What is a miracle?
Do they still happen?
Do we see them and dismiss them as "coincidences", "good luck" or "philanthropic gestures?"
Dictionary.com defines a miracle as:
1. an effect or extraordinary event in the physical world that surpasses all known human or natural powers and is ascribed to a supernatural cause.
2. such an effect or event manifesting or considered as a work of God.
3. a wonder; marvel.
I've been sitting here pondering all the "cool things" that have been happening lately with regard to our food pantry and realized it's time to call them what they are.
God's intervention to bring about His purpose.
Each month, we spend a good deal of money purchasing food for The Pantry which serves almost 250 families.
But those funds come from somewhere. We don't have a line item in the main church budget. We are funded solely through donations, monetary and otherwise, from our congregation and other entities.
Every time God moves a human heart to willingly part with the thing that so easily ensnares so many of us, it's a miracle. In our humanness, we desire to hold on to that which we believe is our "hard-earned compensation." But the Spirit also places in us a desire to help our fellow man and that is a miracle because it goes against the natural.
It's easier to understand the congregation helping. They are more invested in the church since they attend it. But I think of the Jewish neighbor of one of our volunteers who, every few months, sends a nice-sized donation of goods to help others. Or one of the local apartment complexes who asks its residents to contribute to a collection they decided to hold. Or the company who over-ordered about 200 cookies for a meeting and decided to give them to our clients instead of their employees.
In the past week, we've received a "random" pallet of items that contained everything from granola bars to paper towels to bags of chips. A school more than 30 minutes away asked if we could use the 1,000 cans of food they collected, and 10,000 additional dollars will be coming in from a grant we applied for. The initial request was for $20,000, but we only received half because it was felt some of what was being requested did not fit the guidelines of the foundation. Two members of the board disagreed and went to bat on our behalf and the rest of the money will be given next month.
That my friends, is a miracle.
Sometimes we think miracles are things that used to happen. We read about them in the Bible and think they're too fantastic to believe. The flood, the whale, a fire that didn't consume a bush, another that didn't consume men, and still another that burned up everything including the altar, sacrifice and all the water on and around it.
And then there's the biggest miracle of all - God coming to earth in human form to become the ultimate sacrifice and close the gap of separation between us caused by our sin.
Although the biggest miracle happened more than 2000 years ago, it is not diminished and was not the last. As we go through this season, let's remember exactly why we celebrate it...and remember too that miracles still happen every day.
Healing from disease, the birth of a child, reconciliation between loved ones, the provision of needs for shelter, income, and yes, food.
We just need to call them by their proper name.
May you experience God's blessings and be attuned to the miracles He's doing all around you this Christmas and throughout the new year.