Tuesday, February 22, 2005


The line was funny. Maybe it wasn't theologically correct, but it was funny. The movie was Oh, God! and the line came from the title character, portrayed by George Burns. The discussion was about miracles, and Burns, as God, talked about how there aren't many miracles anymore. The line was, "The last miracle I did was the '69 Mets!" Now I really believe there were a few miracles in between the Miracle Mets of 1969 and the release of Oh, God! in the mid 1970s. But the line was funny - especially coming from the lips of George Burns.

I did a ton of driving today. It was one of those days when everything I had to do was miles away from home. As I drove, I heard over and over again about what happened 25 years ago today. An incredibly young group of college hockey players took on a team from Russia in the 1980 Winter Olympic Games and came away with the most incredible upset in sports history. The kids from America beat what was essentially the Russian professional team 4-3. There was no way this should have happened. The Russian team regularly beat NHL teams and NHL all-star teams. The only way a group of Americans could take them out would be if a miracle happened.

A "miracle" did happen.

I was a senior in high school. Going to school in Indiana in the wintertime meant basketball. On that Friday night I was at a home basketball game at my high school, playing in the pep band. My friends and I had been following the Olympic hockey games, but we understood we would miss the game where Russia would thump us so we could play for the basketball crowd. In the third quarter, the public address announcer was handed a note: "I have this score from the Winter Olympics in Lake Placid. In hockey, Final score: USA 4, Russia 3." For a couple of minutes basketball was forgotten. The crowd began the chant which had been echoing through Lake Placid, New York, "U-S-A! U-S-A!" National pride was as swollen as a stream near the end of the spring rains.

The saga of the 1980 U. S. Hockey team has been pegged as the "Miracle on Ice." The recent movie about the team was simply called, Miracle. The term "miracle" sure seems to be tossed around in a cavalier manner. Do we still see miracles today?

May I share a miracle with you? It involves a 38 year-old woman named Sarah Scantlin. In 1984, she was hit by a drunk driver leaving her severely injured and unable to speak. The only way she could communicate was by blinking her eyes - once for no, twice for yes. Then, twenty years after she was run down, a miracle happened. There's no other way to put it. Last September, out of nowhere, Sarah spoke. Not just once, but many times. The staff didn't even tell Sarah's parents for fear it was some kind of fluke. But it wasn't.

Sarah Scantlin's story is just one miracle. I'm convinced there are plenty more where that came from. Some miracles go completely unnoticed by us. Sure some things that people try to pass off as miracles can be explained away by science and the like. But there are too many times when I've seen doctors shrug their shoulders and say, "I don't know how it happened, but everything is alright."

We don't always get the miracles we want though. People still die while friends and relatives pray for that elusive miracle. And sometimes the big miracle don't come, yet the miracles are found in the little things.

And there are times when a little miracle would be good enough. If you are unaware of the situation of Terri Schiavo, please read some of the things being written. The short version is that Terri is mentally handicapped after a medical episode a few years ago. Her husband, who now has started a family with another woman, wishes to take Terri "off life support" to let her die. The catch is that "life support" is Terri's feeding tube and water. So letting Terri die means that her husband wants her to starve to death. Why? Because he says she wouldn't want to live a life like she is living now. Tomorrow the feeding tube is scheduled to be removed. Terri won't last more than a week without nourishment.

While I would want to see a true miracle happen -- Terri regaining more mental capacity -- I would be happy with a little miracle. That little miracle which would allow Terri to continue her life in a care center with constant support from her parents. That's the miracle I'm praying for, and I invite you to pray also. Read more about Terri Schiavo here.

Sometimes it's not the flashy miracles which are the most important. The Miracle Mets and the Miracle on Ice are sure showy and worthy of celebration, unless it's your team getting beat. But the true miracles, like Sarah Scantlin's recovery are those which should have the greatest effect on us and on our faith. But don't be fooled. God is still doing miracles. He still cares about our plight. And where He doesn't provide the miracle, He always provides the strength to carry on. Believe me, He does not desert us.

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