Archived Story

Do miracles exist?

Published 8:26pm Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Last week was the beginning of Lent.

Traditionally, the purpose of this Christian observance, which occurs between Ash Wednesday and Holy Thursday, is to prepare the believer through prayer, penance and sacrifice for the celebration of Easter.

Of course, Easter is the Christian observance of the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. The miracle of Christ’s victory over death is the very cornerstone of the Christian faith.

Considering the Lenten season is a prelude to Easter, it’s not surprising my thoughts have recently turned to miracles. After all, miracles are mentioned throughout the Bible and are a big part of Christian faith and belief.

Still, many people often question whether miracles are real. By definition, a miracle is something that violates the laws of nature. Because we all live in an age dominated by scientific thought, it just seems natural to assume a miracle is impossible.

This type of thinking influences even religious people, who believe the miracles of the Bible occurred during a special time in history when God was directly interceding in human affairs, although this type of direct intervention has ceased today.

From my perspective, I’ve always had a sense that God can perform miracles. But, I too have felt that direct intervention, like what is recorded in the Bible, does not happen these days.

As I considered all of this last week, my thoughts turned to an event I experienced back in 1986 that seriously challenged my beliefs on this topic.

At the time, I was living in Birmingham and had several friends who loved to spelunk, which simply means they enjoyed exploring caves. As some of you may know, North Alabama is blessed with many limestone caves and a bunch of my friends invited me to go on a two day trip they had planned to the region.

I accepted without hesitation, looking forward to the adventure.

Once we arrived at the cave entrance, I was informed our group was going to attempt a “breakthrough,” which simply meant we were going to try and enter another, larger cave by finding a hidden entrance located somewhere in the smaller cave.

After several hours of climbing over rocks and scurrying through very small holes, we found ourselves in a chamber with hundreds of large rocks, piled on top of each other at least 30 feet high.

For some reason, the leader of our party believed we could access the larger cave by removing a few of these rocks. However, once he started moving them, a huge boulder fell on him. As you can imagine, we were stunned and didn’t know what to do.

None of us could really think straight due to his screams. So, we arranged ourselves in various positions around and over the boulder and tried to lift it, or roll it, off of him.

Nothing worked.

As we all began to despair over our predicament, we decided to try one more time. As we strained with all our might, I looked up and noticed a hand from slightly above my position reach around the boulder. As soon as it touched it, the rock moved off, almost effortlessly.

Relieved our friend was now free, we began the long trek back to the surface. Unfortunately, he had several broken ribs and was in a lot of pain as he tried to walk. Plus, we were hopelessly lost. We wandered for another 17 hours searching for the exit. By the time we eventually found it, we had been underground for over 24 hours.

As we travelled back to Birmingham, we began to talk about the experience, especially how we suddenly managed to move the rock.

I mentioned the hand that I had observed and all of us tried to figure out whose hand I had seen. The problem was that no one could remember anyone being in that exact location. Someone finally observed it must have been an angel, because all of us were praying for a miracle.

To this day I often wonder if I observed the laws of nature being broken. To be honest, I still think it surely must have been one of my friend’s hands that moved the rock.

Then again, I really don’t know for sure.

Roger Steele is general manager and advertising director of The Outlook.