I grew up in a Bible-believing family, so the seemingly fantastical stories in Scripture were just a normal part of my daily life, but it’s pretty wild stuff. For example A doomsday fruit tree. A talking snake. A talking donkey. A fish that holds a man alive in its belly for three days. Fish jumping up on the shore with money in their mouths. A boys lunch box feeding thousands of people. Schools of fish that spent the night avoiding being caught purposefully rush into a net and almost sink the boat. This isn’t natural, it’s supernatural. It’s not normal, it’s other.
The hand of Moses contracts an advanced case of leprosy and instantly becomes healthy again. His face shines so bright with the glory of God that it terrifies the Israelites, and he doesn’t even know that he’s glowing. Fire falls from the sky and consumes cities, groups of soldiers, and a water-soaked altar. A group of friends becomes fireproof inside a raging furnace. Jesus walks on water, through walls, and vanishes directly in front of people. Phillip is miraculous transported 30 miles from the desert into a city. Oh yeah, and DEAD PEOPLE COME BACK TO LIFE!!! All of this is very very much “other.” Or is it?
I’ve seen a couple of different responses to this topic. One is that we (Christians) think that God did use His supernatural power to create Earth and perform the miracles in the Bible, but that He doesn’t do stuff like that anymore. Maybe out in some third world country, but not in America. Maybe in our search for comfort from the Bible we gloss over disturbing verses like Matthew 13:58, “And he did not do many miracles there because of their lack of faith.” Maybe we don’t even find that verse disturbing because we don’t think it applies to us.
Another response to the “otherness” of God is that we can become so focused on the supernatural that we may neglect or even damage the people around us. Once while I was sporting a pair of crutches due to a rock climbing injury, I had someone come up and ask me if I believed in God’s healing power. After they prayed for me two times and nothing happened, they just walked off without saying anything. I felt like they saw me as a project instead of a person.
The older I get, the more I’m amazed by who God is. The more I read about what He has done and hear stories of what he’s currently doing the more I want to be involved! I’m asking for each of the spiritual gifts that Paul describes in 1 Corinthians 12, because when I stand before God I don’t want to find out that there was so much more I could have had if I would have simply taken the risk to ask. I’m also asking the Lord to keep showing me my motives because pride and selfishness can be incredibly subtle. Maybe He’s waiting on these gifts out of love for me. Maybe my love isn’t strong enough to hold up under the weight of the “otherness” of these gifts. I honestly don’t know. However, I do know that like a good daddy God is proud of my shaky baby steps. He’s better, bigger, kinder, and more patient than I already think that He is. I want Him much more than I want His stuff.
I’ll leave you with this lyric:
The answer to the normal and the other is to wonder.
Wonder leads to awe, leads to worship, leads to life.
The gifts are not the Giver, but His presents show His heart,
And fast the day approaches when we’ll see things as they art.
All creation yearns to follow every whisper He might say,
Yet I’ve been given honor in my option to obey.
The answer to the normal and the other is to wonder,
With a growing sense of awe in all the all of the “I AM.”