July 9, 1996
I got out of bed the second morning of June’s three-day downpour and when my foot hit the carpet on our second-story bedroom floor, it made a splash!
Our condominium is on the highest ground in a complex called “The Summit.” Obviously, it is not a place anyone would anticipate a flood, but we had a flood. The property management people arrived, rolled back the carpet and pulled up the underlay. There was water standing about a quarter inch deep over nearly three square yards of sub-floor.
Of course our “flood” is nothing compared to those that wash people out of their homes or the messes of backed-up sewage that fill some basements. The point is, this was a first-hand example for me of an event that crossed the boundaries of ordinary circumstances. When that happens, some even call it a “miracle” but finding yourself floating when “ordinary circumstances” equate with “high and dry,” is not a miracle — it’s more a nuisance.
Today the floor and carpet are dry and the underlay replaced. The cause of this “miracle” turns out to be poor workmanship and improperly installed flashing on a section of a roof overhang. God’s out-of-the-ordinary (but not miraculous) heavy rain and driving wind managed to find the hole made by human error and produce an unnatural event, one that hardly could be blamed on God.
In fact, people are quite skilled at making unnatural events happen all by ourselves. For instance, remember the man who trained a squirrel how to water ski? The photograph was on the front page of a national magazine. There was another one (or maybe the same person) who taught a squirrel how to ride in a little boat. Both go beyond the normal laws of nature but neither qualify as miracles.
Granted, a miracle does cross the boundaries of ordinary events but there is a vast difference between second-story floods, skiing squirrels and true biblical miracles. For one thing, human beings cannot duplicate them.
For instance, Jesus walked on water. The last person to try that is still drying out. Moses parted the Red Sea to let the Israelites pass over to dry land and then called the waters together again and their enemies were drowned. All this happened within an hour or two. Today, we can stop rivers or divide oceans but we need months or years, tons of earth-moving equipment and a great collection of machines and workers.
The miracles in the Bible were unique in that they were by God’s design. He used them to point to His own glory and character. In the case of the Red Sea, God promised He would deliver His people from their bondage in Egypt and take them to a land He would give them. For God, a body of water was not an obstacle but an opportunity to show both the Israelites and the unbelieving Egyptians that He would not let anything prevent Him from keeping His promise.
Jesus walked on water to demonstrate to the disciples, and to us, that He controls the forces of nature — because He is their Creator. As Paul said in Colossians, “He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For by Him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things were created by Him and for Him.”
By a great miracle, Jesus proved our world is not a closed system with a fixed set of rules. As the God who created it, He stepped into it, allowing us to see that He is in control, even over the laws of nature that He put in place. If human ingenuity or even error can make unnatural events happen, God who is infinitely wiser and without error can perform miracles.