Yesterday Mark Batterson shared his experience with trying to Force a Miracle. Here's the story's unexpected conclusion — a real-life example of "seek and ye shall find," and how the finding will often surprise ... ye!
I love how this story hints that God is directing the scene, but Mark and his unnamed friends have their roles to play. That is exciting, because it's true in our stories too!
This story is from Mark Batterson's book The Circle Maker: Praying Circles Around Your Biggest Dreams and Greatest Fears.
-Adam Forrest, Zondervan
The strange meeting
I almost said no to a miracle.
A couple who had just started attending National Community Church requested a meeting, and I almost denied the request because they said they wanted to talk about church government. I love talking about the mission and vision of the church. Church government? Not as much! Plus, I was fighting a book deadline, so I didn't have much margin in my schedule. So I almost said no, and if I had, I would have missed out on a miracle.
As we sat in my office above Ebenezer's Coffeehouse, they peppered me with questions about bylaws, financial checks and balances, and decision-making protocols. And while I felt a little defensive at the time, I realize now that they were simply doing their due diligence...
After answering nearly ninety minutes worth of questions, they ended by asking me about our vision. I had so much pent-up passion after talking about policies and protocols that I just let it rip. I shared our vision of starting a Dream Center in Ward 8, the poorest part of our city and the primary reason the nation's capital is always in the running for murder capital of the country. I talked about turning our coffeehouse on Capitol Hill into a chain of coffeehouses, with all the net profits reinvested in missions. I talked about launching our first international campus in Berlin, Germany. And I shared our vision of launching multi-site campuses in movie theaters at metro stops throughout the greater Washington area. Then the meeting came to a rather abrupt and awkward ending. They said they wanted to invest in National Community Church, but they didn't say how or how much. They left, and I was left scratching my head.
A surprising phone call
I wasn't sure anything would come of that meeting, but a few weeks later, they asked my assistant for a phone appointment. On an otherwise uneventful Wednesday afternoon ... I received one of the most unforgettable phone calls of my life.
"Pastor Mark, we wanted to follow up on our meeting and let you know that we want to give a gift to National Community Church." My mind immediately started racing...
"We want to give a gift, and there are no strings attached. But before I tell you how much we're going to give, I want you to know why we're giving it. We're giving this gift because you have vision beyond your resources." I'll never forget that phrase: "vision beyond your resources."
If the vision is from God, it will most definitely be beyond your means.
The rationale behind the gift was just as meaningful as the gift itself. And that rationale has inspired us to keep dreaming irrational dreams. Those four words, vision beyond your resources, have become a mantra for the ministry of National Community Church. We refuse to let our budget determine our vision. That left-brained approach is a wrong-brained approach because it's based on our limited resources rather than on God's unlimited provision. Faith is allowing your God-given vision to determine your budget. That certainly does not mean you practice poor financial stewardship, spend beyond your means, and accumulate a huge debt load. It does mean that you take a step of faith when God gives you a vision because you trust that the One who gave you the vision is going to make provision. And for the record, if the vision is from God, it will most definitely be beyond your means.
Having vision beyond your resources is synonymous with dreaming big. And it may feel like you're setting yourself up for failure, but you're actually setting God up for a miracle. How God performs the miracle is His job. Your job is drawing a circle around the God-given dream. And if you do your job, you might just find yourself standing waist-deep in three feet of quail.
"We want to give the church $3 million dollars." I was speechless. And I'm a preacher.
It was one of those holy moments when time stands still. I heard it, but I could hardly believe it. I was blindsided by the blessing... God's provision came out of nowhere...
It's not our man-made plans that move the Almighty; the Almighty is moved by big dreams and bold prayers. In the awkward silence of my speechlessness, I heard the still small voice of the Spirit. The Holy Spirit hit the rewind button and reminded me of a prayer circle that I had drawn four years before... [Mark tells that story in the post "Lessons Learned from Trying to Force a Miracle."]
Do you want God to surprise you?
Over the past year, I've been repeating one prayer with great frequency: "Lord, do something unpredictable and uncontrollable."
If you want God to surprise you, you have to give up control.
That is a scary prayer, especially for a control freak like me, but it doesn't scare me nearly as much as a life void of holy surprises. And you can't have it both ways. If you want God to surprise you, you have to give up control. You will lose a measure of predictability, but you will begin to see God move in uncontrollable ways!
Anything could happen. Anyplace. Anytime.
- Mark Batterson (@markbatterson)
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Lessons Learned from Trying to Force a Miracle via Mark Batterson
When the Answer to Prayer Is Bigger Than Our Brain via Mark Batterson
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