By Rachel Baker, Crosswalk.com
A couple weeks ago my husband and I joined some friends for a family mountain bike trip in Southern Utah. We packed up our cars and bikes and headed off for our adventure. We rode mesas, got really dirty, and had an incredible time.
On our drive home we took a night to camp at Cathedral Gorge in southern Nevada. We hiked and discovered this other worldly landscape. The next morning, we packed camp, loaded up our little SUV and hit the road. Just out of Cathedral Gorge my husband asked when the next gas station was and mentioned that we had over a half-tank for the next stretch.
I text our friends, who were in the car ahead of us, and let them know the situation; we all felt confident that we did indeed have more than enough gas.
Miles and miles of nothing later, that confidence began to fade. I had plugged the next gas station into our GPS, but as we crested mountain pass after mountain pass the reality sunk in: The likelihood that we were going to make it was becoming slim to none.
At one point I looked at our gas gauge to realize that the meter was below empty. My husband, stoic as he is, just gave an acknowledging look as if to say, “we’re not going to make it.” I wanted to panic, but knew that at some point our friends would figure out that we’d run out of gas and come back for us.
Nonetheless, the idea of sitting on the side of the road in the middle of nowhere didn’t sit well with either of us. We continued staring at the gauge, cruising up each pass and then coasting down in neutral.
Thanking Jesus for a Miracle
Quietly, in my head, I kept asking Jesus to get us just another mile further. My quiet prayers became a mutter and then without fully realizing it my muttering became fully vocalized. At first, I had asked God to get us to our destination and provide a gas station, but then suddenly the “ask” disappeared and I started thanking and praising God for every mile he gave us.
“Thank you, Lord Jesus,” I said out loud, “for getting us to a gas station. Thank you, Lord Jesus, for your protection and provision. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.”
It was so strange, at first, that I was thanking God for something he hadn’t even done yet. Nevertheless, I became fully confident that God was going to get us there. My fear became a wild confidence and humor. Even the kids got involved, “thank you God,” they said as we limped towards our destination, finally rolling in on less than fumes.
God did it, he provided, we did the math; we rolled in on vapors and the power of the Holy Spirit!
This funny experience has caused me to pause and take stock of my faith life. Sure, I believe in the resurrected Christ. I believe that he has washed me clean, forgiven my sins and redeemed my life. I believe that my eternity is secure in him.
I believe in the miraculous big things, but where is my faith when it comes to the little mundane “get you to the gas station” sort of miracles in life?
And for that matter, what about other miracles? Do I believe that God can and will heal the sick? Will he provide? Will he gather those who have lost faith in him back to his flock? Where is my faith then? Am I so willingly proclaiming gratitude and victory over what God is miraculously weaving in the background, or do I only have faith for the tangible?
If you’ve ever found yourself here, perhaps caught in a faith that has lost its whimsy, wonder and belief in miracles, maybe then you, just like me, need to press pause and evaluate who God really is: Here are a few simple suggestions to put you back on the path to believing in the wonderous ability of our great Savior.
1. Begin with a Posture of Gratitude
If our silly experience of running out of gas has taught me anything, it is to shift my posture of cynicism to a posture of gratitude. I tend to be a pretty critical and analytical person. I often rationalize what I can understand and even what I can’t. I want everything to fit into a tidy little box where I can make sense of it all. This can lead me to control, to unfairly judging people, situations, and even what God will and won’t do.
“Oh, you of little faith,” I’ve been convicted. This judging attitude can shrink our faith and cause us to expect God to work within the box in which we’ve placed him. This is just not the nature of God. So, rather than leaning into criticism, what if instead we pressed hard into a spirit of gratitude? What would happen in each of us believers if we replaced our small faith with big praise?
Something unexpected happens internally when we break out of our own limiting beliefs and begin to praise God for the work he is doing behind the scenes. The miracle may not manifest in the limited way that we may want or expect it to; regardless God is moving in people and in situations in ways that we cannot fully comprehend.
Perhaps an additional miracle is our heart’s shift toward praise, our attitudes of trust and our relinquish of control while we sit in the discomfort of the wait.
2. Become Expectant and Full of Anticipation
During the time of Jesus’ ministry and the emergence of the early church, followers and converts to the movement “the way” had likely witnessed or experienced the miraculous nature of Christ first-hand.
People, just like you and me, physically saw the resurrected Christ, experienced the pouring out of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost, and received miraculous healing.
Two-thousand some years later, maybe it feels a touch foolish to be anticipating miracles. Maybe we have rationalized that God no longer chooses to move in that way. Or maybe, if you’re like me, you’ve never really believed in miracles in the first place—they’ve just felt too far off or far-fetched.
I am learning to shift my expectations of what God can and will and chooses to do. In some ways, I think that elements of my faith had become dry and tasteless, missing out on the rich flavor of God’s incredible vastness. As I’ve begun expecting God to move in unexpected ways I’ve become excited and overwhelmed with anticipation.
There is a certain situation in my life where I am asking God for a miracle. I’ve spent years begging him for breakthrough. In the past few weeks I’ve stopped begging him and have begun thanking him. I am so excited for what he is doing and what he is going to do in that situation.
It might not look like what I think it should look like, but I know my God is mighty to save and that he is orchestrating miracles beyond measure! Let’s get excited friends, God is doing a good work.
I love the story of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, from the book of the Daniel. Their lives were on the line and yet their faith proclaimed a belief that God would do something incredible and miraculous, but here is the moment that their really hits my heart, they said, “but even if he does not, we want you to know, Your Majesty, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up” (Daniel 3:18).
Look, the reality is that God may not provide the miracle in the way that we want or expect it. Maybe the miracle isn’t enough gas to get us to a gas station, but a friend who won’t leave us behind. What if the miracle isn’t healing but rather a peace that transcends human understanding.
Perhaps the miracle isn’t provision of financial assistance, but instead an employment opportunity.
The fact is, that God is always working in the background. He is moving, he is powerful, and sometimes—or perhaps most of the time—the work he is doing isn’t visible to our eyes. Nevertheless, let’s press into a faith big enough to move mountains, restore vision and redeem the broken.
Our God is so very good. As it is written in the book of Luke, “What is impossible with man is possible with God” (Luke 18:27).
Photo Credit: ©GettyImages/torwai
Rachel Baker is the author of Deconstructed, a bible study guide for anyone who feels overwhelmed or ill-equipped to study the word of God. She is a pastor’s wife and director of women’s ministries, who believes in leading through vulnerability and authenticity. She is a cheerleader, encourager, and sometimes drill-sergeant. She serves the local church alongside her husband, Kile, in Northern Nevada. They have two amazing kiddos and three dogs. Rachel is fueled by coffee, tacos and copious amounts of cheese. For more on her and her resources to build your marriage, see her website: www.rachelcheriebaker.com or connect with her on Instagram at @hellorachelbaker.