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Jesus chased a devil out of a synagogue by speaking two simple sentences, stopped a squall at sea in the same way, healed a woman with a hemorrhage simply because she touched his clothing, brought a dead girl back to life with a command, fed a crowd of roughly 10,000 women, children and men with one small meal, and restored sight to a blind man by spitting in his eyes and putting his hands on them, according to the New Testament. And that’s just from one gospel (Mark).

There’s enough material to keep mystics swooning and critics swearing for quite some time. Such biblical reports inspired Broadway to label him “Jesus Christ: Superstar.” They inspired Thomas Jefferson (yes, the founding father) to exorcise his New Testament of all miracles as part of his own edition of the Christian scriptures. And they inspired one gospel writer to end his story this way: “Jesus did many other things, as well. If every one of them were written down, I suppose that even the whole world would not have room for the books that would be written” (John 21:25).

But there is one thing Jesus never did for anyone. He didn’t do it for a blind man, a deaf man, a dead girl or hungry throngs. He never mashed the boundaries of a lifetime together. On the other end of every happening, somebody had to puzzle out what to do for the rest of life. What to do with new eyes, new ears, a new life, or simply what to do in response to unexpected largesse.

You can quibble over the legitimacy of miracles all you want. Two plain truths persist. At some point, most of us catch an unexpected break. Call it a new start. And then you have to decide what to do with it. The real miracle comes when you stop looking for miracles because you start to see them everywhere you turn.

The Rev. Eugene Stockstill is pastor of Ebenezer United Methodist Church and Myrtle United Methodist Church in Union County.

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