Daring the Skeptic
I am beginning this article with a story. I urge you to read it through, not only because it is a true story, but more importantly I believe that it will make it all but impossible to argue to the contrary, ie that God does not answer prayer, or perceived answers to prayer are only chance or coincidence. In fact, I challenge the skeptical reader to finish this story and still come to a conclusion of the possibility for coincidence. The timing is too perfect, the details too synchronized. So skeptic, I challenge you, I DARE you...read on and try to remain a skeptic.
I had just been invited to a Toastmasters International meeting after taking an 18 month hiatus from the club. (Toastmasters International is an organization dedicated to improving public speaking skills- no plug intended) I decided to go and see old friends and enjoy the varied exercises and training methods espoused by the club. The night before the meeting I was looking through some old folders, not related to the meeting, when completely by chance (or so I thought) I found my Toastmasters handbook that I thought I had lost a year earlier. "Ha! How cool is that! I found my handbook the day before the meeting!" Please keep in mind that I wasn't even looking for the handbook. Even though I am a person of faith I did not ascribe my good fortune to anything God was setting up or was divinely orchestrating. I just thought I got lucky.
I was to attend the meeting immediately after work the following day so, naturally, I took the handbook to work with me. As I was walking up the sidewalk toward my building I saw a co-worker walking with her head down looking heavy hearted. I trotted to catch up to her. Slowing down I greeted her, "Hi Sandy," then asked, "How are you? Is anything wrong?"
To my surprise, she opened up immediately and said, "Well, my house caught on fire last night. We were just pulling in the driveway and saw smoke pouring out of the kitchen window. We were able to get the fire put out, but all my appliances were fried. The house is going to be ok, but I don't even have a microwave. (please stay with me now, the story is about to get interesting- I'm being as concise as I can for Pete's sake!)
"Oh wow," I said. That's terrible. I didn't know what to say to her, isn't it hard to know what to say in a situation like that? I said the only thing I could think of- "I'm so sorry. If I can do anything please let me know. I'll sure be keeping you guys in my prayers."
She thanked me and we continued to walk into the building in silence. As we went to our particular departments I prayed silently. "Lord, I meant what I said to her. I ask you to watch over Sandy and her family, and if there's anything I could do to help I'd really like to. Amen."
I walked into the men's locker room to change into my scrubs as I work in the surgical department of a local hospital. I changed my clothes as I always do and had about five minutes before needing to be at the nurses' station for morning report. I decided to thumb through the Toastmasters handbook I carried in. To my surprise I noted that pressed between the pages were five, crisp 20 dollar bills. (See, I told you it was getting interesting!) It was so strange because I didn't, and still don't, remember putting that money in the handbook, the handbook I had misplaced over a year ago, but I knew I must've because one of the bills had food on it, macaroni sauce or mustard, something like that. I'm notorious for getting food on my hands then tracking it to whatever I touch, in this case a set of $20 bills.
Forgetting about Sandy and her family, my thoughts turned to my selfish self and I said, "Aha! Awesome! I'll use this money to get the new shoes I need." Then, I distinctly heard the voice of God in my heart, in my head, somewhere in my consciousness. I heard it clearly. Anyone who has ever heard it knows what I'm talking about. For those that haven't, you can if you listen, but being a skeptic places invisible hands over spiritual ears and you can't hear for that reason. Anyway, please keep reading...it gets better. I heard God's voice say, "The money isn't for you." Instantly I knew it was meant for Sandy and I felt a wave of guilt wash over me for my self centeredness. "Oh Lord, I'm sorry. Of course. This money is for Sandy." Well, yes and no. I then heard the voice of the Lord say, "Go downstairs and buy the microwave." That's it. That's what I heard.
Now you have to know that the hospital where I work has a very odd little store. It's like a gift shop on steroids and features everything from candy bars to big screen TV's, but I have never seen kitchen appliances, like a microwave, in it. Well, I ran down the three flights of stairs and into the store (it's directly below my department) and began looking for a microwave. At first I saw nothing. Then, to my shock and wonder, I saw it. Not only was it a microwave whose final price came to $99.97, but the brand name on the box is shown in a photograph below, the photo I took with my phone as I carried it out to Sandy's car later that day.
The Toastmaster Miracle
I don't like the expression "prayer works" because prayer isn't about getting God to do something for you. Prayer, is many things, but here specifically, is a chance to see God at work in the life of people. I believe that saying "prayer works" belittles the event of divine intervention. Prayer isn't about "getting." It isn't a formula that, when performed in the right setting, using the right method, using the right language, compels God to give you what you want. It is the opportunity to see Him at work as a testimony to the reality of Himself.
Now, dear skeptic, can you argue with this story, assuming it is true? If you think I am lying or embellishing then it is easy to dismiss my conclusion, but lets assume I'm telling the truth; that I really found the Toastmasters handbook containing the $100 the day after Sandy's microwave was destroyed, and that the microwave I found in the store where I worked was the only one on the shelf, and that it's cost was almost exactly $100 to the penny ($99.97- I put the remaining 3 cents in the "need a penny take a penny, have a penny leave a penny cup.), and can it be chalked up to chance or coincidence that the brand name of the microwave was "Toastmaster?" Have you ever even heard of that brand? Apparently it's been around for a long time, but I've never heard of it. I thought an angel put it there for me to find. My point is, it would take more faith to believe that all those circumstances aligned by chance than it would to just believe that there is a God in heaven that cares for people right down to the small details of their lives.
There is intimacy in small things. You could say, "Well what about the rest of her appliances? What about smoke damage to her house?" Yes, those are real issues and God has dealt with them as well, but often times He starts small in the life of someone He is trying to reach. He starts with the small and the intimate so that the person will know there is no other reasonable explanation other than "God has spoken to me...God has touched my life and I must respond." And I ask, how will you respond to this story? Will you mock it? Will you at least think it over? Yes, there are bigger problems in the world and it would be easy to wonder why God lets big things, big and bad things, go on, and why you should believe in Him just because of a miraculous microwave. Jesus said, "He who is faithful with a very little is faithful also in much." Luke 16:10
God too, often starts with little things in our lives in order to gain our trust because this is something we all know intuitively to be true: How do we know how our child will treat his or her first car? Look at the way they treated their bicycle. Now doesn't that just resonate as true to you? Doesn't that make sense? God's methods are not unreasonable, not far out and ethereal, but near us, near our lives with all our hurts and troubles. I hope you will exercise prayer simply by faith, even if you've never done it before. "God, if you're there, will you help me to see? Help me to hear? Help me to understand?"
"He who is faithful with a very little is faithful also in much."— Luke 16:10
© 2019 Leland Johnson