If you don’t believe in miracles, you will never fully experience inner peace. If you are not willing to be vulnerable enough to allow space for a miracle to happen, you are unlikely to experience a miracle either. It’s a chicken and egg situation where the answer, fortunately, is very clear. You need to be at peace first with uncertainty. Of course. How can we expect a miracle if we are able to make things turn out the way we want ourselves?
My father told me a story of a miracle that happened to him when he was 18 years old in 1948. He was drafted into the Dutch army to fight a war in Indonesia, a country who wanted independence from their Dutch colonial masters. He heard many horror stories of soldiers captured, tortured and killed by native Indonesians. His own cousin died this gruesome way. He did not want any part of this war but opting out was not an option.
He resisted the draft by claiming a bad knee, one that had been legitimately hurt by a large rock falling on it. The army doctors dismissed the knee and declared him fit to serve. In his heart, he was determined not to go. however, his fate for the next 2 years was sealed. His older brother was already there. Strangely, his second oldest brother was eager to go but was never called up.
The time of year was Easter. His father, a devout Catholic, suggested he go on an annual pilgrimage to Hakendover, Belgium. The bus left on Easter Sunday and returned on Monday. Hakendover is the site of an old stone church first built in the 7th century when three virgins were led to a spot where flowers bloomed, no matter how cold or snowy. My father decided to go.
The entire bus ride and trip was filled with prayer. In typical Catholic fashion, the Rosary was recited countless times by the entire busload of faithful Christians. He recalled it as a time of peace for himself.
Less than a week after he returned home, a large manila envelope came from the Dutch military. His parents had already opened it. They said nothing but simply handed it to him. He opened it and began to read it. He was being called up. He would have two weeks in which to say his good-byes. His heart sunk. Then his father, seeing his son’s reaction, reached over and pointed out one small detail. The name on the document was his second brother Theo and not his own, Leonard.
In his joy, he forgot about his trip to Hakendover. After a day or so, his father asked him if he thought this happy outcome was a coincidence or whether his trip to Hakendover has made a difference. The scales fell from his eyes in that moment. His prayers had been answered and it was not a coincidence. He went on the retreat accepting that he would be sent to war. God had other plans.
Happily, the war itself ended just one month later. His older brother never had to go and his oldest brother Harry returned home safe and sound. For my father, he experienced that miracles do happen and God is real. But only when we are fully surrendered to the possibility that we will not get what we want.
I have had many experiences that for me are miracles. But they only happen when I know I cannot stop the end result that I don’t want from happening. When I am fully surrendered that I can do nothing on my own strength, God reveals himself and his presence. Not always and not in my timing of course. It wouldn’t be a miracle if I could get a predictable outcome by surrendering. Miracles happen when we are at peace that no miracle will occur, yet continue to believe one is always possible. Only then, will we be at peace when our own definition of a miracle fails to occur. Only then, will we know that our faith runs deep.
We must believe miracles can happen and we must be surrendered. Jesus himself could no miracles in his own hometown. “Jesus said to them, “A prophet is not without honor except in his hometown and among his own relatives and in his own household.” And He could do no miracle there except that He laid His hands on a few sick people and healed them.…” (Mark 6:4-5)
Jesus often asked people if they believe in miracles first. “Jesus said to them, “Do you believe that I am able to do this?” They said to Him, “Yes, Lord.” Then He touched their eyes, saying, “It shall be done to you according to your faith.” (Matt 9:28)
The First Rule of Inner Peace calls us to be neutral about outcomes. When we are neutral, we are at peace if things go left or things go right. When we can see no way that things could go the way we want, miracles are most likely to appear. When they do, we feel loved by God himself. This is a soul-quenching experience that I hope you will give yourself permission to experience with someone who seems difficult in your life. However, our surrender must be true and pure. We cannot fool God while we are secretly attached to getting what we want. We must be 100% at peace that we will not get it. That is my experience over 18 years of practicing the First Rule of Inner Peace.
Take the leap.