It was a life changing experience to deliver the sermon at the request of the church board on July 20, 2008, three weeks after our beloved Rev. Eric Allison suffered a massive stroke. Though still in the hospital, Rev. Allison was very present and somehow knew the scripture in advance through no mortal media.

In preparation for Sunday’s talk, entitled “Evidence for Faith,” I thumbed through three randomly selected sections of the Bible. I spent about a half second on the first opened page in Revelations, a second or two on the next, and quickly settled on the third, which had the word “faith” in a subhead.

The bold subhead in Jeremiah 2 was “Israel’s Unfaithfulness.” I read down to 2:8, and in about three minutes decided on Jeremiah 2:6:

“Your ancestors refused to ask for my help,

though I had rescued them from Egypt

And lead them through a treacherous, barren desert,

Where no one lives or dares to travel.”

It was the one and only sentence from the Bible in my sermon. I was about to learn a little scripture goes a long way. We had just come back inside from our first group photograph taken outside of DanceWorks studio in Redmond, WA, where we had been meeting for the past few years. Before reading the verse, I explained how casually it was selected and made a joke with the congregation that maybe I didn’t have enough faith to go with the first page I randomly turned to in the Bible.

After reading the scripture to the congregation that Sunday, John Clowry perfunctorily raised his hand. John said that when visiting Rev. Allison in the hospital approximately 5pm the night before, Rev. Allison directed him to read the Bible. Rev. Allison could not walk, read, utter more than a few words, and only had use of his left hand. John said he read the Bible to Rev. Allison for five to ten minutes. But the passages John read were apparently unsatisfactory to Rev. Allison, who reached for the Word, thumbed through it and pointed for John to start at the same exact sentence – Jeremiah 2:6.

Standing before the congregation, I was stunned and slack jawed. This was too significant to be coincidence, but I didn’t know what to do with it. I clung to my planned sermon, while my mind tried to assimilate what happened. In retrospect, I wished I had the courage to abandon my agenda, accept the miracle presented, and talk about it. Like Saint Peter, I did not have the level of faith I thought I did. I wished I had the courage to toss out my agenda and exemplify then and there God’s presence. I would later attack myself for sticking to my agenda, unable to face and glorify the Lord’s actual presence in my life. However, my naïve and authentic reaction could have been necessary for the audience to believe what happened. 

The message of my sermon was that faith is not for lack of evidence, but our inability to handle the truth. It was me who could not handle the truth. Unable to practice what I preached, I staggered on while my mind raced for a logical explanation. Rationale clicked in a recursive error.

1) Who knew of the scripture I chose a week before: Garry Kersten

2) Is it logical Garry shared it with John, no, but if he had, Rev. Allison could not repeat orders

3) Do I know John as someone who would lie about this – no

My attempts were futile to suggest John would have a motive to deceive me. Of course I wouldn’t want him to. I am quite fond of him and his Buddhist ways. But my proprium was reaching anywhere for a logical explanation. I realize suggesting John would lie is preposterous, and it demonstrates my desperation to find a way out. But just suppose on the outskirts of reality, John made it up. Why? To yank my chain and get a rise out of me? But my dear friend John attributes the scripture synchronization to a weird coincidence, not a miracle. Thus my inane notion of his fabrication dissolves, for if he were trying to ‘stir me up,’ he would be supporting the miracle theory.

Rev. Allison and I are both fans of Star Trek. In the final episode of Star Trek Voyager, “End Game,” the young Kathryn Janeway must concede her older self visiting from the future isn’t Species 8472 metamorphosed into an imposter. John’s precious denial of the miracle was the last step of my acceptance, like when Captain Janeway assimilates the truths brought back from her older, Admiral self.

John repeated his certainty of Rev. Allison’s actions twice when I interrupted myself later in the sermon. I asked John if they were just similar words from a different verse in the Bible. My eyes grew misty as they often were lately. Mouth agape, completely aback; my gaze drifting away from the direction my head turned. There was probably a look of concern on my face, as the implications of deeper faith are immense. I also may have grinned and giggled a little…

Return to the Master

The Tuesday after my sermon I went to the hospital with my daughter Rylie to visit Rev. Allison for the first time since his stroke. Surely Rev. Allison who is so well educated on the Bible had a very good reason to choose the verse. “Was it a favorite?” I would ask him. It took a while after greeting him for me to understand how serious my friend’s faculties were compromised.

In brain scientist Jill Bolte Taylor’s “My Stroke of Insight,” she discusses a cosmic connection that resulted during her stroke, which suspended the left, logical side of her brain. Rev. Allison’s stroke was also on his left side, which affects the right side of the body. It should be no surprise that a holy man in a holy state of mind was moved to reveal Sunday’s verse from the Holy Bible.

Rev. Allison pronounced “no” and “yeah” so clearly, I expected him to continue in elegant discourse, but those were about his only words. It wasn’t clear that he understood the story I told him. He could not begin to explain why he chose Jeremiah 2:6. He could hardly communicate in any fashion. Yet his selection of scripture was divinely prophetic.

I’ve reminded him about the scripture synchronicity about every other month since, and it usually seems like news. Lately, he appears to better understand what I’ve said, but he still cannot open the Bible to the same passage when asked.


This miracle filled me with unprecedented zeal, and I have enjoyed sharing it with many people over the past year. The two fundamental reactions are the incident is a sign, and the other that it is coincidence. It has been the likely and unlikely folk to interpret the incidence as a clear sign from the Lord. Einstein said, “Either everything is a miracle, or nothing is a miracle.”

Reactions from others have been amusing and sometimes contrary to my expectations. Soon after the occurrence, I attended a non-Swedenborgian Bible study. When I told the retired Christian radio jockey, he slammed his fist on the table and said, “That’s how He does it!” The faith and conviction was awesome. The various people to respond like this over the year have filled me with pride and excitement. However, the response to my story was relatively muted from several life-long Christians, including the leader of the Bible study. I assume their lack of enthusiasm is euphemism for unsaid skepticism. Maybe they think I am confused, or that I am misunderstanding something? Maybe they think I am telling a story to make myself sound special? Perhaps they are jealous. There are about 31,000 verses or sentences in the Bible. Even though people occasionally win lotteries at longer odds, I continue to find the circumstance quite shocking.

Like astral projecting, there is a certain spookiness in it. Several people I’ve told got goose bumps. My sermon referenced an out-of-body experience (OOBE) I had where I thought I woke up from an OOBE, walked across the room and turned around to face my bed. At that moment, my eyesight left me. Extreme fear escalated until I awoke with a painful jolt. I later interpreted this experience to be my mind’s inability really accept my spirit was separate and outside of the physical. Talking about astral projection, trying to do it, and sometimes consciously succeeding was insufficient. I still did not truly grasp it. Otherwise, when turning around I would have seen my physical lying in bed and simply acknowledged the OOBE wasn’t over yet. Likewise, when presented with a miracle, despite talking about the abundant evidence for faith when it occurred, I went blank. I didn’t really have the understanding I thought I did.


“Your ancestors refused to ask for my help,

though I had rescued them from Egypt

And lead them through a treacherous, barren desert,

Where no one lives or dares to travel.”

It could have been any sentence that Rev. Allison and I both picked, but the verse that simultaneously got our attention that weekend was a sentence about miracles. It is about how we respond to miracles. I unwittingly responded like the Word said I would.

I say that faith is not for lack of evidence, but our inability to accept the miracles that prove God’s existence. In the same breath, I could not swallow the gift and properly acknowledge it. Only in retrospect could I laugh at how my behavior was so predictable. Whether the ancestors forgot, disbelieved or failed to internalize the miracle of their rescue, I do not know. 

Ancestors refer to those rescued from Egypt, but it is also a call for me to not become another someone’s ancestor who experiences miracles, but still lacks faith to ask for help or respect the offering.

My subsequent mental debate on the incident is just what the scripture said I’d do – think myself into a state where I’ll cast doubt. No longer. This deeper meaning could be the greatest beauty of this memorable experience – the Word itself.

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