Why Can’t we Believe?

Supernatural events abound in the scriptures. Amazing encounters with angels, healing, resurrection and rainbows. We read of countless miracles of Christ throughout his life. Even a fig tree wasn’t immune to his powers. Scriptures also record supernatural experiences of a less-than-holy kind too. Satan and his little helpers had their grips into people in many ways. I imagine watching Christ walking around on two legs was quite upsetting for the Evil One and he truly fought back. Filling people with demons, sickness and all forms of bad stuff.

Evangelicals accept the miracles in scripture as fact and accept Satan’s workings as fact yet struggle to notice or believe that equally supernatural events can happen to us today. When they do, we call them “miracles”. I wish there were another word for it. I would like to think that miracles would be an every day occurance and something we come to expect. I wonder why we can’t believe. Not “believe in…” or “believe that…” or “believe on…”, but simply Believe. Period. I wonder what would happen if we took God at his word. That he can, will and does intervene in miraculous ways if we pay attention. We limit God to our North American version of what’s comfortable and let him “work through us” or “in us” and that’s fantastic…but we stop there and fail to let him simply work wonders all by himself.

My most vivid encounter with the supernatural happened in Penang, Malaysia. I was 15 years old. A Hindu man who worked at our school invited a small group of us to come witness his firewalk at Thaipusam. (Click this link for more information and pictures). This Hindu festival celebrates Lord Murugan and followers go to ask him for things or to thank him for answered prayers. My friend had asked the god Siva the year before for a son. His wife had given birth 10 months later and now he needed to go thank Siva by performing some rather atrocious physical acts as an offering to his god. His plan included walking the hot coals and pulling his son on a wagon behind his back around the island. Attaching the wagon to my friend were long cords with hooks on the end which he embedded into his back. It is an honor to be asked to attend and watch. (Pictures here of Penang Thaipusam).

We made our way to the temple and up onto a balcony of a house right outside the courtyard. I will never forget the smell of the incense and hashish that assaulted us out there. It was a fantastic smell and below us, participants were going into their trances. The loud Indian music was beautiful and awful at the same time. Quite bewitching in fact. We watched our friend with the head of the temple chanting and singing and breathing in incense. We watched him turn into a puppet with no control over himself. We watched a demon take him, I think. The next two hours more and more men did the same things. Skewering themselves with sharp rods, walking fire coals and other hideously painful acts of contrition. But…no blood and no pain. The doctors on the island said that very few Thaipusam participants come in after the event for medical attention to their wounds. Most of them simply have no marks at all to show.

Towards the end of the walk, we made our way down to the temple courtyard to greet some people we knew. I have never felt heavier in my life. As though evil had a taste and it was trying to shove itself down my throat. I can tolerate heavy incense and the hashish wasn’t too bad…but the heaviness was physical and unrelated to the smells. We were surrounded by painted men, their wives, families and many many children. Suddenly we heard someone screaming and the crowd in front of us parted wide. The high head of the temple was standing a few yards ahead screaming at us to leave. “Get out! You are Christians! You will ruin everything!” was basically the message we heard. So we did. But in that moment, we knew we were surrounded by something far greater than ourselves. I wasn’t afraid. I felt such peace as though I could fight anything these people threw my way. I had a power greater than theirs and they weren’t going to win. Then, a rush of sadness pushed down on me and I wept the whole way home.

Later, our Hindu friend at the school told us that people at the temple that day could see something different around us. We had a light or a presence that was following us as we walked around. And THEY were afraid of US!

My supernatural God visibly walked with me that day. We had prayed for protection and we got it in buckets! I have never doubted his presence since then. There is truly a battle going on for our souls in the air around us. I think if we reached out far enough, we might touch it sometimes.

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