Changing the Unchangeable

If we’re really made in God’s image (see Genesis 1:26-27), can we change the unchangeable? Is there any greater use of authority than changing the weather? Talk about something “bigger than us.” Could there be any greater miracle?

In a former life, I was doing sneaky government stuff, or more properly supporting sneaky government stuff as a contractor. In order for our mission to succeed, we needed (mostly) clear weather over a 30-day period, on the other side of the world, in a particular place where statistically there was never clear weather at this time of year. It wasn’t looking good for the mission.

So my friend Don P, who had a deep, intimate relationship with Jesus and was one of the Ops Directors, announced at the daily high-level senior staff meeting that we were going to pray for clear weather, and that he believed God was going to deliver. Talk about going out on a limb! He was politely mocked, especially by a peer, another Ops Director named Dave T, who was a devote atheist. Don P and Dave T had some very interesting late night conversations.

Don P and I and others had a prayer group that met at lunch. So we prayed for the weather during that 30-day period.

The next morning at the senior staff meeting, when the big-wigs got the briefing of the previous night’s results, they discovered the weather in that place on the other side of the world had been clear as a bell. “Ok, you got lucky once,” was Dave T’s dismissive response. We continued to pray.

After 8 days straight of perfectly clear weather (which was darn-near statistically impossible), Dave T’s response was a hilarious mixture, to us at least. It was, on the one hand, extreme joy that this unlikely mission was succeeding, but on the other hand, extreme annoyance that God seemed to have something to do with it. He’d come in, shake his head, smile, and just say, “Keep praying”!

Don P had the last laugh.

There were some cloudy days in that 30-day period. In the end, the mix of clouds and clear weather we experienced was exactly the reverse of the statistical prediction. The mission succeeded, and God got the glory, at least between one hard-core atheist and one intense Jesus-lover.

As God’s image-bearers, we can do stuff like this. It should be Christianity 101. And yet far too often we look to supernatural solutions as last resort. Asking for God’s intervention in the natural world, or using the authority he’s given us to command it ourselves, should be the norm.

Another time, closer to home, my brother was doing electrical work with his friend, another electrician named Harlan. I knew (and worked for) Harlan personally, and he really loved the Lord. Anyway they were working on a room addition on a friend’s house as a side job, so it had to get done on a Saturday. But this Saturday was particularly rainy, and you can’t do construction, much less electrical, in the rain, since the addition was just framed with no roof yet.

They prayed when they started in the morning. It rained all over the neighborhood, all around the house where they were working. It literally rained on the houses to each side, but not on their job site.

When they broke for lunch under the covered, back-yard porch, it started dumping. After lunch, while it was still raining on their jobsite, Harlan stood up and said, “Well, time to get back to work.” After he said that, the others watched in awe as a curtain of rain moved across the swimming pool and out of the yard. The jobsite had no rain once again. Harlan was not surprised.

Why do we doubt? Jesus did it when he calmed the storm (Matthew 8:23-27 and Mark 4:35-41). And he said we’d do greater things than he did (John 14:12). Personally, I’d like to try it! Would you?

Action Step: I will be sensitive to situations where the natural world, including the weather, needs to be dorked with. I will listen to the Holy Spirit with expectation and not doubt, and I will pray what and how he tells me, whether by petition or by command. Either way, I’ll expect to see God move, and be surprised if he doesn’t rather than if he does.

How about you? Have you seen something like this happen, where God changed the weather for you? Share your story in the comments. And please share on social media if you think this would bless someone else.

The Authority of Image-Bearers

Recently my partner Ted and I learned something about the authority we have in Jesus as God’s image-bearers.

We were co-leading a Bible study for men (post-abortive recovery) at the crisis pregnancy center where we volunteer in Fredericksburg, VA. Ted was on a business trip in Boston. No biggie, we both have iPads, he could just FaceTime in. I’d set my iPad on a box in Ted’s chair, and it’d be just like he was in the room with us.

The night of the Bible study though, we discovered the wifi at Ted’s hotel was really bad. Not just sort of bad, like three-day-old-leftovers bad. But really bad, like rotten-eggs-sulphur-smell bad. We had been trying for like 10 minutes, but the connection was so sketchy it was dropping literally every 30-60 seconds. This was just not going to work, and it was completely out of our control. Or was it?

We prayed, “Lord, by the authority of the blood of Jesus, we take authority over the bandwidth of this connection, and we ask that you line up angels, wingtip to wingtip between Fredericksburg and Boston, and just shuttle the packets back and forth so we experience no more dropouts.” From that moment on, we had a two-hour connection without a single dropout.

When we finished, we thanked the Lord for protecting our connection, and prayed that he could release the angels now with our gratitude. Within 20 seconds we lost the connection.

Skeptics call that a coincidence. But when you see enough “coincidences” you start to believe. I’ve got a graduate-level degree in mathematics, and I know enough about network engineering to know that what we experienced that night was, without the intervention of God, something statisticians call “statistically impossible.” In other words, it takes a lot less faith to believe that God intervened supernaturally in that situation, because we asked him to, than to believe it was just a “coincidence.”

The point of this true story is that we, as God’s image-bearers, have authority over the natural world. We should use it. It’s who we really are.

Genesis 1:26-27 peeks in on God talking to himself as he made people:

Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, in our likeness, and let them rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air, over the livestock, over all the earth, and over all the creatures that move along the ground.” So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.

So often we just skip over that without thinking about what it really means. But it’s amazing! God created us in his image, his likeness, with his authority over the natural world. Yeah, we gave that authority over to the usurper, Satan, during the Fall in Genesis 3, but Jesus restored it through the cross. We have authority in his blood. Everything submits to his name.

Jesus clearly had authority over nature, calming the storm in Matthew 8:23-27 and Mark 4:35-41, and walking on the water in Matthew 14:22-33. But that was Jesus not us!

Oh yeah? Peter walked on the water, too. And c’mon, if big-mouth Peter could do it… Seriously.

Jesus himself said that we would do even greater things than he did (John 14:12). And the Bible says of itself that these things were written down as examples for us (1 Corinthians 10:11). Examples of what’s possible. Examples of what we should expect. Examples of what should be Normal Christian Life 101.

Action Step: I’ll be sensitive to when things in the natural world need changing, and realize I’m God’s agent of change in that situation. I’ll take authority by the blood of Jesus and command the change that needs to happen. I won’t let fear of it not working hold me back. That’s God’s problem.

How about you? Tell us your story in the comments. What have you seen happen? What prayers over the natural world have you seen God answer? And please share if this would bless someone else.