There are moments in our lives when we get a glimpse of something bigger than us.
I think these moments are why most irreligious people consider themselves agnostic rather than atheist. It’s hard to wrap their brain around the idea that there may be an all powerful loving God, but they can’t deny that there is some unseen hand at work.
Most of you know where I stand on that. I don’t really don’t want Manlihood to be all about preaching my Christian beliefs to you. I know we have men from all backgrounds. I know I’ll never convince everyone to convert, and that isn’t the goal here today.
I can’t, however, deny that there are moments in life when you see the Hand of God at work.
For many, they’ll call it “the universe” or “fate” or in the biggest act of denial or defiance, chalk it up to “coincidence” or “luck” – but even then, they stack stones to make an altar and sacrifice to it.
In eighth grade I made a friend. The first friend I ever really had. He was the new kid, his mother’s family was greek, so his curly hair and facial shaped sharply contrasted the little whitebread polish and irish catholic kids in our tiny little town. Nobody wanted to be friends with the new kid. I POUNCED. He needs a friend, and so did I.
Actually, he made a great friend. I’d call him on the phone, we’d hang out, and eat lunch together, and if it weren’t for his friendship, I’d probably have offed myself that year.
But at the end of that year, he broke the news – his mom was moving back downstate.
I would have been devastated, but fortunately, eighth grade was the year that I found value in myself. I had made a few friends before the end. I was sad to be losing my buddy, but at least I had a couple other friends.
Fast forward four years and one summer. I’m standing in the registration line at a large Christian college in Virginia. I had planned to go to a different school, but funding fell through, and Liberty offered me a combination of grants and loans that I couldn’t refuse. (Those loans though – yikes. Another topic for another day.) As I’m standing in line, I hear a voice say, “Don’t tell me you don’t remember me after all these years!”
Yup. Three people ahead of me in line.
And the three people between us were girls. Which meant as we registered and were assigned form rooms – that’s right. Roomies.
It was a great year, and reconnecting with an old friend was a powerful experience that proved to me the hand of the divine.
Fast forward again. This time, it’s 2001. My wife is doubled over with pain. We get her to the ER. Good news. It’s a boy. (His name is Abe.) Bad News. She’s got multiple cysts, they should be removed, but surgery is dangerous for her and the baby.
Prayers from family, and friends as close as family then commence. Dusty old church ladies who pray in King James. Slightly crazy charismatics who like to touch you when they pray and say things like “hedge of protection” and “from the top of her head to the soles of her feet.” Prayers from people who aren’t even sure if they believe it. Prayers from folks who have probably raised the dead.
A day or two later, further testing shows, the cysts are gone.
Over the years, that woman has had more unexplained things disappear than anything I know. Graves Disease, Nodules on her thyroid, you name it.
I’ll attribute it to that Hand of God. I’m not ashamed or afraid to do so.
Just last year, my youngest teenage daughter was diagnosed with significant hearing loss. After a barrage of tests and imaging, it was determined to be permanent nerve damage. “This doesn’t get any better. It only gets worse.” And then my sweet little girl got a hearing aid, which she wore like a badge of honor. I think it was her way of staving off the disappointment- to turn her shame to pride.
She didn’t even ask for healing. Didn’t think it would happen for her. But her crazy bold teenage friends were praying, and refused to stop.
She woke up one morning and the side of her head felt like pins and needles.
She yawned. SNAP.
And then she could hear.
Popped her hearing aid in, and it was WAY too loud.
Snapped her fingers. Yep.
Plugged her other ear. Yep.
Months later, a follow up with a very puzzled audiologist confirmed, her hearing was restored. “We’ve never seen anything like this. In fact, the hearing in both of your ears has improved.”
There are too many times that I’ve seen these things for me to deny that there are supernatural forces at work. Too many things, both sacred and wicked for me to deny that there are things beyond my understanding.
“I got a man.” “What’s your man got to do wit’ me?”
Nobody likes to be told what to believe. We take that “I got a man” posture if anyone starts getting “preachy.” While I love the idea that the things I say may be like seeds that get you to consider MY God, I know that for many of you, that’s not going to happen. I’m not judging, I’m not preaching, I’m not shoving anything on anybody. But I will ask you to consider it.
Ultimately, we have to ask these questions, whether they be of black holes, or an unseen God, or even a village witch doctor….