You have Only to be Still
By: Marek Zabriskie
Astronomer Carl Sagan, writes, “The Cosmos is all there is and all there ever will be.” For folks like Sagan, miracles are things for children to believe in – like Santa Claus and the Tooth Fairy.
People like Sagan believe in a world composed solely of atoms and molecules. Nothing can be true unless it can be replicated in an experiment. Thus, they miss out on the miraculous, because miracles cannot be replicated.
Folks who dismiss miracles, remind me of that great line from Flannery O’Connor’s novel, Wise Blood, where the redoubtable country preacher, Hazel Motes, informs his landlady that he is a preacher in the Church Without Christ, where “the blind don’t see and the lame don’t walk and what’s dead stays that way.” To which the woman innocently replies, “Protestant?”
Whether you are Protestant, Catholic, Jewish, Muslim or agnostic, I would urge you to believe in miracles. Why deny the possibility to something so powerful and promising that you may one day need? Trust that there’s more to life than meets the eye.
It’s especially important to do this during the pandemic, after a divisive election, tropical storms, raging forest fires, rising racial tensions and massive economic woes not seen in years.
We need a few miracles. So, if you are facing challenges, trust that God has not given up on the world. Miracles do occur.
Albert Einstein said, “There are only two ways to live one’s life – to live as if nothing is a miracle and the other is to live as if everything is a miracle.” Throughout history some of the greatest scientists have believed in miracles, Christians like Isaac Newton and Galileo.
Francis Collins, who headed the Human Genome Project and now serves as the Director of the National Institute of Health, speaks openly about his Christian faith. In his book The Science of God, Collins explains how science led him to embrace faith.
C.S. Lewis notes that the world can be broken up into a natural and supernatural realm. If we only believe in the natural realm, we will fail to grasp the supernatural.
Yet, the Bible is full of miracles. Jesus turned water into wine, calmed the storm on the Sea of Galilee, walked on water and used five loaves of bread to feed roughly a small town. Jesus helped the blind to see, the lame to walk, the deaf to hear and raised Lazarus from the dead. Each miracle was proof that God’s will for us is not chaos and suffering, but wholeness and joy.
Since moving to Greenwich in 2018, I have seen miracles occur. I have seen church members do miraculous acts of charity for complete strangers and the greatest surge of generosity in our church in decades, which allows us to help more struggling people.
The penultimate miracle in the Old Testament occurred when Moses stretched out his hand, and the Red Sea parted so that the Israelites could safely cross on dry ground. When Egyptian soldiers followed them, the waters converged and they were drowned.
In her book, And God Spoke to Abraham: Preaching from the Old Testament, widely-regarded preacher, scholar and Christ Church parishioner Fleming Rutledge notes that there is a direct correlation between the Exodus event and Jesus’ resurrection.
Just as God adopted the Jewish people who crossed through the waters of Red Sea, so God adopts Christians as they pass through baptismal waters. The Exodus made the Jews God’s Chosen People just as baptism makes us Christian.
During the Exodus, God led the Israelites to a place where there was no escape, no exit and no way out in order to prove to them that the miracle was God’s doing and not their own. God showed them what heavenly power can do.
Moses told the people, “Fear not, stand firm, and see the salvation of the Lord…” Then he added, “The Lord will fight for you, and you have only to be still.” (Exod. 14:13-14) The Israelites did not have to pray, fast or worship around the clock. God produced the miracle.
Sometimes, we foolishly think that the miracle depends on us. If we just pray hard enough, notes preacher Barbara Brown Taylor, like a person at a country fair swinging a sledge hammer on one of those strength tests with the big thermometer with the bell that rings on top. If we just hit the sledgehammer hard enough, we will ring the bell and win the prize.
But miracles don’t work like that. True, not everyone who prays for a miracle gets one. But when a miracle occurs, it’s a sign from God that we are never alone as we face our challenges.
Exodus foreshadows Jesus’ resurrection, because Jesus’ death was left to die alone on the darkest day of human history. There was no way out of the crucifixion. No escape. No exit. No chance in hell, but God opened a way and delivered Jesus just like God delivered Israel.
So, if you are in a dark, challenging place that feels like a dead end, where there seems to be no escape, no future, fear not for God can find a way where there is no way.
When everything is going wrong in your life and it feels like no one is on your side, trust that the Lord will fight for you, your health, marriage, family, job, future or a loved one. Trust these words, “The Lord will fight for you, and you have only to be still.” That’s the miracle of it all.
By the Rev. Marek P. Zabriskie, Rector of Christ Church Greenwich