“Who believes God performs miracles?”
The group of baseball players, attendees at the weekly Chapel service, all raised their hands.
“Who believes God can do a miracle in your life?”
“Who believes God will do one right now?”
The athletes looked at one another, unsure of what to do. If they didn’t raise their hands, were they denying that this speaker had a special connection with God? If they did raise their hands, was the
miracle dependent upon their faith being powerful enough to make it happen?
The guest evangelist, sensing their confusion, removed a banana from a plastic bag and asked the crowd, “How many of you believe that God can split the fruit of this banana into thirds without
altering the peel in any way?”
The ballplayers were dumbfounded. After all, God could do anything He wanted, so He certainly “could” perform such a miracle. Slowly, the men raised their hands.
“Good,” the speaker continued. “I’m going to pray that God does just that. I’m going to ask Him to slice the meat of this banana into thirds without making a mark on the skin. How many of you are confident God will answer my prayer?”
Surely it was a trick. Or was it? No one moved.
The speaker spoke to their doubts. “You probably think I’m messing with you, right? To prove I’m not, I’m going to pass this banana around the room. Check it carefully. See if there are any external marks on its skin.”
Each ballplayer took his time studying the banana. No one could find any puncture or marking. While the players sat on the edge of their seats, the preacher took the banana, raised it high, and prayed for it to be cut into thirds when peeled. As he broke the top portion of the banana’s skin and pulled it back, one piece—approximately a third—fell onto the table. The same scene replayed itself as the skin was peeled further. Three pieces. Just like the miracle worker said.
My son Adam, a player in that room, phoned me from the clubhouse.
“Mom, I just saw a miracle.” He proceeded to tell me what had happened. Although skeptical—only because I wasn’t sure why God cared about a banana dividing itself into thirds—I was thrilled for my normally unexcitable son to be so pumped about what he had witnessed.
A few days later I relayed Adam’s story to my girlfriend. “Patty, that’s an old trick,” she said. “A threaded needle is pushed through the banana by working in a circular motion. With enough punctures, it creates a cut, and the skin heals itself so the pin marks can’t be detected.” I couldn’t believe it. The ballplayers had been deceived. My friend was as bothered by this evangelist’s tactic as was I.
I shared my findings with Adam so he could discuss what had happened with the chapel leader who organized the visiting speakers. I told him what bothered me most was that God doesn’t need any help in the miracle department. No tricks. No manipulation. Jeremiah 10:12 speaks to His authority: But God made earth by his power; He founded the world by His wisdom and stretched out the heavens by His understanding. His abilities are endless. For goodness sakes, He produced ten plagues to force Pharoah’s hand, provided manna for millions of Israelites wandering in the desert, saved Daniel and his friends from a fiery furnace, and made Himself man to redeem a lost humanity.
In retrospect, I hope the intention of the pastor was to excite his audience about God’s power and not draw attention to his own ability to be used by God. I feel bad that he was so desperate to prove God is still in the miracle business. On the other hand, I would like to think my girlfriend was wrong; there was no needle and thread and this man’s prayer was answered.
Yeah. I would like to think that.
I just don’t.