ednesday evening, a couple of productive lines of conversation emerged during The Men’s Room gathering at my church (First Presbyterian of Brandon). The guys and I are reading, as I’ve posted before, a book featuring selected meditations from the writings of C.S. Lewis.
Typically, I field a lot of light-hearted complaints about the archaic language, the obtuse references, and the frequent incidences of “I don’t have enough active, on-task, brain cells to follow C.S. Lewis’s complex sentence/thought/paragraph.” I tend to call this phenomenon OBM, or “obfuscation by milieu” (meaning the difference between how people thought, reasoned, and expressed themselves as we compare mid-20th-Century Oxford with Brandon in 2013!).
Part of our discussion centered on miracles, and the other on the word “theophany.” It turns out it was essentially the same conversation.
MIRACLES: Lewis’s writing about the supernatural turned on his observation that miracles are, by definition, unprovable. So-called evidence either holds up or is dismissed not by virtue of scientific verification but the “philosophical views we hold before we even begin to look at the evidence.”
As our conversation progressed, I asked the guys to share examples of the miraculous in their own experience. Testimonies ranged from literally hearing the voice of God, to physical healing, to the birth of a child.
“I have a possibly useful definition of ‘miracle,’” I said, responding to what felt to me like the prompting of the Spirit. “How about anything and everything we experience because we know Jesus? Think about how your life is different today because you follow Jesus; could we not then say that everything that is attributable to our identity as a ‘Jesus-Follower,’ every single day, is a miracle?”
THEOPHANY: One of the reasons I enjoy reading Lewis so much is how he not only enriches my vocabulary but encourages me to plumb new depths of thought and understanding. The word theophany means, essentially, “the appearance of a god to a human.”
Lewis used the word in Letters to Malcolm, chapter 15. I immediately reviewed the stories the guys had been sharing and pointed out how they were all examples of theophany.
“Theophany is, I believe, the most profound miracle we can experience,” I said. “A healed relationship to God, experienced in our everyday lives, is the heart of The Greatest Story Ever Told. It is the undergirding miracle that makes every other miracle possible. It is the reason Jesus came, and the reason Jesus continues to live in and through us.”
This is why I always urge people to share a fresh, simple “God moment” from the past few days, not a standard or clichéd ”testimony” from the dusty spiritual archives. There may not be a game-changing theophany waiting for us at every single turn of our day, but there is a God patiently waiting to at least be invited into the conversation.
And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. (Ephesians 3:17-19)