I don't mean, the miracle of rainbows and unicorns-farting-sparkles type New Age crap. I mean, real, actual miracles, of people being healed of cancer or rescued by a random stranger who vanishes without thanks.
Do you believe that sometimes, miracles happen?
I do. I've seen them.
Let's talk about "Eddie". I'd known Eddie for several years, and he had the worst limp you've ever seen. Actually, you'd have hesitated to call it a limp, because he had one leg a couple of inches shorter than the other, and walked with a 'roll' so bad that he couldn't carry a drink.
Eddie came to church one night, and the pastor prayed for him.
And I saw Eddies' leg 'grow out.'
I watched it happen.
(In actual fact, although we say 'his leg grew out', it's really that his back straightened and forced his legs into alignment for the first time in many many years. It's just easier to say.)
No-one yanked on him or performed chiro. He sat in a chair with his feet up on another chair, and the pastor quietly prayed for him with his hand on Eddies' shoulder, and over about a minute, Eddie's legs aligned so that when he stood up, he walked without that awful roll. He's been without it ever since, and that was at least 10 years ago.
In the church that I used to go to, a crooked back is associated with bitterness and unforgiveness. If you have back pain or a limp etc, you'll always be asked if there's someone you harbour bitterness toward, and you'll be asked to pray to forgive that person. Most people find that really difficult, because we don't have a very good understanding of 'forgiveness'. It doesn't mean, 'you were right to do what you did'. It means, 'I choose to let go of this'.
And I've seen it work, time after time -- though Eddies' case was a bit more dramatic than most!
Now, whether you think that was the power of God, or the power of self, or even some amazing kind of sleight-of-hand physio trick, the miracle is still real. People healed of back-pain are genuinely amazed and so so grateful.
A man I know who was diagnosed with lung cancer came up for prayer week after week, until one day when he told us he'd just had tests showing his lung cancer had now been downgraded to pneumonia.
A woman I know had scans done which proved, beyond doubt, that her unborn daughter had spina bifida and might not survive birth. After months of prayer, the baby was born, healthy and with no spina bifida.
Another man, who we'll call Nigel, was involved in a serious mining accident, his legs crushed by a rock the size of a large dining room table. X-rays showed that he would never walk again. There was talk of amputation.
A prayer chain was set in action, with literally hundreds of people who I don't even know praying for Nigel. On the operating table, they found his legs badly broken but no-where near as bad as the X-rays had shown. It took him a long time to recover but he's working in mining again and apart from some serious scars, you would never know anything had ever happened to his legs.
These might be put down to medical errors, but let me tell you, everyone of those people regards
their story as a genuine miracle.
I'll tell you another little story about Nigel -- after he'd recovered, he came out to church one night. Our pastor called him out to the front to pray for him -- and keep in mind that this isn't one of those American evangelical churches where people get pushed over.... -- the Pastor put his hand up ready to put it on Nigels' head -- but hadn't yet touched him, when Nigel was literally hit by something.
He staggered backwards, his arms windmilling, and almost fell. With no-one touching him.
He shook his head, and stepped forward again, and it happened again. Three times.
And no-one had touched him.
Something happened to Nigel that night, and I saw it. He didn't convert, he's still the same cheeky ratbag he's always been, but something happened. He was touched by something. Or someone.
I know there are charlatans everywhere who take advantage of our desperation, our gullibility, our needs. They promise healing, riches, the deepest desires of our hearts.
But I still believe that there are genuine miracles performed every day. And whether they come from God or from within ourselves, they're still pretty amazing.
Just ask Nigel.