When Miracles Fail: A Guest Post by Sarah

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Sarah is a regular commenter on the Unbelievable podcast blog. My previous post on miracles, magic, and superstition appeared there. This is her response unedited save for light formatting. Enjoy…

In my church, anyone who so much looked at horoscopes was considered superstitious and this was not of god and certainly not good. In fact it was most definitely dabbling in the occult and could quite possibly be the start of demon possession. There were however apparently no particular contradictions in accepting the Magi in the nativity story who were astrologers. 😉

I’m sorry you had the conservative version of Christianity David. Ours sounds much more fun. 😉 And, we’d have had no problem calling your church “dead” for being cessationists, you would have had our pity for not being able or willing to experience the fullness of God. We on the other hand, were on fire. We were constantly told a ‘new wave of the Spirit was imminent’ and we were going to do great things.

I think they even coined the phrase “Living supernaturally naturally”. Miracles were to be expected, encouraged and sought out, though few would have been able to define what exactly a miracle was. Mostly it was serendipitous coincidences and vague 6th sense feelings, but tell people with enough repetition they’ve got some power and they get all amped up like an attendee at a Tony Robbins conference.

It was the giddy days of prayer-breakthroughs and in the event of not seeing anything particularly miraculous, one could always content oneself that in the very least we were a new creation and were unquestionably being inwardly transformed. This was the true miracle (when all else failed) albeit a bit less glitzy.

It was fun. But it was also dangerous. One family in the church received many prophecies, words of knowledge and pictures that the father, who was young and dying of cancer, would be healed. We all believed it. We all had faith. After all, god had confirmed it over and over so it was 100% going to happen.

It was the early 80’s, chemo wasn’t so great then. He died. The minister went as far as laying himself on the body to pray for it to be raised from the dead. This is something the family, and frankly myself as a 12 year old kid, should have never had to hear. It’s just plain creepy and building people’s hopes up is needlessly cruel.

Unsurprisingly, he remained quite dead. In the face of this unjust passing and quite unable to acknowledge they’d made a humongous, collective booboo, the church clapped and danced the following week as if nothing had happened. The widow left the church, shortly followed by my family.

We also had supernatural events happen on our kids’ summer camps and I, as any self respecting 13 year old girl, kept a detailed diary of them. One night when the boys were praying in their dorm, a “demonic spirit” appeared. Of course this made complete sense; we were going for god so we could expect enemy retaliation of the supernatural kind.

Terrified, they called the leaders and they all prayed it away. (As long as you did all this in Jesus’ name you were safe). The demonic entity was cast out but flew towards the girls’ dorm, so they prayed for protection and they all saw a shield appear over the building. Angels were also seen guarding the door.

The next morning, the camp was rife with the news and we all thanked god for his protection. I dutifully noted all the eye witness accounts in my diary, though disappointingly I had not seen any of the supernatural happenings myself. That’s OK, our meetings were full of being slain in the spirit and other supernatural events, so you couldn’t have it all, right?

What’s amusing is that 30 years later, I have reconnected on social media with one of the guys in question. He is now an Anglican vicar and I reminded him of this event. He has absolutely no recollection of it. I was dumbfound AND crestfallen. But, but… I was there, I spoke to the eye witnesses, I wrote it all down …within a very short time-frame and my diaries are perfectly preserved in their original format, in the language of the day. It has to be true, right?….

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