i believed in…

i believed in miracles cartoon drawn by nakedpastor david hayward

I remember publishing this post, “I’ve Never Seen a Miracle”, and it wasn’t long after that I felt it was time to leave the ministry. A pivotal time in my life.

It’s difficult but liberating to admit the facts.

For some real heart-to-heart sharing over this issue, join the rest of us over at davidhayward.

Purchase the original drawing or buy a print of this cartoon

About David Hayward

David Hayward runs the blog nakedpastor as a graffiti artist on the walls of religion where he critiques religion… specifically Christianity and the church. He also runs the online community The Lasting Supper where people can help themselves discover, explore and live in spiritual freedom.

  • Rev. Eric Brotheridge

    Wasn’t it Emile Zola who, while pondering the miracles wrought by Lourdes, wondered why there were no wooden legs in the midst of the pile of crutches at the side of the road?

  • http://rallyingcos.wordpress.com/ MLE

    I was present at a time recently when a family member in a group of five of us said a prayer which included several comments about God being all powerful, creator of the universe, etc. and asking for God’s intervention (in this case, it would be a miracle) in a family matter. It doesn’t work for me anymore. If God is all powerful, then why are children sexually preyed upon, turned into soldiers, etc.? God could stop that, but allows it? Sometimes people cry out, plead with God for these things to stop, but they don’t.

    I’m not sure I want God to fulfill the requests made by my family member, but not the prayers of others to stop much worse things. Sometimes I think I’d rather believe in a God that doesn’t “answer” prayers than a God that gives me what I want for me and mine and lets children be raped or forced into drug habits and used as weapons of war.

    My prayer is no better and less important than the prayer of the parent who asks that their child will not die of starvation, that they will not linger in hunger for their entire life.

    Gosh, hadn’t put it in words before, but I’m not sure I believe in them anymore either.

  • http://nakedpastor.com nakedpastor

    thanks MLE. wow.

  • greggmac

    I’m curious if you think that because you haven’t seen one you came to the conclusion that they don’t happen.

  • Chuck Jarvis

    Yeah. I mostly adjusted my definition of miracle if want to use the word anymore. It is not necessarily act of God. I think AWARENESS of being is “miracle”.
    Before i kept having to think and cry “God is not a very good witness to Himself” and He has so many opportunities. So,maybe Everything is trying to teach me something.

  • Richard

    I know a couple who couldn’t have children, was prayed to God for (specifically Jesus). Not long afterwards the lady was found to be pregnant.

  • Gary

    Richard…how about a few more details.

  • Kayte

    Richard; that is truly wonderful for them, but as a woman who has struggled with infertility for over 6 years of no help at all to me? What am i do to with that? Do i assume God loves me less? That my prayer is less powerful? That my life and devotion to God less holy? Or something else? Did this woman issue a magic form of words in her prayer? If God Father – Son – Spirit are one and the same would her prayer have been less efficacious if she had prayed to her Heavenly Father or the Spirit, or just ‘God?’ Does a term of address affect if God hears and responds to a prayer? Or has God turned his back on me?

    I would answer ALL of the above with a resounding NO!

    I don’t know why I can’t have kids, no platitudes or faux spiritual ‘explanations’ required. It’s a fact, it can’t be explained, but somehow I have to trust that God is God and loves me anyway.

  • Richard

    Hi Gary. I’m a skeptic. You have to show me. You also have to take what others tell you as true.
    I wish I could expand on it but this blog is observed by many, including the couple I mentioned. I will say they now have 3 children. So you could say all 3 are miracles. I do.
    I have to agree with much of what has been said about the devastation in this world and the use and abuse of children and people in general.
    I believe this…that God is far bigger than we can think and loves us far more than we know.

  • http://nakedpastor.com nakedpastor

    I guess I should jump in here. The couple and the lady Richard is referring to is me and my wife Lisa. It took us 7 years before we could have kids. The last 5 were the worst because we went through a slew of tests and operations… all seemingly to no avail. Lisa cried a lot. One time at a family gathering there was talk about kids and Lisa started crying. Some family members prayed for Lisa and me. Within a year our Joshua was born. Two more followed… Jesse and Casile.

    I don’t know what to say about it. Whenever anyone asks if there was anything like a miracle in our life, that’s the closest I can get. When I tell the story some say, “That’s a miracle!” Others say, “The medical procedures finally worked!” Some others say, “Wow. Interesting.” At the same time I know the incredible complications and mysteries of infertility, barrenness and pregnancy. I don’t know if it was a miracle. I’m not dismissing it. Not at all. But I seriously hesitate to call it a miracle. In fact, I don’t. Exactly for Kayte’s reasons. We have lots friends who can’t have kids. It’s sad and complicated. Some of them pray for a miracle. Others don’t. But they all go through the same battery of tests and operations we did. Some go further and go invitro fertilization… something we didn’t do. One friend of ours did that and got pregnant and has a child now. Some call it a miracle. Some call it science. Some call it “it’s about time!” I have another friend who’s convinced it’s her newly discovered intolerance for gluten that’s the problem. It’s just a maze of mystery!!

    That whole season was mysterious. And there are factors involved that no one will ever know or understand. Was it a miracle? I don’t say it was. But I’d never say to Joshua that it wasn’t. All our kids are miracles. My whole life’s a miracle… one long sadly joyful miracle.

    Kayte: I hear what you’re saying. Keep saying it. I appreciate your voice.

  • Gary

    Hi Richard thanks for the reply. I too am a skeptic. I am a believer…but have seen so many “claimed” yet false miracles that I have opened my eyes to the damage of false claims. I believe making such claims promotes a childish (not to be confused with childlike) faith and opens the door for much unneeded anguish and anger at God when sincere prayers are not answered.

    I also have experience with the claim of a miracle childbirth. My sister and her husband were unable to conceive for several years and now have 5 children. My father claimed it was a miracle of God (I believe all childbirth is) because he prayed for them. Of course I have also known wonderful Christian couples who prayed for the same thing faithfully for years and never conceived. Further complicating these types of miracle claims is the fact that non-believing couples have problems conceiving all the time, often told they will not be able to have kids, and then they do.

    I totally agree that God is bigger and that He loves us more than we know. I do not believe this makes Him our genie in a bottle however.

  • Gary

    Kayte, I love your post. Your questions state it so much better than I could. Your “resounding NO” I believe represents the mark of great maturity.

  • ylenia

    well, altho I understand and relate to many of the sentiments written here, I have to also share that I have witnessed miracles and many of them, in my life and others. Some of them are easy to explain away some not so much. So here goes sharing one:
    I had just finished hearing of a lady that opened up a shelter for children and any time provision for food or something else was needed she simply prayed “father, we need food. Amen.” and it always came. I found myself longing for that kind of relationship, where I didnt have to carry the weight of my own self, but could release it to a person, a net that was always underneath me.

    My relationship with God a that time was intimate and highly fulfilling, (though quite at odds with what was taught at the churches I attended then) , not something I can say of the years after that… but living in economic security I had never been in a place where my kitchen pantry was empty. So that night as I went to bed, God spoke to me very clearly, in that charming, intimate voice that knows you completely and sets you free. What was said was something personal, but at the end of the conversation (and yes I realize saying God spoke to me carries a lot of baggage but clarifying that issue is beyond this point). At the end of the conversation I said, I will choose this (something we had spoken about) if you prove yourself to be my financial provider througha miracle that comes to me in a way I cant explain away (for ex. a family member helps me out). This was Friday night, on Sunday mom walks in (I was in madrid, Spain visiting my parents) and asks me to go with her to a church service where people prayed for each other after the service. This was one of the few compeltely selfless acts Ive had in my life, because the very thought of spending hours inside four concrete walls in a stiff church service were akin to drinking rat poison.
    The theology preached was nothing near the Christ Life I had experienced. To make along story short, I stood at the corner of this auditorium type room at the end of the service, while my mother stood amongst the crowd receiving prayer. My hands were folded and I was looking at the clock, , but wanting to patiently wait, I knew in my mothers world, this was something she needed, it was where she was at. All of a sudden the pastor turns around and says to my mother “the Lord just told me to take up an offering for you, so anyone feels moved to bless her financially do so” People start lining up and placing money in my mothers hands. ALl of a sudden the pastor turns around and looks around the room almost frantically and his eyes lock down on me and he shouts “wait a minute! Its not for you (my mother) its for you (me)! The Lord is saying this is for the prayer on Friday night.” Then he turned to his assistant and said, “go pull out 300 euros from the cash register and place them in her hands.” Mind you I had never been to this church in my life. The Holy Spirit fell and lots of other things happened. A year and a half later as I travlled the globe in search of my own inner freedom in God, there were times when “the pantry” was empty and simple conversations with Father brought provision. I can mention several examples of times when the metaphysical world has intervened into what I consider to be the hologram reality. I myself have gone through seasons of meaninglessness (ecclesiastes) and horrible trauma or loss (Job) but I although life has not been the way i would have defined it, that does not mean miracles don’t exist. Considering the substantial amoutn of witness throughout history concerning miracles, both from those within christianity and without, to state as fact they dont exist is.I dont know…I dont agree with that.
    I never took issue with the existenc o not of miracles, o defining the word, I took issue with the lack of peace within my heart of living in a world so backwards, and riddled with injustice and pain….populated by the walking wounded. Miracles themselves can be helpful as guides to a greater reality, but they in themselves are not answers.
    as hard as the last four years have been of a spiritual dark night, I would encourage people that in the midst of pain or disappointment in God, they remain open to the transformation of that pain (like the story of the phoenix) as opposed to finding indentity in that pain and defining the whole of existence throughout it.
    We are receiving nothing that all others have not received and that is the point at which the illusion of the ego life crumbles. anyhow, this was a long long rant. Lots of feelings in there.

  • ylenia

    ps. A small addition to this if you all will bear with me.

    My people perish for lack of wisdom.

    That verse has resonated and created a long quest in search for answers from me. What katye wrote, well its heartbreaking and yes I have been there deeply.

    Recently at the counselling trainign I was at a little girl adopted from nicaragu was brought in by desperate christian parents. She would sit for hours cutting up paper into x’s and threw violent tantrums. Her parents had taken her to countless deliverance ministries to be delivered from “demons”. Very quickly the laady I worked with identified the little girls problems as lack of bonding as a baby. She didnt bond. The girl healed within a few months and is now functional.

    I also help people with nutritional issues concerning fertility, and often fertility issues from a purely physical point of view, have to do with the bastardization of nutrition through industrialization and over processing of the food supply driven by greed.

    Basic fat soluble vitamins, minerals etc, whatever, almost completely lacking from the food supply. I deal with clients on a daily basis suffering from teh consequences of an entire society driven by consumerism, commodity, laziness and the bottom line. Why we pray and God seems so silent, I dont know…I have no idea, but going through that myself nearly killed me….but I do believe there are many more answers, anyway. So a human is a composite whole of a spiritual being outside of time and space, a soul (heart, mind and emotions) and a physical being in a symbiotic relationship with the surrounding environment and there can be a myriad of reasons as to why something happens.

  • http://hausdorffbb.blogspot.com Hausdorff

    powerful stuff. I don’t always completely get your comics, but I found this one pretty intense.

    I recently wrote about miracles as well

    http://hausdorffbb.blogspot.com/2012/08/its-miracle.html

  • http://theoldadam.com/ Steve Martin

    God lets it all happen.

    Does He heal? Maybe. Maybe not. One person in the hospital room goes home, and the other goes to the morgue. Both have prayed to the same God.

    I think God’s focus in Christ Jesus is on the life to come. He does (has) healed us by His own death and resurrection. And He gives that healing to us through trust. Through faith in Himself.

    We’re all going to have to face death in this life. But that death is not the final word.

    We can no more forestall our own death, than we can forestall our own sin.

  • http://theoldadam.com/ Steve Martin

    By the way…here’s a good one for the anti-religion crowd:

    http://theoldadam.com/2012/08/21/prostitutes-will-enter-the-kingdom-of-heaven-before-preachers-do/

    Enjoy :D

  • Liza

    I have heard Atheists say that they can’t believe in a God that allows children to be raped. I am not against Atheists, let me make that clear, and I can even understand why they would think that way. I just want to say something about that statement.

    I have been searching for what God’s word means in Hebrew since that is the original language. I wanted to know what the truth is about Sodom and Gomorrah, so I looked into it. No matter what Hebrew lesson I read about it, the story is always the same. They were destroyed for not taking care of others; basically they were selfish, self-centered greedy people. They mistreated the poor and strangers, something God is definitely against. You will find many, many scriptures regarding the treatment of the poor.

    So, they were judged for the way they treated others. This means that we are going to be held accountable for our actions. This ties into the scripture of the separation of the goats and sheep by Jesus in the time of the great judgement. He said, did you clothe me, visit me in jail, etc.

    God’s people aren’t supposed to just “pray it away”, expecting God to just be a genie *poof*, “whatayaneed?” We are supposed to be ready and able doers of his word. Jesus was more concerned for the beggars, theives, prostitutes and other sinners then he was with anyone else. He showed compassion. He taught that we are supposed to give what we have when we can. How many are actually doing this?

    Or how many would rather live a life of “prosperty”…as in “Look at this new car God blessed me with!” or “We finally got that house we have been praying for!” etc. What they don’t realize is that the things of this world can be gotten by anyone who makes the right amount of effort to get them. You don’t have to pray to get them and having them is not a sign that you are at some wonderful level of spirituality. They are like the people of Sodom and Gomorrah.

    I am limited, being a low-income disabled single mom, but whenever I have a chance I help someone out. I don’t worry about material things at all. I am always given things by other people. I don’t ask for them. Like, couches for example. They are not cheap. I have bought a couch only once. And we go through them! Kids can be so rough on furniture. We have even gone without, pulling a matress out to sit on. I believe the reason I am blessed to get one from someone all the time is because I don’t focus on that stuff. I am always helping others, and that is more important to me. God said that we aren’t supposed to worry about those things, so I don’t.

    The point is that God’s people are supposed to be making a difference, and they are slacking. When you hear a horrible story, don’t ask “Where is God?” Ask, instead “Where are his people?” It seems like his people are more concerned with other things, like making gay marriage illegal, then they are with helping the poor. I have always said that if we lived by what Jesus said, that we are to do unto others what we would have done unto us, that the world would be a better place.

  • http://rallyingcos.wordpress.com/ MLE

    It’s really hard to say to friends and family who have struggled and gone through terrible things like infertility or being sexually abused as a child, “Hey, God’s love for you and for all of creation is unconditional. God is all powerful. God can and does perform miracles.” The unspoken is, “God could have prevented you from being molested as an innocent and defenseless child, but didn’t, oh but God still totally loves you so much that you can’t even imagine it.”

    You know, I can’t imagine that kind of love. An unconditional, indescribable, love that can transform peoples lives with miracles and yet choose to not stop horrific things from happening. I guess that’s the part of the love and power and miracliness that’s incomprehensible.

    Are such ideas more harmful than helpful? Some get comfort from believing there is this almighty one who has everything working according to a plan and loves us beyond all measure. Some others, however, find such statements little more than platitudinal security blankets, ones which offer them very little warmth.

  • http://nakedpastor.com nakedpastor

    So someone just informed me that Todd Bentley (of the famous Lakeland Outpouring who uses force when he “heals” people) was refused admittance to the UK today: http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2012/aug/21/todd-bentley-refused-entry-to-uk

  • http://rallyingcos.wordpress.com/ MLE

    @Liza

    I agree with you when you say instead of asking “Where’s God?” ask, “Where are the people?” I think we are responsible for our actions and inaction when we see needs and suffering in the world and don’t act when we could.

    But sometimes the kind of miracle hoped for isn’t something humans can fix, (for example, my brother could be released from the confines of his cerebral palsy), or something we don’t even know is happening (in the situation of a person being physically assaulted with no other people around to intervene). In both those case, I would ask then, if we are to be held accountable for our actions, then why isn’t God held accountable for God’s actions? The actions of choosing to not intervene(working with under the assumption God could intervene.)

    If the attitude, “God said that we aren’t supposed to worry about those things, so I don’t.” worked for everyone, then no one, adults or children, would go hungry, and yet, we have people who die of starvation. Would worrying about that less have kept them alive? Hardly.

  • http://blog.desaba.net Happy

    We live in a broken world and whatever Grace God bestows on us is already a miracle. As for the MLE, if he is reading, I just want to say, again: the world is broken and man has free will. The atrocities we see every day cannot be attributed to God. It’s all our doing. “Shit” happens. Really bad shit. And it’s happened to me, my family and a lot of people I know. Yet God gives Grace. Always, Grace.

    As for miracles, I saw a miracle once. It happened to me, just as I asked. I believe God knew I needed a miracle to hold on to, for the future and the struggle it would hold for me.

    God, free from the constraints of religion and imposed Dogma is Creative Love, Comforting Love and a Refuge from all the madness that surrounds. I look around and see him everywhere. Everything is sacred. And yes, we can indeed find joy in this broken world.

  • Liza

    I was molested as a child by someone who was a “friend” of the family. I was also beaten by random girls for no reason, put into a dumpster, tied up in an abandoned rv by some sick teens who thought that was funny, almost raped by a man while walking down the street at the age of 17 but because I screamed he only made me jack him off (at knife point), almost raped at a friend of a friend’s house when we just dropped in for a minute, was impovershed growing up, even to the point where we didn’t have power in the middle of winter, had to sleep all in the same bed to stay warm and used our pantry as a refrigerator, lived (and I mean LIVED) with roaches for years no matter where we moved to, was a child during the time when we had our own civil rights movement here and went through a few horrible experiences at the time. I was hit by a car at 8 and hadn’t seen my dad since my mom left him in Cali when I was like 3. He showed up at the hospital when I was in my body cast. I didn’t even recognize him. When I did spend time with him he was abusive one way or another. My mom has problems, (I have gotten past this part of my life and forgiven her) so when we were children, we were neglected a lot. When schools started serving free breakfast, I was probably the most excited child in the world! I would get my brothers up early and take them to school with me just so we could have breakfast. Not a pleasant childhood, and that isn’t even everything I went through. I was a child, a victim. And I don’t regret any of it! I wouldn’t go back and change a thing! How many privledged people do you know who genuinely understand other people’s struggles? Who can, with all their heart and soul, give of themselves and make a difference? People who have had life easy can’t even begin to understand why a prostitute should not be arrested, but should be rescued. Not that I was ever in prostitution, but I know how molestation and rape can severly affect someone. These women need counseling, not jail. I never once asked, Where’s God? I even searched the scriptures, with no kind of religion in my life. I just wanted answers, comfort. I hated myself as a child. The first time I knew what Love actually felt like was at a Christian rock band concert. I was 18. I didn’t even know what a concert like that was. When they paused and said a prayer, I know what I experienced was real. I prayed that God would forgive my sins, I accepted that Jesus was the sacrifice for those sins, and I invited God into my heart. For the first time, this abused, neglected child, knew what love was! No one can tell me that it was just some desparate attempt at beleiving in something. If that were true I would have gotten that from the scriptures I was reading time and time again. Those scriptures were more like a bandaid because I didn’t have God in my life. My experiences are real. There are things that have happened that defy explanation except that there is more to life then we think. For anyone who doubts there is a God based on the bad things that happen, then how do you explain how the bad things happen? Is there no Satan then? Is life just some meaningless whirlwind of events? I have been through many fires with my faith. I have gone against Satan, face to face. I have been through many churches just to learn that I should have been on my own this whole time. That God would have shown me the truth about life. But I didn’t and now I fight every day to know the truth. I will not give up on God just because a lot of his people aren’t getting it…aren’t living the way he actually wants us to live. The Bible says to work out our own salvation with fear and trembling. That means, basically, that I am to focus on where I stand with God, not others. Not judge. Not force my beliefs. Only worry if I am doing what he wants me to do. I am a sinner saved by grace. That is all I am. God didn’t just wash away all of my pain, btw. I didn’t get some miracle pill that day when I prayed for him to come into my life. What I got was a friend that I can turn to. A counselor who suffered false accusations, took pain onto his own body in the form of a whip filled with all kinds of sharp metals and rocks. Someone who really cares about me. I became a Christian over 20 years ago. I have not lost faith, even though I have been through so much! The pain of my childhood is still there. My inner child is hurting every single day! If finding faith in God was just finding some kind of crutch, then why do I still hurt? But I’m not complaining. I don’t expect this pain to just go away. It’s taken this long to get where I am, which is further then I was in the beginning of my journey. I find the positive in my experiences. I believe my experiences help me to help others. That is what we are supposed to be doing as Christians.

  • http://blog.desaba.net Happy

    Bless you Liza, you have actually uttered in words, the definition of what some believe to be a “Joseph calling”. Joseph had it super rough (sold into slavery by his family, imprisoned, falsely accused) but it was only because his life was so excruciating that God was able to use him to the extent he did and raise him to the heights he did (Prime Minister of Egypt, so to speak). God can and will bring purpose to our pain. Our painful stories are interwoven with his will and we are broken and spilt for the good of others.

  • http://nakedpastor.com nakedpastor

    really, some of you should be over on http://davidhayward.ca

  • Liza

    ty Happy. Your comment made me cry. Really, the only time I feel like I’m OK is when I’m one on one with God. I never tell my story because it’s so personal and hard to talk about. I felt it was time to, though. It wasn’t easy and getting such a supportive comment is comforting, ty.

  • Liza

    I will register in about 10 days. No money atm because I have to get my kids prepared for school. But I definitely want to be a member on that site and have no problem paying for it. :)

  • Justin H

    A miracle is often labelled as such when we cannot explain for ourselves how the event occurred. There was a “faith healer” who performed “miracles” at a church in Back Bay, N.B. several years ago while my grandmother was still alive. I don’t go to this church now, but my grandmother made an extra effort (while still in her 90s) to go to this particular service. Some locals came up and stuff was done to them and the faith healer claimed the miracle had happened and the one trying to be healed seemed to think (s)he was indeed healed. My grandmother even proclaimed this news proudly to me afterwards, claiming she saw this happening in the church… although she was sitting in her usual 2nd last row from the stage, probably about 30 – 40 metres away from where the miracles were supposedly happening.

    It came as no surprise to me to hear a week later that the locals’ sufferings had returned, as if the devil had simply re-cursed them. Such miracles, if they ever do happen in reality, would clearly be miracles. However, the issue is that people are honestly expecting God to do this for them, as if He is obliged to do so. If we believe in God, then we believe in a greater authority over our lives and as such, we must be willing to accept that we cannot always get what we want.

    From another perspective, I agree that miracles are also not these “magical” events that happen out of nowhere, either. There are numerous miracles happening all of the time, but we have simply become accustomed to the regularly of them occurring that we no longer recognise them as being “special” enough to be labelled miracles. I believe one huge miracle is finally happening in the world that is getting people to integrate amongst each other, regardless of race, sex, religious belief, sexuality, cultural differences, etc. and that it is in this that more people are challenging what is understood of the world around us, our place in it, and how God works through all of it. I believe this is the case, especially when you consider how we created Christianity (NOT God) and the other religions and we formed many of our beliefs not on what God actually wants for us, but rather on what we, as humans, wanted for ourselves (which ended up resulting in the creation of sin).

  • http://rallyingcos.wordpress.com/ MLE

    So, David. I read your About page on your other website and I looked at the preview and everything, but I guess I don’t see a big difference other than the monthly fee. The idea sounds great, but isn’t it basically what happens on this page anyway? Attempts to argue, harass, or evangelize are discouraged here…so what’s the diff?

    I get that it makes business sense and I don’t fault you for that, you work for money to live on just like most people, and at $84 a year per person, that adds up to a nice chunk of money. I suspect there are many, like myself, whose spiritual support networks have eroded as they’ve left them, been excluded from them, etc. who would find the fee worthwhile if convinced there’s something meaningful happening in the big tent that we can’t see and join in on for free in the parking lot.

    (I know money is a dicey subject for people especially the money/ministry combo. Please do not take my honesty as an affront; it is certainly not meant as one.)

  • http://blog.desaba.net Happy

    I will pray for you Liza :) You have a Joseph calling. :) God will use that. Just love him as you are loving him… Bless your heart, it was pretty awesome to read you today.

    If you’re on FB, feel free to add me: http://www.facebook.com/hdelcanto

    David, I hope you don’t mind.

  • jeremy quiring

    I see this cartoon as a reflection of our “Western” lack of understanding and expectation about matters of the spirit. It’s kind of like we as a Western people have said to God, “Okay, we’ll take it from here” and, when things go wrong, He becomes our scapegoat. I don’t minimize pain and suffering and disappointment when prayer is unanswered, but I think we are making uneducated accusations against God without fighting our way into matters of spiritual laws, forces and significance. We like to keep it cerebral and in our control of understanding and human logic even at the cost of our own faith.
    I am especially guilty of this, but I don’t blame God because I have to be brutally honest about my own involvement and that of my society. I blame the more broad form of “us” for trying to pry control from God’s hands because we want to be like him. I blame pride and immaturity in myself for not seeing miracles as well as many who are around me. We set the tone for allowing God to work collectively, not individually.

  • Liza

    Jeremy, awesome prespective on this issue. I’m glad you contributed because what you have added is worth considering. :)

    I will add you Happy. :)

  • ‘retta

    Wow, this cartoon and the replies hit a sore spot for me.
    I was raised Catholic, but didn’t know much about the Bible until, at the age of 28 and the mother of two, I became a “born again” Christian, and immersed myself in teachings (from the pulpit) about all of God’s “promises” to believers. I stood on some of those promises when my kids were sick, or when we had barely enough to buy food or pay bills, and saw God’s hand move to help us.
    Two more kids later, my husband was diagnosed with bone and liver cancer, related to his time in Vietnam. The diagnosis came in February. In July of the same year, our four-year-old son was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes (requiring multiple insulin injections daily). My husband died in September. During the seven months between diagnosis and death, we prayed, we stood on scripture, we spoke nothing but positive and healing and God’s word. Pastors and fellow believers laid hands on him, and our son, believing that there would be TWO miracles. Our family was devastated by the sequence of events, by being told “only have faith,” followed by the lack of intervention by God.
    When I met my second husband, he had stories of his own healing, of standing on God’s word and receiving restoration to health. I love him dearly, but this paradox has created intense doubt in me. When another son was diagnosed, at the age of 11, with type 1 diabetes as well, I almost fell apart. My husband was firm on believing for healing for both of my diabetic sons, but it never happened.
    I don’t know what to make of any of it. I believe in God, but that God is certainly not the same deity I was taught to believe in, not in Catholic school, not in any born-again church. I cringe when I hear anyone talking about having faith in healing, about God providing every need. I, too, wonder about all the parents who pray that there will be enough food for their children, or that they will be safe from harm, especially in impoverished and war-torn countries. When I hear a Christian say that God spared his/her life in a tragedy or disaster, I wonder why that same God didn’t see fit to spare the lives of those who died. Were they not good enough? Why weren’t they ‘blessed?’ Is that person saying that he was faithful enough to receive favor while those who died were not? Are they saying that no ‘true believer’ going through a hurricane, tornado, earthquake or similar devastation will lose his life if they have enough faith? When we say that we are blessed to live in a prosperous, free country, are we also saying that those born in a third-world country are less deserving of our blessings?
    I’m so tired of the duplicity. I’m tired of feeling as though I’m just not good enough for a ‘miracle,’ or God doesn’t love me as much as some of his favored children. I cannot believe in such a God, one who would discriminate and treat some kids better than others.
    And so my faith is in a Deity, but one that is in charge of some order in the universe, one that has sent numerous teachers to show us how to treat one another despite the deaf ear much of humanity has shown those teachers, a Deity that keeps trying to get us to see every other human as an equal.
    Genie in the sky? No. The Punisher? I don’t think so. Cold-hearted tyrant? I hope not.
    Miracles? I think the jury is still out.

  • http://nakedpastor.com nakedpastor

    Hi MLE: I appreciate your questions because it gives me the opportunity to explain. The other site is the same as a baseline. But it is also very very different. I share a lot more stuff on there. There are many posts that don’t appear here. I divulge more personal stuff that I simply can’t on this site. And others are encouraged to do the same. This community on nakedpastor is amazing and I love it. The community on davidhayward.ca is amazing too for different reasons. There is the absence of conflict and theologizing. It is intended to be strictly a supportive site. And that’s what it’s shaping up to be. I’m happy about that. I provide resources for people there to transition spiritually. I am also going to be offering hangouts and webinars that people can join from that community only. I also am looking forward to supporting ex-pastors, etc… So it is the same in some ways but different in many. The $7, against so much advice that I should go at least $19/month… is minimal. I know that’s difficult for some. I know financial difficulty. But I’m delivering the kind of value over there that requires, along with nakedpastor, 100% of my time, so I need financial support for it. Does that make sense?

  • http://nakedpastor.com nakedpastor

    of course i don’t mind Happy :)

  • http://nakedpastor.com nakedpastor

    Incredible retta, in a good way.

  • Beth

    I am at a place in my life where it is more comforting to believe in a god that doesn’t intervene. I’m not even sure what I believe about god these days, to be honest. But for me I receive no comfort from prayer or in hoping for miracles.

  • Beth

    retta – Thank you for sharing your story. I relate to what you say in so many ways. And, like you, some of the replies here hit a sore spot for me. I wish I could be someone who believes no matter what, but I just can’t and don’t.

  • ‘retta

    Beth – I felt compelled to share. Sometimes putting down, in words that you can re-read, helps you to figure out where you really stand, what you really believe. I used to be one of those people who “believes no matter what,” but I just can’t be that person anymore. All I can say to you is to continue your search. I do believe that there is divinity in each of us, and we need to try to see that in others, and develop it in ourselves. I guess that means to quit judging what we may not understand, to be forgiving, to seek the beauty and wonder of every moment, place, and creature. I’ve become less religious (or rather, non-religious), and much more spiritual. The miracles are right in front of us, every day, and they are the lives of people, the intellect we have, the instincts of animals (just observe our pets!), and the glory of nature. I don’t wait for, or ask for, the other kind. And yes, there is a peace in that.

    NakedPastor – I’m glad you think what I wrote is incredible (in a good way). It’s been a tough journey, but I know that there are some good things ahead. My biggest problem is that I have grown to love the beauty in this world so much that I don’t want to leave it! If I live to be 96, I am already through two-thirds of my life, and I intend to go out kicking and screaming, because I really do not want to die. i used to believe in the glory of an afterlife in heaven, but now I don’t know what I believe about life after death.
    Any thoughts on this?

  • http://nakedpastor.com nakedpastor

    whoa big one there ‘retta. about the afterlife… i see Life as continuous but how i don’t know. i like the theologian Barth who felt the Parousia was a revelation of what already is… not something new… but the way things are seen for what they are… and that’s heaven… that makes sense to me. but i’m like you: i don’t want to die. i have work to do, people to love and be loved by, and so much beauty to enjoy and make.

  • ‘retta

    *sigh*
    I believe life is a ‘miracle.’ And so is love. I’ve always thought that when I died, I’d be able to ask all the things I wanted to know while here……when I was a kid, I thought I’d ask why God made us with teeth that get cavities, as I hated going to the dentist =)
    But I find that all my beliefs were based on what’s in the Bible, and I don’t see that book the same way anymore, either. So my thoughts about the afterlife get all muddled.
    I’ll check out Barth. I’m always open to different theories; who knows, my answer may be there.
    Thank you!

  • http://nakedpastor.com nakedpastor

    haha ‘retta… Barth is not the kind of theologian you just “check out”… if you can find a collection of his best, that would be cool. he was a prolific writer. his theological treatise they call the white elephant because the white bound books take up so much space on the shelves… but i love him.

  • ‘retta

    Got it. Good thing I love to read, right?

  • http://nakedpastor.com nakedpastor

    yep!!!

  • Elderyl

    I see miracles often. I think one has to look for them. I also struggle with seeing the horrors that humans do to one another. I see the horrors as part of being in a fallen world. I cannot look at the world without seeing it through the lens of my theology, it is how I am wired. I’m very much of the Reformed tradition, but some of what I’ve experienced is outside of that. I’ve experienced mystical things and don’t know how to share them except to say that I do believe in heaven. My training is in science and art and maybe that gives a current view; A view that can see things in tension or paradox.

    When I look at David’s cartoon, I see my mom. I cared for her during her last five years of life when she was in a wheelchair. It was the hardest thing I’ve ever done. Five times during those years we were told she was dying. She and I didn’t believe it on that fifth, and final time. One of her last sentences was when she told me how much she loved me and how glad she was to have had that extra time. The time in the wheelchair was a miraculous time of love and patience and selflessness on everyone’s part. It was painful and trying, that didn’t diminish its miraculousness.

  • http://rallyingcos.wordpress.com/ MLE

    David, thanks for a clearer description of how the two sites differ. I applaud your attempt to keep the cost down to keep it accessible to people. I don’t think I’ll join for now, but I’ll keep it in my back pocket. It sounds like something that has a lot of potential to be a haven or harbor for weary and searching souls. I wish you and the other participants well in your discussions and as the website unfolds and develops.

  • Carol

    The greatest *miracle* is the change of a “heart of stone* into a “heart of flesh*; but that is a process that unfolds over time, so it often goes unnoticed.

    Along with the evolution of science from a rather simplistic linear Newtonian perspective to a less reductionistic chaos theory (which should really be called complexity theory) has come a new understanding of miracles. The term “perfect storm” (or clusterfuck) is the popular term for disastrous consequences when many factors come together to produce an effect; but there can be positive consequences or “miracles”, also. So “miracles” are not an interruption of the laws of nature; but more like beating the odds, which may (or may not) involve a Divine “nudge.” A miracle by its very definition is a rare occurance, so perhaps, even though we remain open to the possibility, it is probably wise not to count to much on them as a solution to the challenges of life.

    Miracles are not contrary to nature, but only contrary to what we know about nature.
    ~Saint Augustine

    “He who does not believe in miracles makes certain he will never take part in one.”
    – William Blake

    One should be realistic enough to believe in miracles. ~Gideon Levy, Israeli journalist and editor for the Haaretz newspaper

    We often think of great faith as something that happens spontaneously so that we can be used for a miracle or healing. However, the greatest faith of all, and the most effective, is to live day by day trusting Him. It is trusting Him so much that we look at every problem as an opportunity to see His work in our life. –Rick Joyner

    “To everyone is given the key to the gates of heaven.The same key opens the gates of hell.”
    – Richard Feynman

    What would you see? The choice is given you. But learn and do not let your mind forget this law of seeing: you will look upon that which you feel within. If hatred finds a place within your heart, you will perceive a fearful world…. If you feel the Love of God within you, you will look out on a world of mercy and of love. –A Course in Miracles

  • http://blog.desaba.net Happy

    In John 16.33, Christ says, “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”

    Awful things will occur. My father went bankrupt and died 6 months later leaving my mother, brother and I in absolute poverty. I had to start working at 17 to support my family (along with my mother, a once-wealthy woman who put work clothes on and began working as a maid in other people’s houses to help her children). My mother later got Cancer (probably all the sorrow). I’ve seen my fair share of brokenness. And I went through a period that lasted almost ten years, where I was angry at the universe (I didn’t want to acknowledge it was God I was angry at) for having given me such a difficult life and a bunch of broken dreams (university being one of them).

    Only when I decided enough was enough and began to be grateful in the midst of my broken life did I begin to see miracles. Yes miracles. The biggest one being my heart of stone turned into a heart of flesh. I was softened. I did not start making more money, nor did I get the chance to go to college. My circumstances did not change overnight, but inside, I was different. I wasn’t whole, but I was at peace, content, finding my joy in God, knowing that “shit” happens, but Christ himself said it would.

    Today, my mom is healed of her Cancer. I didn’t lose another parent. Today I managed to make enough $ to buy her a small house (another miracle). I’ve never lacked food on my table, even if it was a plate of spaghetti with no tomato sauce (or anything else to go with it), it was still edible food. And when I’ve really been flat broke, helping hands always came with groceries and helped out with the bills.

    God is grace. This world is broken, fractured as are we. In the midst of this brokenness, we are grateful for the grace we receive, in any shape or form. It could be a smile, a hug, a sunset, a good song or a helping hand that gives us money when we’re in the dumps.

    God works from the inside out. He is more interested in our spiritual journey and the changing of our paradigm, than in our comfort. Where there is comfort, there is no growth. The world preaches comfort and a stress-free life, but we are part of a different, larger story.

    I got the chance to baptize someone this year, and I now I’m mentoring / baptizing -once the study period is over, someone else. It’s a mini-ekklesia that God just brought about in my life. As much as I am outside of my comfort zone here (I do not attend church -nor plan on doing so ever again, I have plenty of non-christian friends but not one Christian friend in my current city, I DJ at a bar, I run a radio that plays secular music (yet everything is sacred), I work a regular day job, I struggle with financial hardship and responsibilities I never asked for…, I sometimes have fear of the future and many times my faith dwindles… Some days I cry because I support my family and I feel just really tired…) despite all this fractured humanity that I am…. I see God bringing these broken people over so that even in my imperfection, a word of peace can be delivered to them. That just makes me happy. And I find purpose and peace.

    I wrote the following this year, I guess it works for the discussion on this post… I’ll just cut and paste:

    ***************

    Theologian Peter Rollins says that to believe is human and to doubt is divine. Paul says that we see as though in a mirror, veiled, but that a day will come when we will know how we’ve been known (1st Cor. 13:12). In the midst of faith, doubt should reign. The faith we profess doesn’t have all the answers, that’s why it’s called “faith” (the certainty of what is expected, the conviction of what is not seen). We have not yet seized what awaits us, we haven’t even seen it, but there is something at the core of our human spirit that clings to God.

    Christ is a clear example.
    Christ, the great revolutionary, came to turn the entire social-religious system of his time upside down. His statements were as bizarre as his lifestyle. “Turn the other cheek”, “Love your neighbor as yourself”… Nuggets of wisdom for a people used to the hypocrisy of the Pharisees and Sadducees. Christ did not come as the glorious liberating general that the Israelites expected their Messiah to be; the superman that would come to release them from the yoke of the Roman Empire. No… Christ came as the freak, the fringe-dweller, the unattractive guy (scripture says he was not attractive – Isaiah 53:2); the guy with no home or possessions; the guy that hung out with prostitutes and tax collectors. And furthermore he liked good wine. Christ got tired, got emotional, cracked jokes (as the human being he was), his stomach hurt, he was afraid (“take away this cup from me”) and even on the cross, he dared say “Eloi, Eloi, Lama Sabactani” (“God, God, why have you forsaken me”). If Christ doubted, Christ himself… how can we say that faith is a magic little pill that fixes everything and we all live happily ever after? No… we live in a fractured world, inside a fractured body. We don’t have the answers. On the contrary, we have Cancer and Aids, thieving politicians, pedophile priests and lame pastors… that’s what we have. And the icing on the cake is us -because no one is free from sin. We have a beam in our eye. Do I not lie? Do I not covet? But the hope that Christ gives is that God is for us. For us. It is God who embraces us in the midst of how much we suck, without hesitation, without being sick to his stomach. On the contrary (as a Christian comedian once said: God has a photo of you in his wallet and whenever he takes it out to look at it he smiles – thank you GG). When faced with that kind of love, how can one not respond?

    It is God who meets us on the way. And when our world crumbles, when hope fails, when our dreams amount to nothing but broken dreams; that’s where we say, like children “all this will be taken and used for my sake” (Romans 8.28). This is faith. It’s saying “Yes, I believe” when you’re being led to a coliseum to be thrown to the lions.

    It’s not easy. If tomorrow I lost what I most hold dear (my mom and brother), would I be able to say “Yes, I believe” ? Therein lies faith. It dwells in this juncture.

    Enough with the lameness. Even faith resembles a market economy nowadays.

    Today’s “religion” tries to deny the fractured existence of human beings, with their prosperity doctrine, their pills… but it is Christ who embraces it. God knows just how broken we are. At Mount Calvary this fracture finds its reason for being. The rest is just… the rest.


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