OUR OPINION: Discovering news ways to empower change

By NEMS Daily Journal

The Methodist writer and theologian Wessel Bentley, a South African who lives in Pretoria, released a new book late in 2012, “The Miracles of Jesus: Meditations and Prayers for Lent.”
Bentley has said those miracles of 2,000 years ago can still change lives today.
Many agree with Bentley; many don’t.
Finding out more, he suggests, is one good reason to journey through Lent, the season of prayer, self-denial and reflection in the weeks before Easter.
In an interview about the book, Bentley said, “Each miracle has a profound life lesson, which, if embraced, leads to personal transformation on a much grander scale. … To me, Lent is all about the process of letting go, leading to rebirth and new beginnings. To see change in people, the transformation from those moments of release to embracing something new which God leads us to is nothing short of miraculous. I am sure you have heard people say ‘I will never change’ or ‘They cannot change.’ Lent is the perfect journey in the Christian faith where that can be proven wrong. People can change! The miracles supply us with testimonies of how, when we open ourselves to the touch of God’s love and presence, we can experience renewal. … If we want to change during Lent, I believe that the miracles hold a timeless effect of making us think about more than the obvious in the miracles.”
Bentley also suggests miracles as usually understood – as unexplainable facts – are limiting.
“To me, miracles refer to moments of unexpected transformation, those times when a person’s life is touched by the love and presence of God and they are changed forever. Not only are they changed, but this blessing spills over into the lives of others as testimonies are shared, attitudes change and perceptions are transformed. These are the greater and more lasting miracles we encounter.”
Bentley also offers this observation:
“I think we make the mistake to believe that as soon as we are able to explain something, it ceases to be a miracle. Granted, spectacular and instantaneous miracles are not the order of the day, but what about recognizing the love and presence of God in that which we perhaps take for granted? The miracle of birth and life, or the miracle of a recovering alcoholic or the miracle of modern medicine to me are testimonies of transformation which are beyond our control, but perhaps not beyond our understanding. To take God out of these, to me is claiming for ourselves that which we cannot achieve on our own.”
Bentley also suggests a visible miracle from his own culture: the transformation of South Africa after apartheid, the kind of racial divide with which most southerners share some kind of memory and perception, perhaps retaining old animosities.
Bentley comments, “With Job I stand astounded by God, not knowing the answers, and I think that those who claim to have answers miss the complexity of life. The words in the Bible, ‘Now we see in a mirror dimly,’ are quite apt for what I am trying to say.”
The journey through Lent sometimes clears spiritual vision.