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 three hundred dollars “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. (But more about that in a later chapter.)
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 three-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 in the pages ahead. 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 you had played an active role in delivering God’s provision for a young man’s desperate need. Better yet, imagine a lifestyle of such encounters, where God works through you in unexplainable ways to do a miracle–and on a regular basis.
This kind of life is not only possible but is what God thinks of as normal when He thinks of you.
You see, He did not place you on this earth to notice Him at work only once or twice in your whole life. He did not create you to consistently miss out on the wonder of His presence and power.
The truth is, you were born to live a supernatural life doing God’s work by God’s power. You were born to walk out your door each morning believing that God will use you to deliver a necessary miracle today.
This book will show you how.
The Everyday Miracle Territory
When it comes to miracles, most people I know see the world as divided
On the far left is a region we could call the Land of Signs and Wonders. In this land amazing miracles seem to happen a lot, although only for a select few. Mostly this world reveals itself on television, in a few unusual churches, and in faraway places. Still, Signs and Wonders is a remarkable place. In this land the blind regain their sight and invalids throw away their canes to run around like school kids.
On the far right is the Land of Good Deeds. Nobody is putting on a show here. Fortunately, though, the place is full of good people watching out for each other, doing good works. And certainly God is pleased with that.
Interestingly, in Good Deeds land a lot of people believe in miracles and spend time studying them. They just don’t expect to actually see any miracles, much less be a part of them on a regular basis. When they praise God for miracles, they’re grateful for things that occurred long ago. Good Deeds land doesn’t dazzle like Signs and Wonders, but things are more manageable there. More predictable.
What’s the one big disadvantage in good Deeds land? God rarely shows up in a supernatural way. Why would He? No one is expecting the miraculous, and besides, everything is running just fine. Or so it seems.
Which land would you say you live in most of the time?
A large majority of people live in the Land of Good Deeds. Even though some would say they have experienced meaningful personal miracles in the past–at a point of spiritual awakening or in a time of crisis–they believe those experiences are rare. More important, they believe we don’t have a role in whether one happens again or not, so there’s no point in leaving the house today on the lookout for one.
What I want you to realize is that if you live in either land I’ve described, you’ve overlooked the most promising region of all. You see, between the dazzle of Signs and Wonders and the duty of Good Deeds lies a broad and promising middle ground.
In this book we call this in-between land the Everyday Miracle Territory. Here people believe that God wants to intervene–and does–in supernatural ways in human affairs on a regular basis. Here unmet needs are seen by ordinary people as golden opportunities for God to show up, and to do so through them, at almost any moment. They’re not waiting for special powers for themselves or for God to part the skies on their behalf. They have experienced miracles and know beyond doubt that miracles are for them and others like them, right here and right now.
Those who live in the Everyday Miracle Territory have already made two
One is full of hope. Everywhere they look, in every situation, they see potential for an unforgettable “God-incidence”–not a coincidence but a moment when God steps in to meet a real need through them in a way that only He can. Some days it actually feels as though God has a pile of miracles ready to be delivered!
Their other observation is full of dismay.
They are nearly alone.
Would you agree that few people today are living in Everyday Miracle Territory? I wrote this book to help you see that the land of personal, everyday miracles is your rightful home turf. Instead of focusing on the nature defying acts that God is able to do, this book invites you to encounter the miracles that God does do on a regular basis–and to embrace your exciting part in partnering with Him to make them happen.
You’ll discover that what God chooses to depend on for these divine encounters is simply a willing servant. No previous experience required. No record of perfection. No special religious gift or qualification. In this book we call these refreshingly ordinary folks “delivery agents” for God. They are men and women who say to Him, “Please send me to do Your work by Your power today!”
That’s exactly what Jimmy said.
Jimmy the “delivery guy”
Jimmy is one of the most down-to-earth men I’ve ever met. He can fix anything, find anything, make do with anything. You’re stranded with a handful of folks on a desert island? You want Jimmy in the handful. You want to program your iPhone to walk your dog? Jimmy’s your man. Just don’t ask him to spend time over tea talking about relationships or contemplating the meaning of the universe.
The first time Jimmy heard that he could cooperate with God in supernatural events on a regular basis, he thought, Not likely.
He worked in construction, after all, not ministry. He struggled to come up with even one time in the past ten years when he could say with certainty that the supernatural had clearly showed up. The idea of a lifestyle of miracles felt about as real to Jimmy as taking a road trip through an asteroid belt.
But over the course of a You Were Born for This conference, Jimmy realized that he really did want to learn how to partner with Heaven to do God’s work on earth. Taking a big step into the unknown, he committed himself to being God’s delivery agent when and where he was called upon.
The next morning, while Jimmy was dropping off windows at a job site, he struck up a conversation with a carpenter named Nick. Nick let it be known that his marriage was on the rocks and that he didn’t hold out much hope. He just seemed to want to vent.
Normally Jimmy would have expressed sympathy for a man in that kind of misery, then quickly steered as far away as possible from such a sensitive topic. This time, though, Jimmy hung in there. He listened, identified with Nick’s struggle, asked a few questions. Then, sensing that the man’s heart was open, he asked a simple but miracle-inviting question he had learned at the conference: “Nick, I really want to help you. What can I do for you?”
Without hesitation the carpenter said, “You could tell me what to do next. I’m tied up in knots, but I really want this marriage to work.”
Jimmy panicked. Tell another guy how to fix a relationship? Not likely! But he took a deep breath and then took an outrageous step of faith. “Why don’t you get something to write with,” he told the carpenter, “and when you come back, I’ll tell you how to save your marriage.”
The truth was, Jimmy was stalling. He didn’t have a clue what he was going to tell Nick. But as he explained to me later, he was holding on to a couple of things I had said at the conference: “Relax, the miracle is God’s to do, not yours” and “Give God a minute.” Something or Someone seemed to be leading the way in this conversation with Nick, and Jimmy was determined to follow.
When the carpenter returned, Jimmy heard himself saying, “You need to go home and make your bed.”
Jimmy had no idea where that had come from or what good it was. “That’s all have to say,” he told Nick apologetically. “I guess you don’t even need to write it down.”
But the carpenter was staring at Jimmy with his mouth open.
“How did you know?” he gasped. “That is a giant source of conflict for us! I’m the last one up, and I never make the bed. My wife says it’s a sign of everything that’s wrong with the marriage. I don’t get it. But you know what? I’m going to drive back at lunch and make the bed before my wife gets home.”
To me, this story demonstrates God’s willingness to do a personal miracle if we are willing to deliver one. Nick wasn’t expecting help from a stranger. And Jimmy didn’t think he had help to give. What he had, though, was a readiness to pass along what God prompted him to say.
But the best thing the story shows is God’s heart. He cares about the personal struggles of a carpenter named Nick–and He wanted Nick to see that. He cared enough to show Nick a practical step he could take that might say more to his wife than a love letter and just might turn things around for the couple.
All He needed was Jimmy, delivery agent.
Doing what God wants done
You might be like Jimmy, completely unprepared and unqualified but ready to try something different. You may have grown up in the church and have a long list of religious accomplishments to point to. You may be like Nick, uncertain that God exists or that He cares for you. But Heaven works in ways that seem to apply no matter what our spiritual mind-set happens to be.
Perhaps you’ve heard about my book The Prayer of Jabez. It shows how a little-known prayer from three thousand years ago can still result in great blessing and influence for God in our time. Millions bought the book, prayed the prayer…and were astonished at what God began to do in their lives. One reason the message of that book resonated with so many, I believe, is that it made ministry (which simply means doing what God wants done in the world) accessible as a way of life.
Jabez lived in ancient Israel. The Bible says that he was “more honorable than his brothers,” but as far as I can tell, it wasn’t because of his superior spiritual status. Perhaps he was “more honorable” because he asked with all his heart for God to do for him and through him exactly what God already wanted to do.
And the Bible says, “God granted him what he requested.”(1) Through the prayer of Jabez, millions learned to ask God to expand their territory of influence for Him and then to put His hand of power on them. Not surprisingly, as soon as they took these brave steps, people started seeing miracle opportunities all over the place. And thousands wrote excitedly to me to report what was happening.
Here’s what I want you to see: The Prayer of Jabez showed ordinary people how to ask God to greatly expand their opportunities to serve Him. You Were Born for This shows ordinary people how to be intentional about and skilled at inviting the miraculous into the midst of that larger life.
Think of You Were Born for This as Jabez to the miracle power.
For all the Jimmys and Jabezes in the world, this book reveals in practical terms how God works supernaturally through His willing partners to make a difference in people’s lives. It’s the most rewarding and significant life imaginable!
Wouldn’t you know it, in answer to my own prayers during those years, God expanded my territory beyond anything I could have imagined.
He sent our family to Africa.
When good deeds aren’t enough
In 2002 my wife, Darlene, and I experienced a clear call to move to Africa to tackle some of the most daunting challenges of our time. “Will you go?” God said to us. “Will you care?”
This was happening during the busiest months of my speaking and writing about Jabez. Why would God ask us to leave behind an exploding ministry based on a book He was so clearly blessing? We didn’t understand it.
You might think that someone who has studied the character of God in graduate school and dedicated his life to serving Him wouldn’t be surprised when God radically redirects his life. I will confess that until then I had enjoyed a lot of clarity about what God had called me to do. I saw myself as a Bible teacher, leader, and disciplemaker. My publisher saw me as an author. And that was that.
But almost overnight we experienced a spiritual awakening to the needs of a continent. Poverty. Prejudice. Hunger. AIDS. Orphans. God seemed to be saying to our family, “My heart breaks over these things. I want your hearts to break over them too.”
Without knowing what it might mean, we said yes. Then, believing we had been called to a three- to five-year personal mission, we said good-bye to friends and family and moved to Johannesburg, South Africa.
What does this have to do with You Were Born for This? From the start we knew that trying to meet any one of those needs would be far too big a task for us. God would have to show up in extraordinary ways or nothing of significance would get done.
And He did. We started not by asking, “What can we do?” but by asking, “What does God want done?” We set some high-risk goals in the areas of greatest need. Our ministry plan expected–even depended on–God to intervene. Finally we set about working with others, including charitable groups, African organizations, government agencies, churches, and thousands of First World volunteers, to meet faith-stretching goals. Of course not everything we tried succeeded. But we kept asking for miracles and taking risks of faith, and God did show up, as I’ll share in the pages ahead.
By the time we returned to the States, our thinking had changed in two important ways.
First, we’d become convinced that good deeds alone will never be enough to meet the desperate needs of our time. This is true whether the needs are personal or global in scope. We simply need more of God. We desperately need miracles!
Second, we had learned that it’s often longtime Christians who resist miracles the most. Many have stopped expecting miracles, asking for them, or even knowing how to partner with God to invite them. In other words, they have abandoned the Everyday Miracle Territory and often measure success by how little they need God.
As you’d expect, the consequences of limiting what God does on earth to what we can do for Him are disastrous. Just look around. The most pressing personal and global needs go unmet while a generation asks, “Where is God? Doesn’t He care? Does He even exist?” But it doesn’t have to be that way.
Miracles are for everyone
You Were Born for This is a bold initiative to reclaim the miraculous as a normal way of life. Through biblical insights, true stories, and practical how-tos, I’ll show you what that new normal could look like for you.
In part 1 you’ll see why everyone you encounter has an unmet need that God strongly desires to meet, very possibly through you. You’ll discover that the Everyday Miracle Territory is real–and you’re standing in the middle of it.
We define a miracle as “an extraordinary event manifesting divine intervention in human affairs.”2 It’s true that most of us will never be empowered by God to heal someone or walk on water. The Bible is clear that not everyone has been gifted to carry out such miracles. Yet the Bible is also clear that we are all invited to do God’s work by God’s power. That’s why in this book we only focus on the personal miracles that are within the reach of all of us.
I’m audacious enough to call these miracles predictable. By that I mean that when we do God’s work in God’s way, He reveals Himself to be a miracle-working God. I mean that miracles will take place so regularly that their occurrence will seem predictable to you–not because of how or when they occur but because they will occur.
In part 2 you’ll be introduced to four keys to a life of miracles. They will enable you as a delivery agent for God to
• make a very specific, urgent request;
• understand and accept His miracle agenda for you;
• know how to partner with an unseen power;
• take a promising but life-changing risk.
In part 3 you’ll discover practical advice on how to deliver a miracle to someone in need. First you’ll learn five universally identifiable signals that will guide you in your partnership with Heaven. Then you’ll learn five steps for delivering a miracle. When you learn and apply these truths regularly, you can invite God to do a miracle through you for anyone at any time.
That’s a startling statement, isn’t it? But as you’ll see, God is so intent on meeting people’s deepest needs that He is always looking for volunteers who will become living links between Heaven and earth.
In part 4 you’ll be introduced to three more keys that unlock what I call special delivery miracles. These miracles meet needs that matter to everyone: finances, life dreams, and forgiveness. Each chapter is based on surprising insights from the Bible and is illustrated with stories you’ll find both instructive and highly motivating.
You Were Born For This will change how you see the world and what you expect God can and will do through you to meet real needs. You will master a few simple but powerful tools and will come to say with confidence, “I want to partner with Heaven to deliver a miracle to someone in need today–and now I know how!”
If that’s what you want, I invite you to turn the page.
From the Hardcover edition.
Excerpted from You Were Born for This by Bruce Wilkinson with David Kopp Copyright © 2009 by Bruce Wilkinson with David Kopp. Excerpted by permission of Multnomah Books, a division of Random House, Inc. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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