In You Were Born for This, Bruce Wilkinson, author of the best-selling The Prayer of Jabez, reminds us that God regularly makes miracles happen. What Wilkinson also wants believers to understand is that God wants to use us to bring about these miracles in others’ lives.
“The truth is you were born to live a supernatural life doing God’s work by God’s power,” Wilkinson writes. “You were born to walk out your door each morning believing that God will use you to deliver a necessary miracle to someone in need. You were born for this.”
Featured in The Buzz is an excerpt from Wilkinson's new book. (Click here to purchase You Were Born for This.)
A New Way to See the World
You were born to expect a miracle today
What if I told you I’m certain you missed a miracle yesterday? And not just any miracle but one that heaven wanted to do through you to significantly change someone’s life for the better—maybe your own?
I would understand if you were doubtful. But right alongside that doubt, most of us can identify a nearly universal experience. Almost everyone in the world—whatever their religious belief—can point to an event in their lives that seemed directly orchestrated by heaven, that seemed impossible to explain without using words like “I can’t believe what just happened! That was a miracle!” We call these experiences divine coincidences, miracle moments, supernatural provisions. Whatever we call them, we tend to value such events so highly that we recount them over and over, often for years. “I’ll never forget the time … ,” we say, or “Sooner or later my daughter is going to tell you about … ”
Why do we remember such events so clearly? I think it’s because we feel that we have been touched by heaven. It’s as if God Himself stepped through the curtain that separates the seen from the unseen to make something wonderful happen for us, something only He could do. But here’s the best part. In the experience we hear a personal and unforgettable message from God. Something like: I’m here. I care about you. I can do for you what you cannot do for yourself. Beginning with this near-universal experience, this book asks a few simple but intriguing questions:
• Why are these experiences of the miraculous so rare for most people?
• What if heaven actually wanted you to experience them on a regular basis?
• What if ordinary people like you and me are invited to partner with God to deliver miracles to others?
If these questions put a picture in your mind of people everywhere walking around expecting to be a part of miracle moments on a regular basis, you’re not far wrong.
A mysterious encounter
Let me tell you about a mysterious encounter I had in a restaurant outside Denver with a waiter named Jack. I call it mysterious because on the surface everything looked so ordinary. Five friends at a table for six, waiters coming and going, voices, clatter—just what you’d expect in a busy restaurant. But by the time dinner was over, we all knew beyond a doubt that we’d been present for a divine appointment.
It was as if God Himself had walked up and said: “Thank you for saving Me a place. I’ve been wanting to do something for Jack.”
Here’s what happened. During the course of the meal, Jack had served us well. But apart from the usual exchanges about the menu and our orders, we hadn’t spoken much. Around the table, meanwhile, the conversation revolved around some of Jesus’ more extreme teachings—ones like “Ask, and you will receive” and “It is more blessed to give than to receive.” During the conversation I felt unexpectedly nudged by heaven to try something I’d never done before. At the same time I sensed it was meant to involve Jack.
My experiment involved putting $300 “at risk.” Now, don’t let the amount throw you. The money wasn’t mine, and believe it or not, the person who was letting me carry it around was expecting me to give it away.
When Jack came by to refill the water glasses, I posed a question. “Have you ever heard the saying ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive’?”
“Yes, I have,” he said.
“Do you believe that?”
“Sure, I guess I do,” he said, looking puzzled.
“Good!” I said. “I have an interesting opportunity for you.” I placed a hundred-dollar bill on the table. “You have an unusual choice, Jack. You can either receive this hundred dollars as a gift, not a tip…”
I paused. I definitely had Jack’s attention, and the two couples with me didn’t appear to be breathing. I looked at Jack. “Or you can say no to the money and instead give each of us a dessert. But this would be you buying the desserts, not the restaurant. You can’t do both things, and there’s no right or wrong. So what would you like to do—give or receive?”
Jack just stood there holding the water pitcher. He asked twice if I was serious. Then finally he said, “I’ll take the hundred dollars.”
True to my word, I handed him the bill.
“Thank you,” he said. Then he walked back to the kitchen.
After he left and my friends started breathing again, we all tried to figure out what had just happened. Was my unusual test about giving and receiving even fair? What was Jack thinking now? And what in the world was he saying to the crew in the kitchen?
All the while I was feeling increasingly uncomfortable. You see, earlier I had slipped another two hundred dollars under my plate. If the waiter had chosen to buy us desserts and not take the hundred—believing that it is more blessed to give than to receive—I was going to give him the hidden two hundred dollars. I had really hoped he would make the self-sacrificial choice because I’d strongly sensed that God wanted to encourage him with the larger sum.
The next time he came around, I said, “I’m curious, Jack. Do you feel like you made the right choice?”
“Absolutely!” he said excitedly. “In fact, it was a miracle. You see, I’m a single dad.” He pulled out his wallet and proudly showed us a photo of his 3-year-old son. “Isn’t he something!” he said with a big smile.
Then he explained his reaction. “I have to work three jobs during four days of the week just so I can take care of my son the other three days when my ex-wife works. But I’m having a tough time making ends meet. Just this morning I had to mail my alimony check of a hundred dollars even though my account was down to zero. Driving to work this afternoon, I actually prayed, ‘God, please! I need an extra hundred dollars, and I need it tonight!’ ”
Well, I was speechless, and so were my friends. How could we have known of our waiter’s crisis or of his prayer for a hundred dollars? Then it was my turn to explain. I told him that even if he had decided to give instead of receive, I’d planned to give him the hundred dollars. “But now that I know your story, I agree. You made the right choice.”
Suddenly I knew what needed to happen next. “You have to know that none of this money was mine,” I told him. “The owner wanted me to pass it on as a kind of message to the right person. And I’m sure that person was you.”
I reached under the plate for the other two hundred. “Obviously God wanted you to have the hundred dollars, and He wants you to have this too.”
What God thinks is normal
What just happened here? Let’s break it down:
• Jack drove to work that evening to wait tables, but he brought with him a secret, pressing need.
• I had come to Colorado from Atlanta on business and ended up having dinner with friends in Jack’s restaurant.
• Unbeknown to Jack or my friends, I was prepared to meet someone’s financial need with money that wasn’t mine.
• By the end of the evening, God had used one person to deliver something that met a big need for another person—and in a way that was clearly miraculous to everyone involved.
You might react differently to what happened around that table. You might think, for example, Well, I don’t have a hundred-dollar bill lying around. And if I did, why would I give it to a stranger? For that matter, how would I figure out whom to give it to?
We’ll look closely at these reactions and more like them. You’ll see, I promise that God is just as likely to have plans for five dollars or twenty dollars as He is for a hundred dollars and that He never asks you or me to serve Him in a way that doesn’t fit us personally and perfectly.
For now, though, put yourself in the story of our dinner with Jack. Imagine how you would have felt leaving that table and knowing God had used one person to deliver something that met a big need for another person—and in a way that was clearly miraculous.