Put Your Fists Together and Pray

“Miracles happen. But between such mountaintop moments, we must all traverse the predictable valleys of the mundane.”

Susanna took the money upstairs, laid it out in front of her and prayed. She thanked God, repented for doubting his power to provide, and told him it was his money, not hers.

Susanna was surprised by how many people—even senior Christian leaders—struggled to accommodate the notion that God could, or would, do this kind of miracle. “I discovered that a lot of people believe God can make trees but not paper! They believe that story where Jesus uses a fish as an ATM, because it’s in the Bible [Matthew 17:27], but doubt that God would ever choose to do anything remotely similar today. I think it’s because money is such a stronghold in our materialistic mind-sets,” she says. “We worship money, we put our faith in it. If God can make money so easily, our currency gets devalued, our value system is undermined; our idol comes tumbling down.”

We may accept the vast miracles of creation, resurrection, and salvation whilst doubting the smaller miracles of healing, guidance, protection, and provision. We trust God for our eternal salvation yet struggle to believe that he will sometimes still intervene in ways we can’t explain when we cry to him for help.

Three days after discovering the cash, a friend asked Susanna to show her the cupboard. Susanna opened the door laughing, but then she froze. Another 200 Swiss francs had appeared out of nowhere on top of the boiler. “I freaked! There was no way that we could have missed any remaining money the first time. We had checked every millimeter of that cupboard, you can bet on it!” It was as though God was just adding a little extra, playfully blessing his daughter and enjoying her surprise.

The next morning Susanna got up early, opened the cupboard again, and found another 200 franc bill. Susanna just handed the money to her friend. “This is for you—I don’t need any more!” At that moment she made a solemn decision to give away whatever else God provided through the cashpoint he’d installed in her kitchen. And of course, inevitably, whenever friends came to visit they would all ask to see the cleaning cupboard as if it was some kind of holy shrine.

Eleven days later, Susanna hosted a meeting to plan a youth conference with her friend Michael. When he arrived he went straight to check the cupboard like everyone else. There was nothing in there, so Susanna laughed, he closed the door, and she made tea. Minutes later they were standing in the kitchen, drinking the tea, and discussing the conference, when a gentle shuffling sound suddenly came from the cupboard. They froze for a second, looked at each other, and lurched for the door.

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Michael opened it and gasped. Another 13,600 Swiss francs lay scattered on the floor of the closet which they had checked just minutes earlier. “Michael and I never did manage to prepare our conference that day,” recalls Susanna. “We were on our knees laughing, crying and thanking God.”

That was the last cash to appear in Susanna’s cleaning cupboard, but overall, in less than a month, a total of 28,000 Swiss francs—a year’s wages—had materialized, on four different occasions, witnessed variously by Susanna and three of her friends.

Susanna paid her rent and taxes, then gave the rest of the money away. As she did so, many of her friends and family who didn’t know Jesus seemed to believe in God’s power to provide supernaturally more readily than some of her Christian friends. One pastor actually admitted that he didn’t want it to be true because it would destroy his theology. Susanna just replied, “Hallelujah!”

The Power of Normal

Susanna told me these stories, and I confess that I checked my own cleaning cupboard on more than one occasion! The 24-7 movement had significant financial challenges at that time. I couldn’t understand why God didn’t just make the money materialize for us, the way he’d made it for Susanna. But as I thought about this, he taught me one of the most important lessons I have ever learned about money.

The fact that God can create bank notes supernaturally at will means that when he chooses not to do so (which, let’s face it, is pretty much always), it is because he wants to provide for us in another way. Generally, God prefers to bless us through relationships, allowing money to flow from person to person through generosity and merit. In fact, the word currency, which we use to describe money, derives from the Latin correre, meaning “to run.” It has given us our modern term for the current in a river, or an electrical current, or a “common currency” of ideas.

Money is designed to move around, to flow dynamically between people, whether through a monthly wage, a commercial exchange, or in the form of a gift. Money loses its purpose as a catalyst for creative exchange when it is allowed to stagnate, merely accruing interest in a bank or becoming a number on a screen. Nine times out of ten, therefore, God chooses to provide for our needs—whether financial, medical, or emotional—naturally through people, not supernaturally through angelic visitation, manna from heaven, or cash materializing in cupboards. This may be less mysterious, but it is actually ultimately far more creative and relational. As one theologian says, God tends not to work by “violently ripping into the fabric of history or arbitrarily upsetting the momentum of its powers,” but rather “within and through the closely textured and natural historical processes of our modern experience.”

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Susanna prayed for rent, and God provided for her needs. Floyd and I prayed for our kids, and their lives were miraculously spared. The Smith sisters prayed for young people in the Outer Hebrides, and revival came to their land. We prayed for God’s help in marketing a book in America, and he lined up an interview with Rolling Stone. Miracles happen. But between such mountain-top moments, we must all traverse the long, predictable valleys of the mundane.

If our days were continually punctuated with the kind of supernatural interruptions described in this chapter—if our prayers were all immediately granted—we would be like spoiled children with weak bodies and rotting teeth. We are strengthened and matured by seasons of boredom and even pain that demands perseverance. In fact, it is often during these unglamorous, in-between times that we mature; our faith fills up into faithfulness, we learn to push into community and into God’s presence, which is, after all, the greatest miracle of all.

Taken from Dirty Glory copyright © 2016 by Pete Greig. Used by permission of NavPress. All rights reserved. Represented by Tyndale House Publishers, Inc. To learn more, visit www.navpress.com/stories/dirty-glory

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Pete Greig is a writer, church planter and bewildered founder of the 24/7 prayer movement. He heads up Emmaus Road with his wife, Sammy, serves as vice president for Tearfund, and was part of the senior leadership team at Holy Trinity Brompton in London for seven years. He loves art galleries, live music and knocking down walls.