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Keep an Open Mind That You Can Close

In the small town of Cordova in northern California, a Roman Catholic Church one day became the center of some excitement. A glowing outline appeared on the front wall of the sanctuary. Some were certain it depicted Mary holding the Baby Jesus. Soon folks were coming from miles away to view the apparition. I think the image was caused by the sun reflecting on something in the sanctuary.

It seems wonderful to me, though, that there are plenty of people who are open to the possibility that the image could have been a spiritual phenomenon—a godly UFO. Such folks are living in an open-ended creation. For them, life is not confined to the logical, the explainable, the predictable. Reality is richer when we make ample room for the miraculous, the surprising.

Unfortunately this child­like readiness to see the divine breaking into everyday events goes hand in hand with superstition and vulnerability to those who promise, threaten, and manipulate in the name of God. I'm sure you have heard plenty of stories as evidence of such gullibility. Similarly, I am politely incredulous of those who claim God spoke to them: 'God told me to move to California' or 'God's voice told me to start a ministry to the Tujungas.'

If God does have a private conversation with you, the appropriate thing is to ponder it secretly and personally. If it involves others, you must allow its veracity and meaning to be discerned by allowing trusted Christians to sort it out and assess it.

Surprises do happen. It seems important for Christians to be cautiously open to unusual possibilities breaking through here and there, now and then. Over the years I have heard stirring stories from people of impeccable sanity. Often these stories recount edge-of-the-cliff rescues. Some have felt strong hands lifting them from a fire or auto wreck. Others have sensed a presence, whom they felt to be Christ himself, appearing in a hospital room, bringing a fresh infusion of life and an unexpected recovery.

The alternative is a closed worldview which asserts that all events depend on the canniness of humanity, ordinary processes, or the logic and luck of fate or nature. Such an outlook holds that life is totally knowable and predictable.

So my thought for today is that it is good to keep an open mind. Allow for surprises from God. (I like the term coined by SQuire Rushnell — God Winks.) But also, be ready to close it when appropriate.


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