Written by Daniel Hazard
Excerpt from Acts 19:11-20
"God did extraordinary miracles through Paul so that when the handkerchiefs or aprons that had touched his skin were brought to the sick, their diseases left them, and the evil spirits came out of them. Then some itinerant Jewish exorcists tried to use the name of the Lord Jesus over those who had evil spirits, saying, ‘I adjure you by the Jesus whom Paul proclaims...But the evil spirit said to them in reply, ‘Jesus I know, and Paul I know; but who are you?'"
I love seeing the "Expect a miracle" bumper sticker. It seems that I only see it when I really need one. It reminds me that my miracle is tethered to my faith expectation. No expectation. No vision of outcome. No miracle.
Paul was so filled with expectation that when the handkerchiefs or aprons that had touched his skin were brought to the sick, their diseases left them. Now that's confident expectation and tangible outcome.
How did he gain such confident expectation that God would act? By attentively walking and working in relationship with the God about whom and with whom Jesus spoke; by recalling the way Jesus changed his life - radically. Paul and the disciples called upon God as an intimate friend, not a theological or intellectual construct.
Such a faith journey is a lot like cooking. You may start with a recipe, but over time you can end up smelling, spicing, marinating, feeling, tasting your way through to expert food wizardry, knowing exactly how the meal will taste—even before it is cooked, causing other chefs to ask, "What was that?"
The other exorcists in this story were using Paul's recipe without the intimate seasoned working and tasting of the ingredients. If we want to feed the world the bread of life, through prayer, spiritual discipline, and our daily walk with God, we must do so with hopeful expectation, risk to our own reputation and innovation to become confident bakers of hope.
O come with expectation, with vision of outcome. Experience your miracle - tasting, smelling, and seeing that God is good. For such, miracles still happen. Amen.
Order Spring Cleaning: 2013 Lent Devotionals - new from the Stillspeaking Writers' Group and other favorite UCC writers. Lent starts Feb. 13.