It happened that when Zack was serving as God’s priest and his cohort was on duty his number came up (as was the custom of his order) to take a turn to burn incense in the sanctuary while all the people gathered to pray outside. And while he was in there, one of God’s messengers appeared to him next to the altar of incense. Zack was terrified, shaking in his shoes, when he saw the messenger. But the messenger said, “Don’t be afraid, Zack.” God has heard your prayers, and your wife Liz will have a son. When he’s born, you must name him John. You’ll be so happy! And so will many other people be glad, too, because he’s going to do great things for God. He must never drink anything alcoholic. Even before he’s born he’ll be a special spirit. He’ll bring a lot of Israel’s people back to God. He’ll go in the spirit and power of Elijah, so that parents are reconciled to their children and the wayward will return to their senses. He’ll get the people ready to meet God.”
But Zack said the the messenger, “How can I know that you’re telling me the truth? Look, I’m old and my wife is no spring chicken either.”
The messenger answered, “I’m God’s man! I know God personally, and I’ve been sent with this great news for you. But since you’re unwilling to believe me without proof, even though what I say is as good as done, your proof is that you will be mute until the day it all happens.”
What would you say if your prayers were suddenly, against all odds, answered?
Would you, like Zack, wonder whether it was really too good to be true? After all, we’re often told, “If something’s too good to be true it probably is.”
Would you, like Zack, be shaking in your shoes, but still, somehow, have the courage to talk back to the messenger of the good news? And what would you say?
Would you, like Zack, be so stymied by it that you couldn’t say anything at all?
Would you believe it? And would you live your life differently because of it?
Here’s my hunch. Things happen. Even a lot of wonderful but improbable things happen. All the time. People make unexpected recoveries from serious illnesses or injuries. People who haven’t been able to have children have them. People win the lottery. People land their dream jobs. People sometimes get a gift certificate or cash in the mail at a moment when they really need it. All this happens. People call them miracles.
But they’re not really miracles. They’re just improbable things that happen. They only become miracles when they change the people they happen to for the better. If they go back to living life as they always lived it, it’s just an unlikely thing that happened. If they don’t believe it enough to use what happened to make any difference, it’s just an occurrence.
That’s my hunch. But maybe you’ve experienced a miracle. What was it like? How did it change you? How will your miracle, like the announcement of John’s birth, change the world?