What may be known of God is manifest in the creation of the world. His invisible attributes are clearly seen by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead.
Taken from Romans 1:19 & 20.
The young man sat opposite. They had been looking at famous paintings and the businessman had expressed how life was like a painting, it was sure to be grand if the master had painted it.
“I just can’t believe in God as you can,” said the young man. “Its impossible to have that kind of faith in today’s world.”
“I understand perfectly,” replied the businessman, “Yet God wants to nurture you to that faith if you will let Him. Listen to this story,
There was once a rich man who walked about his garden surveying its beauty and success, when he came upon a bedraggled fruit tree in the midst of it. He called the gardener over to his side, ‘I want you to cut this tree down, dig its roots out, and burn it. It has never borne me any fruit and is utterly useless. A total waste of space, we will put something more productive in its place.’
The gardener looked at the tree sadly, ‘Sir, if you would permit me, please give me three years to nurture this tree. I will compost it, dig the soil loose around it, and water it well. If it does not bear fruit in that time, then we will cut it down, dig its roots out, and burn it. Otherwise it can remain.’
If you will give God your life and time He will nurture you to the faith necessary for everlasting life.”
“Yes, but, there was so much ignorance in those days,” argued the young man, “We have far greater knowledge these days. We hardly need such religion anymore.”
“It is sad to say that knowledge is poisoning the people,” acknowledged the businessman, “But this knowledge has a lack of understanding.
The world is God’s garden, which He made and planted Himself. In that garden there are two trees: the tree of knowledge, and the tree of life. Since the dawn of creation man has had the choice of knowledge, or life. Sadly he has mistaken the first for the second. Knowledge is a destroyer of faith, and it robs us of eternal life. But with life we receive more than knowledge, we receive understanding. As it has been said, it is by faith that we understand. Knowledge does not give you understanding.”
“Now I’m sure that you are unlearned,” said the young man, “It has been proven more than a hundred years ago that creation is not true.”
“One day a man came home from work. His young child found his socks and shoes and played with them. Later the man met his wife in the kitchen where she reprimanded him, ‘Can’t you get undressed in the bedroom instead of traipsing everything through to the bathroom?’
‘But I haven’t been to the bathroom!’ he objected.
Triumphantly she led him to the lounge. There, across the lounge and to the bathroom were strewn: first his shoes, then his socks, followed by his tie. ‘Don’t tell me you haven’t been to the bathroom,’ she accused, ‘The evidence is clear for all to see!’
Evolution relies on circumstantial evidence which can be very misleading,” answered the businessman.
Seeing his arguments were futile the young man became silent, and the two sat a while without speaking a word. The young man excused himself, saying he had certainly been given something to think about.
Later that evening a science student at a local university came to see him. The student’s mother lay sick in bed and she had heard of the businessman’s willingness to pray for the sick. With no other answers, and little hope from doctors, she came seeking any possibility he could find.
The young woman wasted no time in telling him she had sincere doubts about healing through faith in the name of Jesus Christ. It had no visible substance. If the medicines her mother was taking, which were known to, and supposed to help were not working, how could just believing make a difference? The businessman reminded her that she was the one who had sought him out, not he her. She should at least be willing to explore the possibilities or realize it was a complete waste of time. Then he proceeded to meticulously explain Jesus: the life of all humanity.
Being persuaded by the study of science the student was unwilling to accept things that could not be tested and proven. As a test of his knowledge she asked, “How can you prove there is life after death?”
“Certainly,” responded the businessman. “Since you are a science student I will draw your attention to nature’s test tube. There are evidences of life after death all around us.
If you will consider plant life you will see life after death in action. Take a seed. If the plant is to live the seed must first be buried and die. The seed obviously has life in itself, or it would be unable to produce the life of the plant. Yet, if it maintains its seed life the plant will never grow. This is a very clear evidence of life after death.
Every living thing perpetuates life after death in its reproductivity. Although death exists in nature, and everything dies, life continues through reproduction. In this way life continues after death, and has done since the beginning of time.
The truth is I have more evidence for life after death than you have against it. It is not as inexplicable as many might think.”
The student frowned, “So you believe that you can prove that miracles are possible?”
“Once again nature has clear evidence of this. We know that the caterpillar becomes the butterfly, and the tadpole the frog. But, how does this happen?
How does a baby form? Even if we had all the right ingredients in chemistry we could not create life. Life is invisible, and intangible, yet it definitely exists. We call these miracles of nature, yet we forget that God is the origin of nature. Miracles are natural because they come from a natural source.”
“So you believe God is natural? I thought He was supernatural?”
“It is a shame that we have come to describe Him in this way because it divorces Him from His creation. Yes, I would rather say that God is natural and that many of our experiences are sub natural.
God, not man, made nature. We belittle nature when we make it something less than it ought to be. God does not supersede nature He controls it. Every miracle of nature is a miracle of God. When you accept miracles as God’s natural gifts you lift your life’s experience from sub natural standards.”
“That is an interesting tack, though I don’t think it will gain wide acceptance. Yet it claims that miracles are only natural events and should be our common experience. This rouses my interest. I have always classified things of faith as being outside the natural realm. I may need to study this further.”
“That is a noble quest but it does not answer your immediate concern – your mother’s unresponsive illness. You may have to accept it first, then study it later if you want what you came for.”
“Let’s do it,” she responded firmly, pursing her lips.
Reaching into a drawer beside him the businessman retrieved a neatly folded handkerchief, placed his hands over it, and prayed a direct and simple prayer. Handing it to the young student he said, “Give this to your mother. She will be healed.”
Accepting it the student left, walking confidently from the house – her shoulders squared.
Quite some time later an elderly lady visited the businessman.
“You likely don’t know who I am,” she began, “But I have come to thank you, and to tell you my story.
I am a Christian. Some months ago I became terminally ill. A few weeks ago my daughter came to visit you, to ask you to pray for me. She is a university student.” The businessman nodded his recognition.
“As you realize, she visited me the next afternoon with your handkerchief, told me briefly of your ‘interesting conversation’, said, ‘Now you can have faith to be healed, mum.’ And left. Every day she visited me, but my condition grew steadily worse.
Finally, one afternoon, she came in crying. I felt I was dying, and she seemed a little incoherent.
‘Mum,’ she sobbed, ‘I don’t know why you’re not getting better. It should be natural for you to recover. But I do know that I am living a sub natural life (I didn’t know what she was on about). Mum, I don’t know if you’ll live or die, but I do know that I have to set my life right. I know you have wanted this for many years now, and I wanted you to hear me say it. Please pray with me mum.’ I didn’t know if I could. Praying just didn’t seem natural to me at that moment.
‘Lord Jesus,’ she prayed, ‘I know I am a sinner needing your cleansing power for life. Please forgive me my sins, and come into my heart. Amen.’ She hugged me and left, still crying.
I was glad in my heart. I thought, ‘Now I can die peacefully.’ But it didn’t happen that way.
The moment she left the room seemed filled with invisible beings at work. I know they were invisible but it was as if I could see them. It was incredible.
Shortly the doctor came into the room to check on me. He saw me lying, rigid on the bed eyes wide open, staring at the ceiling. Truth is, I couldn’t close my eyes. In fact, I couldn’t even respond to him when he waved his hand over my face.
Worriedly, he checked the equipment I was attached to for my vital signs. Everything showed, as it should for someone as ill as I was. He was puzzled and watched a while. He reached over to press the emergency button, hesitated, then left, closing the door gently behind him.
After he was gone I suddenly felt the urge to go to the toilet. I sat up, pulled the drip from my arm, and the monitoring equipment from where it was attached to various other parts of my body. I got out of bed and toddled off down the corridor to the bathroom.
While I was doing my ablutions the doctor passed by my room. Seeing the door adjar he went in. When he found I wasn’t there he hit the panic button and such a commotion broke loose. The hospital staff were rushing everywhere. I wondered what was wrong as I returned to my room.
Down the corridor a man was in a panic. He kept saying, ‘Why didn’t I go?’ I went to comfort him.
He said, ‘The lady over the corridor, I know she was a Christian, now she’s disappeared. They think her daughter has taken her, but I think the rapture has taken place and I’ve missed out.’ He was so distressed. I told him not to worry the rapture hadn’t taken place because I was still here. I was the lady from that room. He started to call out that I was still here.
The doctor came out of the room. When he saw me he collapsed against the wall in surprise, his shoulders drooped in relief and he mopped his brow. I was ushered back to bed and the tests began. It was rather irksome."
"After I got home I was telling my daughter how the doctor had told me he watched me on the bed and thought I had gone into a coma, only my vital signs appeared to be alright. He was just about to push the emergency button when he thought he could hear (in a sort of thinking way) someone say, ‘Let nature take its course.’ And stopped. My daughter jumped up, interrupting me.
‘That’s when you were healed mum!’ she shouted in an excited whisper. ‘That’s when you were healed!’ and started dancing about the room. I thought she had flipped and she tried to explain to me your thoughts on healing being natural and anything less being sub natural.
That is an interesting proposal you have put forward. It makes healing a normal experience and not something to be striving for, although it makes it very challenging. I suppose it will be too hard to receive.”
She looked down and found the businessman was no longer listening, but was prostrate with his face to the floor, hands stretched above his head. Silently he prayed, “Thank you, Lord, though I don’t deserve this for it was your doing.”
Kneeling down beside him the old lady placed her hand on his shoulder and whispered, “Anyway, I just wanted to say thank you. Thank you, Jesus for this man so willing to believe. Bless him abundantly, amen.”
Rising, she left, closing the front door to his home quietly as she went.
The old lady’s prediction turned out to be quite correct. The idea that all Godly experiences were natural and that all common experiences were sub natural did not sit well with all, especially not in the Church. The businessman was labelled many things, from a loony to an eccentric, from a fanatic to a heretic. Debates raged hotly around the community.
Some, who took hold of the concept, experienced miraculous healings, deliverances, and supplies. Of those some said, “That proves its true.” Even our businessman said that this was not necessarily the case, that it needed fundamental proof from God’s word, but he had neither the desire nor the time to pursue this. It was how he lived, yes, but it had been presented as a “word on the wise” to a seeker, and through it she had found Salvation by faith in Jesus and her mother healing by the power of God. That was really all that mattered.
This did not end the argument though. Our businessman had an energetic defender in the university student, who promoted and debated with students and professors. She was never without a word, nor daunted by the most involved arguments. You would not convince her, even if you convinced all others, she already had the answer, and it had brought her success.
The businessman smiled when he heard this report of her. It reminded him of a schoolboy who had debated with his science teacher about the validity of the Bible. Later, while his friends were debating the issue more, they had asked his opinion.
“Its no good arguing with me,” he had replied. “I believe the Bible is true because it has proved true to me. No one will change my mind on that.”
There was the one afternoon a professor came into his shop and began browsing. The businessman went over and asked if he could be of assistance. “I want to talk to you,” he answered abruptly.
The businessman showed him into his office, and offered him a tea, or coffee. He declined.
“Your wild theories are disturbing university studies,” the professor accused.
“A great man once said, ‘there is joy awaiting those who are not offended because of me.’ What theory am I supposed to have that is so disturbing?” responded the businessman.
“That young woman whose mother was healed is debating all over campus and creating quite a stir. It is sometimes distressing.”
“Are you debating with her? It seems to me that would rather aggravate the situation.”
“I have a responsibility to correct wrong ideas, I must bring some sanity to such discussions.”
“I have an idea I know which ‘theory’ you are referring to, I assure you it is not my theory, rather it is my faith.”
“Theory or faith, it is a groundless supposition. Science has long ago rejected the opinion that there is a creator.”
“And science can never be in error? Think, sir, have not the opinions of science changed from time to time?”
“I cannot deny that. We are in a state of constantly learning. New evidences are being discovered every day.”
“Always learning and never coming to a knowledge of the truth,” mused the businessman half to himself.
“What was that? I can see its no use talking to you. I had hoped you would tell that silly girl to stop talking nonsense.”
“Silly girl? Is she failing in her subjects?” enquired the businessman.
“No. That’s the difficulty. She’s excelling. It makes it impossible to debate with her.”
“It seems to me, sir, that you have no answer against her argument, so you are trying desperately to silence her.
Once there was a man who was speaking in his own defence. His accuser could not refute his claims, so he said; ‘much learning has made you mad.’ This did nothing to support his side of the argument; he only tried to belittle the other to gain the advantage he never had. You, sir, are in danger of this folly.”
Saying their goodbyes the two men parted cordially, and the businessman went about his business.
One evening the businessman answered his door and was met by a minister from a local church. “Good evening pastor,” he said, recognising him.
“Good evening, sir, we need to talk about this matter of miracles. Its creating division in the church.”
“Please come in,” sighed the businessman. He was growing weary of the subject.
When they had seated themselves the minister continued, “I cannot understand why you would hold such emotional views as is being reported, the arguments it creates are very distressing. Is it true that you consider the things of God as ‘natural’?”
“Since God is the creator of nature, yes. It is a part of my faith expression. As I view these things as natural they become normal for me to experience. In this way I encourage my faith.”
“It is dangerous to cause people’s emotions to run so high. When they fail, or if they become depressed they will blame God and desert the faith.”
“You seem very concerned about the emotions that accompany faith yet your own emotions cloud your view of God’s involvement in our everyday lives. Why is it that you wish to crush the emotions of others?”
“I warn you, sir, I must teach against this heresy. I have a responsibility as a minister of God. Both to Him and the people He has placed under me.”
The businessman heaved a sigh, leaned forward on his knees, clasped his hands together and, staring down at the floor, replied, “I acknowledge your responsibility, pastor. I have no fight with you. All I ask is that you give it a fair hearing, and scriptural consideration before you judge me, or the faith that people find so reviving.”
“I’m sorry that I have been unable to get you to retract this false doctrine,” warned the minister. “I had hoped to give some positive statement to my congregation from you, but I see we have no agreement. I’m afraid I must do what I see fit. Perhaps we may speak again in a more positive fashion someday?”
A tear fell from the businessman’s eye. He nodded glumly, stood, and showed the minister to the door. “Tell them,” he spoke gently, “Jesus loves them and He wants heaven’s best for them.” The minister left without responding.
One weekend, some time after these events, the businessman sat in a chair out on his back lawn, soaking in the sun. He felt deserted and ostracized. He had been branded a heretic, an uneducated fool, a bigot, narrow minded, and dangerous. He lifted his closed eyes heavenward as he thought to himself, “There is even persecution in our own country, though it is more subtle. I wonder if it is not worse than in other countries. It kills you, yet leaves you alive.
If they had murdered me I would have died and gone to heaven. But, since I feel I have died inside and yet remain alive to this present world, I am not in heaven but in a living hell, and it feels awful.” He prayed to the Lord for some small comfort and wept silently.
It is not known how long he sat there, though he didn’t notice the car pulling up out front of his home. The university student had seen him as she pulled over to the curb and walked round the side of the house, greeting him.
“Hi,” she called, “I just felt you needed a visit. Sorry I haven’t come to see you before, but I didn’t want people thinking that I was coming to you for my thoughts. I wanted them to know that I had researched your idea, and that I had concluded it was correct. It hasn’t seemed to help, though.”
The businessman opened his eyes and, looking over raised his hand in acknowledgement. He stood and fetched her a chair so she could sit with him. “You look sad,” she observed.
“I’ll be alright,” he dismissed her concern, “Its just been a little difficult to find meaningful fellowship recently. How can I help you?”
“I don’t need help,” she stated firmly, “But you do. I just came to be a friend…a sister in the Lord.” Inwardly he acknowledged this and thought how the Bible said, “out of the mouths of babes…” Even baby Christians can be very helpful.
“Thank you. I do feel rather friendless at the moment.”
They sat and chatted the afternoon away. She told him of her study success, her mother’s joy and vitality, and mused over the Scriptures. He told her of his business, and they recounted their small blessings together, his spirit lifting as they conversed.
“Perhaps,” she said, noting the sun’s descent behind the trees, “I have been too outspoken. I’m sorry to have caused you so much hurt.”
“You have a happy and living testimony,” he argued. “You must not let the devil, or my discomfort silence your witness. We all will suffer from time to time. Jesus said so.” He spoke, showing such determination that she chose not to pursue the topic.
“I’m sorry,” he said. “I have been a terrible host. I haven’t even offered you a drink. May I get you something?”
“The drink you needed is far more important than any physical need,” she observed. “Thank you, but if you will show me the way, I will be the host this evening. Would you allow me to take you out to dinner?”
He consented. After a cup of tea and further chat they left the house in her car. As she drove she asked, “Would you mind if I took you to mum’s? I’ll call her and she’ll have the meal ready for us. I know she’d love to see you.”
“It would be lovely to see her, too,” he agreed. “How is she coming along?”
“Its interesting, mum’s certainly trusting God more for her health now. She’s always reading the miracles of Jesus and thanking God for her special miracle. She encourages others to believe on the basis of her own healing. Her appreciation of God has grown remarkably.”
“Surely she has always appreciated God?”
“Certainly, but now she’s more relaxed in her faith. It’s like she’s living a life and not following a set of rules. You know, people view the Christian faith as a lot of do’s and don’ts.”
“I think life has many do’s and don’ts. Its just that they are cultural customs so we are not as aware of them as those seemingly imposed on us,” he interjected. “Christianity should be a way of living, not a text book study.”
“Yes,” she agreed. “Anyway, I’d better call mum.” Pulling over, she used her mobile and called her mother, informing her they were on their way over for dinner. “…O, anything mum, I know you’re a great cook,” she ended laughing at her mother’s response. “I love you! See you in a mo’.” And ended the call. “Mum’s a gem. She’ll, do anything for me.”
“God is like that. He’ll do anything for you too.”
“Yes, I’m learning that. I am amazed at the different things you can trust Him to take care of. Everything really. When I remember mum I often weep, not because I’m sad, but because I’m overwhelmed at God’s limitless goodness. Thank God that He is.”
“Yes, there is so much we can thank God for but, when we come down to it we are really thanking Him for being, not for doing.” She nodded and they pulled up outside her mum’s home.
Dinner was delightful. It’s not the meal that made it so enjoyable, that was good but the fun and conversation made it more so. Mum had called her minister after the phone conversation, and given him and his wife an impromptu invitation. They had accepted.
The dining room was too small so they had a fellowship meal in the lounge. Filling their plates in the kitchen and proceeding to comfortable lounges to sit, eat and chat. Before they ate her mum read aloud from the records of Jesus’ miracles, they thanked God for the food and pronounced it blessed, and then she said, “Dig in.” and they did.
Towards the end of a joyful evening the minister turned to the businessman and said, “I’m sorry, I haven’t always been kind in my words of you. But I can see that you are not trying to ‘steal the sheep’, and I can’t argue against a miracle. I’d like to invite you to share with our church. I don’t even mind if you share your views on miracles.”
“Views are not important,” responded the businessman. “I haven’t come to set up my own kingdom. I only like to obey the command of Jesus who said, ‘Go and share this good news with the whole world. I give you power over all the works of the enemy. In my name you will cast out devils, heal the sick by laying hands on them, and speak with new tongues. In fact, you will be able to do everything I’ve done, and even more so because I will give you the Holy Spirit when I return to my Father, and you will have power when He saturates you and will be my witnesses.’ I don’t want authority over those who belong to God.”
“I wish we all were as you are. It wouldn’t matter to us then how many preachers there were. Unfortunately too many of us feel threatened by others.”
“I will come and share, but not to give my views. I do not wish to be the cause of unnecessary division. I will seek God for a word of encouragement.”
“Are you saying that you will speak the doctrine of our church?”
“That would be difficult seeing I don’t know what it is, nor am I saying that I will not put forward my viewpoint. What I am saying is, I will not come to force change on the church.”
“That is very encouraging, and a very gentle approach, but I am hoping that you will be able to satisfy the people’s questions on healing in the light of the miracle we have not long ago experienced. It is causing some friction.”
“Alright, with the Lord’s help, I will try.”
It had been set for the businessman to speak at their Sunday evening fellowship and the church’s pastor made extra effort to let his people know. This resulted in an exceptional church attendance besides the fact that friends and family outside the church were invited as well. The partition between the minor and main auditoriums had to be removed to accommodate all the people.
“I had hoped that all the local congregation would come, but I never anticipated this,” remarked the pastor. “Father, I ask you to be in control here tonight,” his prayer followed.
The businessman stood on invitation to speak. There was silence in the auditorium.
“In the book of Romans chapter one and verse nineteen, Paul tells us that God’s ways and work can be clearly seen in the nature He created,” he began, “It is this passage that sparked my interest concerning His miracle working power. I concluded that, since nature is proof of God’s miracle working power then miracles such as Divine healing, deliverance and provision are natural and the lack of such is not.
Firstly I realised that many of my experiences were sub natural (that is, below par, less than what should be expected) and not in line with God’s creation. I concluded that the life I was living was not up to standard and there was much room for improvement.
Now I realised that it was I who was unnatural, not God. God had created nature, as we are told in the book of Genesis, and He made it to function on a certain level. Due to circumstances and choices facing both my ancestors and myself I had fallen below the level of normality but God had provided a way to lift me up again.
Naturally, it is the one we offend that we need forgiveness from. If I wish to forgive someone I might extend to them the hand of forgiveness and friendship (God has done this in the person of Jesus Christ). It is now up to the receiver to take that hand in acceptance of my forgiveness. If they do not they have not received my forgiveness.
Since Jesus Christ is God’s extended hand of forgiveness it is only sensible to accept Him, seeing that we prevent ourselves from receiving forgiveness if we don’t.
Peter further writes in his letter to the Church that God has given us all things by Jesus Christ. Once again this is the natural and practical use of the hand. Most gifts are offered by way of the hand, and so they are received from the hand. Since Jesus is the hand of God it is only natural, and purely sensible that we come to Him for all things.
What we see in all this is that the things of God are natural, and all things not God's are sub natural. Natural things come with life and do not need to be yearned for strenuously. They only need to be received.
Unfortunately we live in an unnatural culture. Through refining and synthesizing we have an unnatural existence. This is our common existence and is why I have so far refrained from speaking of common sense. We do not need common sense, but practical sense.
In this church you have observed God’s nature through a healing miracle. This has caused some concern, and others joy and faith. We need never fear what God is doing. He has put laws into this world, and healing is one of them.
How do we know this? Quite simply, we know because the body is often known to heal itself. God has placed the healing law in the body.
Further to this God calls himself the healer. He said, “I am the Lord who heals all your illness.” Since it is God who heals, why would you not come to Him?
From the Gospel of Matthew we know that this healing is in His hand: Jesus Christ. It tells us there that He (Jesus) took our sicknesses and bore our pains. If you come to Jesus for healing you will receive it because it is the gift of God in Him. Those who refuse such healing refuse God’s gift. Would you refuse the gift God so naturally gives?
Tonight we have gathered here in Jesus name. I am sure that there are many who have some need that God will supply. Forgiveness, healing, deliverance, salvation - You know what you need. I invite you to receive it. Jesus said, “I will be wherever you gather together in my name.” He is here. God’s extended hand is here. You can receive and you will receive.
Don’t be afraid, and don’t doubt. Come now, I know you will not be disappointed.”
[If you are reading this and you also have a need, why not look to Jesus now? He said, “I am with you always…” He’s here with you now. Turn to Him and make your requests known right now.]
Many came, and many received. There was joy that night. No one ostracized, no one ridiculed. Those who disagreed kept silent tonight because they had no opportunity. Tomorrow they may find some. For now they left in silence.
The businessman returned home rejoicing and giving thanks for God’s strength and comfort. “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and don’t trust your own understanding,” he breathed happily.
2004 L. K. Stevenson.
Please pass this on freely. All I ask is that you give credit where credit is due. May others find their healing through this encouragement. Whether you believe this is of the Holy Spirit or not, it is my gift to you of that which God has given me so frequently. May God Bless you, and I still weep every time I read these words.