by Tad Lindley
Some preachers tell you, “Name it and claim it”. The skeptics among us call that type of message “blab it and grab it”. It is the concept that, as born again children of God, we ought to be able to have so much power in our prayer life, that whatever we speak must happen, and if it does not happen, then we are lacking in faith. If we tell God that we want a $350,000 a year job, then he will automatically get it for us. If we tell God that we want a nicer truck, one will show up in our driveway. It denies the fact that Jesus always knows better than we do. We might not need a better job or a bigger truck. Sometimes his answer is, “No”. The truth of the matter is, regardless of the size of our faith, God’s “No” will always be bigger than our faith.
Apostles did not always get miracles
This may burst your bubble, but all of the apostles died. Did you catch that? All of the apostles died, most of them violent deaths. Surely there were saints praying for them, but nevertheless, they died. Sometimes God doesn’t work a miracle.
Most of us want a microwave Jesus. We want to be able to pop our prayer into the throne room, press the “one minute” button and have an instant miracle. Unfortunately, Jesus did not say, “Pick up your magic wand and follow me.” Here is what he actually said: If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me (Matthew 16:24). Sometimes God doesn’t work a miracle.
Miracles are still happening
The Bible states quite clearly, that among the signs that would follow the church is that they shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover (Mark 16:18). I have seen it happen. I have seen a man paralyzed on one side of his body get up and walk out of the hospital after two Christians came and laid hands upon him calling on the name of Jesus. And yet at the same time, I have laid hands on the sick, called on the name of the Lord and seen them die. Sometimes God doesn’t work a miracle.
A miracle at the Jordan
Let us look at two very similar situations in scripture. In the first, Joshua is leading the Jewish people into the Promised Land (Joshua 3). To get there, they must cross the Jordan River. They happen to reach the Jordan during high water. It was flooding, and the water was up to the top of the banks. The priests who carried the Ark of the Covenant were out in front of the people. As the feet of the priests dipped into the flooding river, the water was stopped upriver. The entire nation of Israel crossed on dry ground!
God withholds miracle at Jordan
In the second situation, a group of mighty men, nukalpiat, were coming to rally around David (I Chronicles 12:8-15). They were in the perfect will of God; they were trying to establish David into the kingship for which the Lord had chosen him. It seems only fitting that these men were worthy of a miracle as much as their ancestors that had come upon the Jordan River over 400 years before. But there was to be no such miracle for them. The water was faster and the flood was deeper.
When this group of men came to the Jordan, they might have expected that the Lord would grant them a miracle. It would have been good faith for them to expect it. For some reason, the Lord withheld the miracle. Now they could have acted the way some of us would, “If God is not going to work a miracle for me, then I’m just going to quit and sit down right here.” That is not what they did though. They pressed on through the flood. Yes, their clothes got wet. Yes, they could have died. Yes, people would have sympathized with them if they had waited another month for the water to subside, but they were men on a mission, they were called of God: they had picked up their cross and were following him.
I want you to notice something very important: both groups of people made it across the Jordan in spite of the flood. The first by a miracle of God, the second by the power of God to sustain them. The first is an awesome testimony of the Lord to command the elements and bend the laws of physics. The second is a testimony of the power of God to turn ordinary people into heroes.
Has God withheld your miracle?
Someone you know may have prayed, and her husband quit drinking and fell in love with Jesus right away. It may be years now, and every time you come home from church he is sitting on the couch playing Halo III in a haze of bong smoke. Brother, you might know someone who was born again and his wife followed after him, but even while you read this, yours is spending the stove oil money at the bingo hall. Perhaps you know someone who was instantaneously healed of cancer and even though you have served God, your body is withering. I am sorry that God has not parted your Jordan, but if he has not parted it, it is because he knows that with his strength you can make it to the other side. If we are willing to pick up our cross daily, it will come to pass what is written: I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me (Philippians 4:13).
Tad Lindley is a minister at the United Pentecostal Church in Bethel, Alaska.