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Why does this surprise you?

April 18, 2015

I’ve just been to the most amazing place. I’ve been to a spring. A pool with water bubbling, and gurgling up at the centre. It was hypnotic watching the silt stir and settle. It felt almost magical to watch (see photo below). Strange really given that I know a little about ground water hydrology. I know about water sinking through permeable rock and being held by clay or impermeable rock until flows out again. I know all that, but it was still a wonderful surprise to see, to really see with my own eyes.

It was very like the first time I inspected my hive and found honey being piled in. I had only been beekeeping for a few months, and I’d had my own bees for less than that. But there it was; beautiful golden amber coloured liquid. I know it seems stupid – that is what bees do – they make honey. But my bees were making honey. Honey that ran onto my fingers and dripped as I inspected the hive. Why was I surprised – I don’t know. Perhaps despite all the obvious evidence to lead me to expect the bees to do what they do, it was still amazing to see it happening for real and to me.

‘Why does this surprise you?’ These were Peter’s words to the puzzled people who had just seen a crippled man healed (Acts 3.12). In the power of Jesus, Peter was able to bring this about. I suspect that there were a few secret smiles among the disciples when they heard Peter speak. It was only a short time since they were surprised themselves (Peter too though I suspect he tried to hide it!) – surprised by the sudden appearance of Jesus in their locked room. They were not just surprised, they were terrified!

What a turn around. They had been hiding and felt utterly defeated. Now here they were walking boldly up to the temple. A crippled man has just been healed and Peter talks to the people as though this was no more amazing than water bubbling up from a spring or bees making honey. Why are you surprised? God has raised Jesus from the dead, so why are you surprised by the mere healing?!

Why am I surprised still when amazing things happen in his name. When I see or hear of people being healed today: Why am I surprised? I shouldn’t be. I have all the evidence of the Bible that God can do amazing things. But that all seems to be for special Christians. Not an ordinary man like me. Why would God do something like that for me or even for me to see? This is even more stupid because I know that the Spirit can act in power, I’ve seen it myself.

So really the question should be, ‘Why wouldn’t he?” Why would the Holy Spirit suddenly stop doing the things he has been getting on with doing for the last 2,000 years? I know God heals. He healed my daughter when she was little. He has done amazing things in my life. He has guided me clearly to where I am now and he continues to guide me. I know his presence in me, working on me, loving me into being a full Spirit filled human being.

I know all of this but still I doubt at times. I listen to the doubters and the mockers and then a cold starts to seep into me like cold water into clothes. They seep in and make me go cold inside. The doubts seep in and I stop seeing and hearing all of the good things that God is doing. To change the metaphor; it is like walking from a sunny day into a cold damp cloud.

Then, thankfully, the Spirit comes to help. The Spirit dries me off; lifts the weight of those doubts and I begin to see properly again. I feel like a soggy dog being blow dried! Or like being led to walk back out of the cloud and into the sunshine once again.

Then I think again, ‘Why was I surprised’? Why was I surprised by God’s actions? I see community being built here where I live and minister. I see love beginning to grow. I see lives being transformed and healed by the presence of the Jesus.

I smile and feel as though the sun is shining brightly on me. Then a cloud comes over again. Some unhealed sickness, or untimely death, or bitterness and harshness between people of God. Then I’m tempted to question God’s power again. Then the Spirit comes down again – The Son comes out.

Why am I surprised? God’s action and healing are as natural as bees making honey:

Why are you downcast , O my soul? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Saviour and my God. Psalm 42.5

Why, why indeed? Said now with a smile and a laugh in my voice. Why indeed?20150418_101728

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