Everyone keeps asking me: “How can I have a life of miracles like you?” Since I’ve received the same basic question several times this week (mostly in reference to my recent Africa trip), I thought I’d answer everyone at the same time.
I’ve found that only two things are necessary for a life of miracles: (1) faith and (2) obedience.
If you were looking for something more complicated or “spiritual,” then I’m sorry to disappoint you. I’m sure there are plenty of other ministers who would be happy to give you a more fanciful answer, if that’s what you’re after. As for me, I’ll stick to what works.
“But I have faith and obedience, and I still don’t have a life of miracles.”
No, you don’t.
Offended? I hope so. Sometimes our flesh needs to be offended before we’re willing to send it to the cross with Jesus. Notice how Jesus dealt with His disciples:
Luke 17:5-6–The apostles said to the Lord, “Increase our faith!” And the Lord said, “If you had faith like a mustard seed, you would say to this mulberry tree, ‘Be uprooted and be planted in the sea’; and it would obey you. (NASB, emphasis mine)
In other words, Jesus was saying, “What faith? How am I supposed to increase something that isn’t there? First get faith–even a little bit; then we can talk about increasing it.”
And how did Jesus identify faith?
Power. The mulberry tree would obey. The mountain would be moved. Faith–the kind Jesus demonstrated and preached about–produces results. “Faith without works is dead.” (See James 2:17 and 26.)
A life of true faith will produce results. And if that faith is coupled with obedience to the Lord, then it will produce the right kind of results. James and John wanted to call down fire on the Samaritan village who didn’t welcome them. (See Luke 9:51-56.) Thankfully for that village, these disciples tempered their faith with obedience.
The key to making this all work is humility. Humble faith and obedience can be summed up in one simple statement: “I am nothing; Jesus is everything.”
That’s it. That’s my “vision statement.” That’s why I see miracles. If you think that you’re something, then “good luck on your journey.” If you think that you have anything of value to offer (other than Jesus Himself and the power of His Holy Spirit), then you’re in for a rude awakening.
Theology is great, but I’d like to see the typical theologian do what I did in Uganda. That’s not pride; it’s my way of making a point. I didn’t do what I did because I have perfect theology. I did what I did because of plain old faith and obedience. I had nothing to offer from myself, but Jesus was with me and He did the work.
Notice what happened immediately after Jesus ascended into heaven:
Mark 16:20–Then the disciples went out and preached everywhere, and the Lord worked with them and confirmed his word by the signs that accompanied it. (NIV, emphasis mine)
We simply go, and Jesus does all the work!
I know full well that I could have been killed in Africa for doing what I was doing–especially for doing it the way I was. I don’t recommend confronting witchdoctors or Muslim imams if Jesus isn’t with you. I’m not talking about simply believing theologically that He’s with you. I’m talking about Him actually being with you. And I especially don’t recommend it if you’re all alone, surrounded by people who don’t believe what you believe.
But if Jesus is truly with you, then you’re far from alone. One pastor said to me, “I’ve never seen a white man in the bush who wasn’t accompanied by the military or armed guards.”
The truth, which I told the people, was this: “I do have armed guards; but you can’t see them. They’re called angels.” Evidently, this was true. Throughout two weeks in Africa (living in a rural village and eating their food), I never once became sick. I was outside every day under the equatorial sun, but I was never once sunburned. Not even the mosquitos were allowed to bother me (even though our base-village is about a mile from a huge swamp). The muslims and idol-worshippers who were opposing the evangelistic meeting didn’t succeed at silencing the Gospel. The rain and washed-out roads couldn’t even stop us. Jesus was present. He did the work. I was just along for the ride.
Most of you, though, aren’t thinking about Africa. You want to see the power of God right where you are. Piece of cake. The same rules apply. You are nothing; Jesus is everything.
Have faith. “Without faith, it is impossible to please God…” (See Hebrews 11:6.) In its simplest form, faith is a relationship of trust. If you truly trust God, then faith will lead naturally to obedience. And as you carry out your obedience with faith, maintain humility. Make sure Jesus is seen more than you are. He is everything. We are nothing.
There it is! It’s that simple. Now you know how to have a life of miracles.
In closing, I want to give you a preview of a book I’m currently writing titled Limitless Hope. This is a sample from the chapter about evangelism:
“Limitless hope” causes us to look for opportunities to share the Gospel in radical ways. “Expected disappointment,” however, causes us to merely live a good life so people might ask us about it.
The latter is what many Christians tend to do. We tend to spend our efforts figuring out the least we can do for Jesus rather than throwing ourselves completely into our faith and letting God pull back the reigns. Rather than looking for opportunities to share the Gospel and allowing God to stop us (like Paul in Acts 16:6), we look for opportunities to entertain ourselves while telling God that He’s welcome to interrupt those plans.
We are soldiers, sent to the frontlines, who are sitting in our camp and commenting about how wonderful it is to be a soldier. Every now and then, one of our fellow soldiers goes out into the battle and returns with amazing stories of victory. The rest of us stay sitting in the camp, marveling at what that person experienced. “I wonder why I never have experiences like that? I sure wish God would send me to do something amazing.” Have you forgotten? You were sent to the frontlines of battle! Why are you waiting for another commission? The King has already commanded us to go!
We tend to look for the path of least resistance. When water follows the path of least resistance, it takes a very long time to produce changes. It gradually erodes at nearby surfaces until they’re smooth. But the change is generally only surface-level. On the other hand, when something like a flash-flood or tsunami occurs, the torrent of water is moving with too much speed and too much volume to merely follow the path of least resistance. Instead, it plows through everything. More than surface-level issues are changed. Trees are uprooted. Cars and trucks are thrown. Buildings are demolished.
First John 3:8 says that the reason Jesus came to earth was to destroy the devil’s work. As ambassadors of Christ, we share this same mandate. If we’re just “good Christians,” then we’ll visit people in the hospital and make them feel loved. If we’re just “good Christians,” then we’ll mow our neighbor’s lawn or shovel snow from their driveway as an expression of kindness. If we’re just “good Christians,” then we might gradually erode away at the surface until the person decides they want to change.
But if we embrace our roles as commissioned soldiers—if we choose to move forward with the authority and power that have been granted to us—then things will change. The people we visit in the hospital will be healed. We’ll stick around after mowing the neighbor’s lawn and prophesy truth into their homes—possibly leading them to Christ. Rather than gradually eroding at the surface, we bring people to a crisis of faith—a point of decision. We place before them life and death, and we urge them to choose life.
Be encouraged to get out there and do something! If you have faith, then do something with it. I would recommend that you start with obedience to the “Great Commission,” which is essentially to “Go into all the world and preach the Gospel…” Start with your coworkers or classmates. Start with your family, friends, and neighbors. Just go!
Have faith. Be obedient. Stay humble. Jesus will be with you. Miracles will follow.
Jesus is everything.