Thursday, October 8, 2009

The God Who Woos

In The Screwtape Letters, C.S. Lewis spoke of why it is that God does not make it clearer that He exists and is involved with our lives.
You must have often wondered why [God] does not make more use of His power to be sensibly present to human souls in any degree He chooses and at any moment. But you now see that the Irresistible and the Indisputable are the two weapons which the very nature of His scheme forbids Him to use. Merely to over-ride a human will (as His felt presence in any but the faintest and most mitigated degree would certainly do) would be for Him useless. He cannot ravish. He can only woo.*
I have often thought of this quote when I consider the nature of miracles and prayer. Can we ever say that something was truly a miracle? And by miracle in this context I mean a "perceptible interruption of the laws of nature."#

Many times we are left wondering. We pray for pain to go away and it does but would the pain have gone away even if we had not prayed. We ask God to do something about a stripper bar that is a particular blight on a community and an offence to women and it suddenly closes down. Was it just a coincidence? We pray about a mass seen on a CT scan and the next imaging with MRI shows no evidence of the mass. The doctor asserts that the first imaging must have been wrong. Or was it? We pray for a terminal disease to progress slowly and it does. Is it the medicine or is it a miracle? We have ample evidence that God sometimes works behind the scenes in ways not apparent to the average observer. Take a look again at the Wedding at Cana (John 2:1-11). Jesus turns water to wine and yet the chief steward of the banquet is not aware that a miracle has occurred.

I often think that miracles could be explained away by coincidence, delusion, or fakery. Yet, what if God does His miracles such that He does not over-ride our human will? Lewis says that God's felt presence in any but the faintest and most mitigated manner would indeed over-ride our will and cause us to have no other response but to bow before the One who had limitless power over our lives. Instead, God leaves the results ambiguous. He woos us with the possibility that He might be out there working behind the scenes to hear and answer our prayers.

*Lewis, C.S. The Screwtape Letters. New York: MacMillan Publishing Co., Inc, 1980, p. 38, 39.
#http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Miracle

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