Monday, January 03, 2005

Miracles

Mark 4:35-41 (New International Version)

Jesus Calms the Storm

“35That day when evening came, he said to his disciples, “Let us go over to the other side.” 36Leaving the crowd behind, they took him along, just as he was, in the boat. There were also other boats with him. 37A furious squall came up, and the waves broke over the boat, so that it was nearly swamped. 38Jesus was in the stern, sleeping on a cushion. The disciples woke him and said to him, “Teacher, don't you care if we drown?”
39He got up, rebuked the wind and said to the waves, “Quiet! Be still!” Then the wind died down and it was completely calm.
40He said to his disciples, “Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith?”
41They were terrified and asked each other, “Who is this? Even the wind and the waves obey him!”

On December 31st, just before Nancy and I left to spend New Year’s Eve with some friends, I tuned in CNN for a few minutes. The featured show was Anderson Cooper’s “360.” Cooper spent the entire hour recounting some of the miraculous reports that are now surfacing since the tragic events in South Asia. One story was particularly amazing, the story of a man named Daylan Sanders and the twenty-eight children who survived the tsunami along with him. An extended portion of the show’s transcript, in which Mr. Sanders recounts the events of that fateful day, follows:

COOPER: “It bears repeating that each night, we've been moved by the stories of people, people who have literally reached out and saved strangers' lives. Daylan Sanders is a U.S. citizen who sold his townhouse near Washington D.C. 10 years ago, and moved back to his native Sri Lanka, to build an orphanage, the Samaritan Children's Home. When the waves came on Sunday, he gathered all 28 children, put them in a boat, and raced the waves to safety.” ”He joins me now on the phone from Batticaloa, Sri Lanka. Thanks very much for being with us, Daylan.” ”You know, we talked to a lot of people, and when they first saw the waves, they instantly thought to run to higher ground, but not you. What made you think your best chances were at sea in a boat?” DAYLAN SANDERS, FOUNDER AND DIRECTOR, SAMARITAN CHILDREN'S HOME: “Because there are no words in human speech to describe what we saw. It was a 30-foot wall of sea, just bearing down on us like an angry monster. And it was coming at us at such speed, I knew that there was no place on ground where we could be safe. So I knew -- there was something in me that told me that instantly, that we've got to get on top of this wave if -- to stay safe.” COOPER: “So how quickly -- how quickly...”
SANDERS: “So I came out, I called out for the children. They all came. We rushed. We had just 10 seconds to get into the boat, and that day the outboard motor stayed hooked to the boat. Usually, we take it off every night. And we got into the boat -- you know, it had rushed in. It has -- it just demolished everything that stood in its path. It came with such force. It just hit both of the garages. The garages just splintered in every direction. It lifted up my Toyota pickup vehicle, my Mitsubishi L-300. We had a three-wheeler, a motor bike. Everything -- it just pulverized.” ”And then when we got into the boat, it was just a few -- I would say about 15 feet away, and we were eyeball to eyeball with the wave. And immediately, a scripture popped into my mind. It said, "When the enemy comes in like a flood, the spirit of the Lord shall raise up a standard against it." (Author’s note – Mr. Sanders was referring to Isaiah 59:19, King James Version) And I know from there, I got the courage. I just stood up in the small boat, and I lifted both my hands and I said, I command you in the name of Jesus Christ, on the strength of the scriptures, that when the enemy comes in like a flood, the spirit of the Lord shall raise up a standard against him. I command you in the name of Jesus Christ to stand still. And I thought I was imagining at the time that the massive wall of water, it stood. It -- I'm not one given to exaggeration. I saw, as if something holding back, some invisible force or hand. It just stood.” ”And -- this was confirmed, because later on, when I met some of the villagers who had climbed on top of palmara (ph) trees and coconut trees and had survived this onslaught. They told me -- they called me father. They said, Father, we didn't stand a chance because the sea, when it got down to the beach and it crushed into the village, it came with the same speed and the same furry, and it just wiped us all out.” ”But when -- ours is a four-acre complex. We have a boys section, the girls' home, the staff section and everything. But when it got on your land, at one point, it stood still. It just slowed down. And that gave you the chance. What made it? Was it the density of the trees or the buildings? I said, there was no power on Earth that could have held it back but the power of God. I said, I called upon God, and I commanded it in the name of Jesus, who 2,000 years ago he commanded the waves, and they obeyed. He commanded the sea, and they obeyed. And this is the very same God did the same to us and gave us those precious few seconds that we needed to stop at the first yank, at the start, the engine just sputtered into life.”
COOPER: “And Daylan, I know your gamble paid off. You were able to take your boat really directly through the wave and rescue all the children in your orphanage.”
SANDERS: “By the way, they came up to us, and I told them that, you know, it's going to catch up with us and if it caught up...”
COOPER: “It's a remarkable, remarkable story, Daylan. Able to save 28 of the children in the orphanage. The orphanage itself, the buildings, the structures destroyed. But it's a remarkable tale. Daylan Sanders, thanks for joining us.”

There are other stories as well, the story of the little Swedish boy, for example, who was found alive in a tree two days after the disaster.

These people, and others, had been spared. Some have asked how. Mr. Sanders provided one answer, and while I’m sure there are many skeptics and unbelievers who doubt his account, they have no other or better answer(s) to provide. Mr. Sanders’ testimony stands on its own. People can either believe it or reject it. Those are the only options available.

I even think there’s another miracle in Mr. Sanders’ story. I’m amazed the CNN even reported it. How did Mr. Sanders get by the producers and screeners of “360?” I cannot find myself believing that his testimony would have been aired if they’d looked at the story more closely.

As I watched the show unfold I noticed that Mr. Cooper, one of CNN’s rising stars, felt out of his element. And his discomfort came when the miracle that occurred was attributed to Jesus of Nazareth. Notice his words in response to the remarkable story – “And Daylan, I know your gamble paid off. You were able to take your boat really directly through the wave and rescue all the children in your orphanage.” The word “gamble” is especially interesting, isn’t it?

Now I don’t want to be too harsh on Anderson Cooper and the mainstream media here. I really don’t. They spend a good deal of time chasing down religious hucksters, so when the real thing comes along, they don’t quite know how to approach it.

To tell you the truth I think they’re acting as a mirror for most people when these things happen. It’s societal. When something tragic happens, it’s God’s fault.

In the past few days I’ve gotten a couple of e-mails, one a skeptic and one an atheist. They both said pretty much the same thing. “Why did God allow this to happen?” I sent each the same response – “The day before this happened you didn’t believe and now you apparently do. What changed your mind?”

Now I know it’s not fair to answer a question with a question, but I don’t think their questions were well placed to begin with. The skeptics are like most insurance underwriters, in my view. Look at any homeowners’ policy and you’ll see what I mean. What are the acts of God as far as the insurance industry is concerned? Hail…..Pestilence…..Plagues…..Hurricanes…..Floods…..and other “acts of God! Do they give God credit for sunshine that warms us, the spring rains that nourish our crops? Is there any mention of the breezes that refresh us? And how about the bountiful harvests that feed us?

Would any answer satisfy the skeptics at a time like this? I doubt it.

And I do believe there are answers. I have one of them. Compassion is a God-given gift that even the most hardened skeptic should have in abundance for times like this. It’s a time to reach out to those in need, not complain and rail against the heavens. This is a time when we can all be God’s hands and feet in the world. There are no real qualifiers to do this other than compassion. God can use skeptics to reach out and help as well as He can the most dedicated of saints. The skeptic’s money is worth just as much as a believer’s. And I even believe that God would even hear the prayer of a skeptic as well as He would the prayer of the most vital of saints. We all just need to do our parts in this; compassion needs to trump the questions and doubts.

I wonder how many more miracles Anderson Cooper might be able to show us if we all, believers and skeptics, dig deep within ourselves and become His hands of mercy and grace extended to those who so desperately need us right now. That’s what’s needed, that’s what we all ought to do!

6 comments:

Michelle said...

Just wanted to thank you for a well thought out and wonderfully expressed blog. Each post surely gives a lot of meat to chew over!

Tom Reindl said...

Amen, Phil!!

Anonymous said...

Great Thoughts Phil. God's mercy is always questioned at times like these. But for those who beleive, His mercy is manefest by the fact there aren't more tragic events like this. Dr.D

Pastor Mike said...

When we look for miracles, we find them.

bob (a.) said...

I really liked the report of the miracle but had a nagging feeling about it for some reason.

Been tracking it down since, with it apparently resolved by the WP author as noted in my blog.

http://secundumchristum.blogspot.com/2005/01/re-youve-got-to-have-witness.html

Seeing the registration information on the orphanage would be a way to put the remainder of the nagging feeling to rest. Mr. Sanders story will pull donations and it got tremendous publicity. I'm praying that it is real. Haven't gotten a response to my email to Mr. Sanders as of 01/09/05. The WP author has been very responsive but doesn't have the details of the NGO supporting the orphanage and refers me to Mr. Sanders and family in the USA.

the1truecoolguy said...

We [my family] know Daylan very well. He used to come here to Canada regularly a few years ago. As unbelievable as this sounds, I'm 100% certain this is truth.