ironed out more to provide clarity for the reader, nevertheless the story of his recovery was remarkable and inspiring. I do not discount either of the stories mentioned as “non-miraculous.”
The book as a whole is a piece we are happy to have sitting on our bookshelf. Two accounts that vividly stick in my mind as re-readables are: “Two Hemispheres, Three Songs,” and “Allergic to Everything.” All were very moving accounts. Through the course of the book, one can certainly see Metaxas putting his Yale English major to good use with his well-crafted writing.
Metaxas’ ending of the book was unforgettable:
How very easy it is for us to fall into the default of passing miracles to the side as merely fictitious hopeful imaginings. We both found it difficult to believe in miracles for a good portion of our lives, yet we both found a point in life where we could not deny the miraculous (this could get to a long story, so we’ll save you from a read. 😉 )
We write this reflection on this particular book because 1) We resolutely believe in miracles and we are still holding out for more in our life and 2) because it is more than fitting for Eric Metaxas to be on “Inkblots of an Idealist”; he is a true idealist in how it is defined on this site. He wishes to bring change through this world with hope that is grounded on reason with a kick of whit. With his gaining platform as a New York Times Bestselling Author of Bonhoeffer, Pastor, Martyr, Spy he was able to attain the privilege to speak at The National Prayer Breakfast in 2012 which is certainly worthy of a watch.
Good bye for now to everyone reading these words. We pray for miracles in your own life, in whatever way, shape or form they come.