Small Miracles

The Bible is a record of God's relationship with His Creation, and in particular mankind. It was compiled by writers chosen by God and inspired by the Holy Spirit. It is not an all-inclusive account reporting every nuance of every aspect of the Creator's every act involving everything He created. Nor could it be.

The Apostle John informed us that there likely would not be sufficient space in all the world to hold the books (scrolls) that would be filled by reports of the things Jesus did just during the few years of His active ministry.

And there are also many other things which Jesus did, the which, if they should be written every one, I suppose that even the world itself could not contain the books that should be written. Amen.-- John 21:25

Making allowances for what may be the writer's understandable use of hyperbole, John's words point to the fullness and complexity of Jesus' interaction with the Hebrew peoples in a limited span of time amounting to only about three years. How much more space would be necessary to record everything concerning God's involvement with Creation up to this moment in time?

Though the biblical record of God's relationship with Creation is far from complete, it does provide a general history of His chosen people, the Jews. The Scriptures also include God's revelation of those things necessary for salvation.

The Christian Bible includes many prophecies, some fulfilled in Jesus Christ and some yet to be fulfilled. It abounds with records of God-wrought miracles that glorify the Lord and validate His Incarnate Son and many of the prophets. Some of these miracles are so prodigious that they could only have been of God, such as that worked through the agency of Elijah (1 Kings 17-18), or the parting of the Red Sea (Exodus 14). One of Jesus' miracles – the only one reported in all four Gospels – was the feeding of the 5000 with just five loaves of bread and a two small fish (John 6:5 et seq.)

One great miracle that clearly demonstrated God's sovereignty over all Creation occurred when He halted the sun to allow additional time for Joshua and his men to slaughter the Amorites:

Then spake Joshua to the LORD in the day when the LORD delivered up the Amorites before the children of Israel, and he said in the sight of Israel, Sun, stand thou still upon Gibeon; and thou, Moon, in the valley of Ajalon. And the sun stood still, and the moon stayed, until the people had avenged themselves upon their enemies. Is not this written in the book of Jasher? So the sun stood still in the midst of heaven, and hasted not to go down about a whole day. And there was no day like that before it or after it, that the LORD hearkened unto the voice of a man: for the LORD fought for Israel-- Joshua 10:12-14

A sidebar to this report, if you will. According to this account which, having been written under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, must certainly be factual, God caused the sun and the moon to halt their apparent progress across the skies and to stand still so that Israel might have light for the work they were about. We cannot know from this account whether the sun and moon suspended movement along their respective orbits, or if perhaps the earth simply stopped rotating. It doesn't really matter, for as anyone who has received even rudimentary teaching concerning the nature of the universe and/or simple physics must know, the occurrence of either event would cause utter chaos throughout the universe. Chaos, that is, unless the Creator and Sovereign Lord of the universe intervened.

Not to be outdone by Almighty God, Catholicism's principle deity, the Catholic Mary, is said to have worked an even more prodigious miracle at Fatima some years ago. According to Catholic fantasy-as-doctrine, she not only briefly paused the apparent east-to-west transit of the sun in the skies over a small part of Portugal in the area of Fatima, but actually set the star to presenting a light show that involved changing colors and aerial acrobatics. As an added touch, she also dried all the clothes of witnesses who had been standing in the rain.

It should be mentioned that no one other than those who had gathered for the regularly-scheduled Marian apparition were witnesses to this event.

In the article Joe Nickell throws commonsense cold water on the Fatima claims. "We know for a fact that the sun did not dance or pulsate at Fatima. How do we know this? Fatima does not have a different sun than the sun that's in Chicago , or the sun over Paris. It's the same sun. And astronomers know that the sun on that date did not do anything out of the ordinary." Nickell explains that the witnesses "did do out-of-the ordinary things, like staring at the sun", which would explain the visions and colors. As far as Lucia's claims go, Nickell believes that she "suffers from what psychologists call "fantasy proneness"." Nickell notes that, long before the Virgin Mary spoke to her, Lucia had imaginary playmate angels." CSICOP in the News, June 9, 2000, © Committee for the Scientific Investigation of Claims of the Paranormal

In this paper, I have no intention of going any more deeply into the Catholic Church's heretical attempts to establish herself as Judaism fulfilled or her blasphemous efforts to raise the Catholic deity Mary to a position equal to or greater than that of Almighty God. Rather, I want to discuss small miracles, the kind that God works every day, if we have but eyes to see them. In particular, I am going to report what I believe to be one of those small miracles, which I believe to be but a link in a chain of such blessings.

A couple of years ago, I had occasion to take my wife to visit relatives in a small town in northern Mexico. It is a relatively short drive of only 220 miles, though it takes about four-and-a-half hours, due to stops at both borders. We set out very early on Saturday morning, hoping to arrive at our destination before the hottest part the day was upon us. On this drive, as on most such trips, we used our GMC Suburban, taking assurance from the safety the massively-built vehicle provides. The vehicle is equipped with top-of-the-line Michelin tires, for the same reason. (N.B. My mention of these trade names does not constitute an endorsement by anyone associated with the Proclaiming The Gospel Ministries. It is merely a statement of my personal preferences.)

Our journey along the smooth Texas highway system was uneventful, though our spirits were somewhat dampened by the dryness of the countryside occasioned by the scarcity of rain thus far this year. Then, when we were 25 or so miles from Eagle Pass, cruising along at about 70 MPH, we passed, in quick succession, three vehicles that had been pulled off the road in order that their operators might change blown tires. As my wife and I commented on the number of blown tires, there was a muffled explosion, followed by an exciting moment or two as I brought the big truck under control and pulled off the highway onto the emergency lane. My left rear tire had blown!

Before we had come to a complete stop. A car pulled over and stopped ahead of us on the emergency lane. My first thought was that the occupants of the other car were simply curious and wanted to see what I would do. I climbed out of the truck and walked around to remove the spare tire from its perch.

I noticed that a man was walking toward me from the direction of the car that had stopped ahead of me. He was a young man, in his early 40's I should estimate. When he came up to me, he made no pleasantries but simply said, "Let me take care of that for you."

I thought he was talking about lifting out the tire, which is something of a task. I thanked him and said that the hoist in the truck that I use to raise and lower the electric scooter I used then (which I had not brought on this trip) would be able to put the heavy spare tire on the ground. He would have none of it, so I went around to the driver's side rear door to remove the vehicle's jack and tire-changing tools from their resting place in the fender well armrest.

In order to raise a Suburban, it is necessary to place the jack under the rear axle housing, a procedure that involves lying down on the roadway (for me, at least) and scooting the jack into position. As I laboriously lowered myself to the pavement, the man stopped me and again admonished me that he would "take care of it."

And so I stood by watching as that kind stranger labored and sweated in the increasingly hot South Texas sun. When he had finished changing the tire, he put the blown one in the back of the truck and stowed the jack and its accessories in their proper places.

Grateful as I certainly was, I offered this Good Samaritan a cold drink from our ice chest. He refused. I tried to hand him a cash token of my appreciation, suggesting he use it to buy lunch. He would have none of it. He did accept my heartfelt thanks and blessing. At that, he drove off with a friendly wave of his hand.

Why would I regard the above event as miraculous, even if only a little? Certainly, it falls far short of the definition of a miracle provided by one of my Catholic dictionaries:

MIRACLE In a broad sense, it is an extraordinary thing which calls attention and excites wonder. St. Augustine, speaking from a subjective viewpoint, calls the miracle a difficult and unusual happening, above the power and the expectation of the observer, whose possibility and realization has been prepared by God. St. Thomas rightly adds the objective notion of an extraordinary intervention of God, and defines (Summa Theol., I, q. 110, a. 4): "A miracle is that which is done by God outside the order of all created nature." The theologicans explain and specify this definition: (a) done by God as principal cause—He may use any creature as instrumental cause; (b) done in the world; (c) outside or above the natural order, i.e., in a way superior to the forces of all nature; (d) outside or above, but not against the natural order, because the miracle is not a violation of the laws of nature but an exceptional happening brought about by a special, divine power that intervenes in created things, producing an effect superior to their natural power.

The possibility of the miracle rests chiefly on the absolute dominion of God as first and free cause of the universe, whose laws are subordinate to Him and cannot limit either His freedom of action or His power. Only the absurd and the sinful are impossible to God.

A miracle may surpass the power of nature's forces (a) as regards the substance of the event, e.g., the resurrection of the flesh; (b) as to manner, e.g., certain instantaneous cures. Finally, some miracles are the object of faith and thus are outside the order of sense experience; others are external happenings or facts, tangibly evident, and are intended by God to prove a truth of faith. It is these last that the Vatican Council (sess. III, c. 3, DB, 1790) calls: "Most certain signs of divine revelation—signs adapted to the intelligence of everyone. – Pietro Parente et al, Dictionary of Dogmatic Theology, (c) The Bruce Publishing Company (1951), p. 188 (has Imprimi potest, Nihil obstat & Imprimatur)

If that Catholic definition, which is a pretty good one, is difficult to grasp, a dictionary offers these more basic definitions:

1 : an extraordinary event manifesting divine intervention in human affairs
2 : an extremely outstanding or unusual event, thing, or accomplishment
—"moracle", Miriam-Webster's Collegiate Dictionary, 10th Ed., © 1993 by Merriam-Webster, Incorporated

So, the reader might ask, what's so miraculous about a guy changing a tire? Perhaps nothing, though I believe otherwise. Anytime I set out on a trip, by automobile or some other conveyance, I begin my journey in prayer, asking our Lord to watch over and protect us, to set angels about us to keep us safe as we travel. Before leaving, I ask Christian friends to pray God grant us a safe passage to and from our destination.

As a Christian, I know that God hears our prayers—receiving them directly without the need of any interceding spirit, as is the Catholic way. And I believe that He responds to our prayers, essentially in one of three general ways: by granting our petitions; by denying our petitions; or by telling us to wait a while and then try again.

Everything about my "little miracle" can be easily explained away. For example: I learned to drive at the automobile race track where my father managed the concessions, often driving the old jalopies that raced then and with tips from friendly drivers during practice days. Added to those skills are some 60 years of experience driving all around the USA and in a dozen or more foreign countries. One might argue that the foregoing easily explain how I was able to keep the heavy Suburban under control after the high-speed blow-out. And they might be right.

Then, too, the man's kind act was hardly out of place in South Texas farm and ranch country, where courtesy and kindness are as common as blue bonnets in the springtime. And that could be right.

Some might even argue that just about anyone, upon noticing my license plates, which indicate my handicapped status, would have done the same. They also could be right.

What leads me to think in terms of a miracle, albeit a tiny little one, is that similar kindnesses have been rendered to me four times since I became a Christian. Three times, a blown tire was involved—the combination of the hot Texas sun, newly-paved blacktop highways and sustained high speed is murder on tires. Each time, help was on hand before I had time to get out my spare tire. The first time, two young girls, all dressed up and headed for Eagle Pass, changed the tire for me. The second time, three construction workers braved rush hour traffic in Corpus Christi to do the work. The third event is recorded above. The fourth occasion involved a battery cable that self-destructed outside an Eagle Pass restaurant during the hottest hour of a Sunday afternoon in August. The asphalt pavement under the truck was so hot it was almost liquid, and the engine and exhaust pipe were as hot as an hour of driving in that heat could make them. As I stood at the pay telephone, searching the book for the phone number of a mechanic who would be willing to come out and make necessary repairs, a man dressed in his 'church clothes' walked up to me and told me that he would fix my truck. He fixed it, as my wife and his chatted in the shade, ruining his clothes in the process. When he left, he blessed us.

Looking at the above definitions, it would seem that none of the above qualify as miracles, though perhaps they might be shoe-horned into the category of "external happenings or facts, tangibly evident, and are intended by God to prove a truth of faith," or "an extraordinary event manifesting divine intervention in human affairs." I choose to believe that they do.

Why would God intervene repeatedly in the life of someone like me, and in such small ways? I cannot know the answer to those questions. However, I can speculate that, if for nothing else, that He might be glorified in them. His interventions, if that's what they were, would have been tangible proofs that He does hear and answer prayers of the faithful. Perhaps they were simply blessings. Whatever His reasons, I am thankful to Him for His actions and thankful to those whose prayers and labors sustained me.

God is glorified.

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