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The Shelf Life of a Miracle

 

Every miracle has a shelf life. It doesn’t matter how amazing the provision of the past, we still have the capacity to doubt God’s provision for the future. I just heard a friend of strong faith say, “In light of the miracles I’ve seen, you’d think I’d never struggle with any doubts, but I’m embarrassed to say that I do.”

It’s almost like watching a movie once, then wondering whether the rerun will be the same! Even if we believe that God can meet a need, we often wonder whether God will meet a need. I don’t know anyone who never doubts God’s willingness to intervene. I’ve experienced it, you’ve experienced it and Scripture illustrates it.

Take the familiar account of the Lord’s miraculous feeding of the 5,000. Every Sunday School kid has heard the heartwarming story of how a little boy’s lunch of five small loaves and two small fish became the catalyst for a massive miracle. We all love that story, but we often miss what happened shortly after that. In some ways there may have been a greater miracle in the one that followed―at least for me it was a more intriguing one.

While the next miracle wasn’t greater in size, it was greater in impact. It was the feeding of 4,000. These were separate events: one taking place in the spring and the other in the summer. However, even though the first miracle had unfolded a mere six months earlier, the disciples still wondered, “Where would we get enough food here in the wilderness for such a huge crowd?” (Matthew 16:33)

That reminds me of me. I can resonate with the doubts of the disciples. Even though God has abundantly provided “bread” in the past I still wonder about “bread” for my future. After all, that was then and this is now!

Bread always has a shelf life no matter the shape. The bread provision may be financial, relational or even inspirational. I remember driving home after a particularly inspiring Sunday worship service, thanking God for His provision, only to anxiously wonder what I was going to preach the next Sunday. That’s not all. Even after seeing God work in amazing and even miraculous ways through one of the largest cash offerings ever received in a local church, I soon wondered what the financial future might bring. Even though God had grown us through a series of tumultuous pastoral challenges, I still feared what the next crisis might bring.

When it comes to “miracles” I have a very short memory. It’s easy for me to be just as doubtful as the early disciples in the New Testament or even the Israelites in the Old Testament―to whom Moses said, “. . . be careful, and watch yourselves closely so that you do not forget the things your eyes have seen or let them fade from your heart as long as you live.” Forgetting is not a new problem. It’s the reason Scripture is packed with the sort of reminders that we all need. Reminders like this one in Lamentations 3.

The faithful love of the Lord never ends!
    His mercies never cease.
Great is his faithfulness;
    his mercies begin afresh each morning.
 
I say to myself, “The Lord is my inheritance;
    therefore, I will hope in him!”

Every time I experience a major breakthrough of “bread” I need to remember that it’s time not to dread the future, but to anticipate that yet another will soon be on the way.

Grace and Peace,

Alan Ahlgrim
Director of Pastor Care
Blessing Ranch Ministries

Testimonials
"We were able to spend a week at Blessing Ranch Ministries. It was an amazing week! . . . . We learned SO much during this week. It was a great opportunity for rest, reflection, prayer, reading and seeking wise counsel. We were blessed beyond words! Each day we would have sessions with Dr. Walker, time to reflect, homework (a lot of reading), and amazing dinners each night. . . I grew so much in my personal faith journey during this week." Missionary, Dominican Republic
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"I was burned out, overwhelmed, and anxious when I arrived at the Blessing Ranch Ministries; I left feeling validated and hopeful, with a deeper awareness of who God is and who I am." Youth Pastor, Wisconsin
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