Friday, July 17, 2015

God is real

The following is an excerpt from John Lennox's book Miracles: Is Belief in the Supernatural Irrational:

Now, are there examples of God's intervention today and in my own life?

That's a very personal question, and there's always the danger in attempting to answer this of rationalization. What will convince one person will not convince another. I believe in the resurrection because I think we have got more than enough evidence at the objective, historical level. History's never completely objective, of course, but as contrasted with the evidence of my subjective experience.

You ask about my life. I have a wife. We've been married 43 years. I've got three children and I've got five grandchildren. We pray together. We discuss scripture together. I couldn't begin to enumerate to you the times when things have happened in life that you could attribute to coincidence, if you wish, but where my experience on the inside tells me that coincidence is totally inadequate. Would you like me to tell you about one of them?

I very rarely do this, but here goes.

As you know, I have been a lot to Russia. How did I come to go to Russia? Well, I'll tell you.

I was at a conference of mathematical cryptographers. You all depend on them when it comes to the security of your money in the bank.

The conference was in Belgium and after it was over the bus driver took a detour to the station with the result that we missed the train. So, there were 50 irritable mathematicians standing on the platform in Belgium. I was going to Cologne in Germany and it was late at night. I was a bit concerned. I had a heavy suitcase and in those days Cologne station wasn't the best place to be found after midnight.

When the train arrived, I found myself in a compartment with a German, a Belgian, and two Russians. I sat beside one of the Russians and I started to talk to him. He was rather surprised that I could speak a bit of his language.

"What do you do?"

He said, "I'm an ecologist."

"Oh," I said, "Ecologist? Do they have those in Russia?"

And he said, "Yes, and this is the first time I've been out in the west. I come from Lake Baikal."

So I said, "Can you openly talk about ecology in Russia?"

He said, "Well, you know, we can say a bit."

And then I said to him, "Are there other things that you can talk about openly that were taboo earlier?"

He said, "Like what?"

I said, "Like God, for example."

And he said, "Yes, we can talk about God."

In that moment, a thought rushed into my mind, "I've got to give this man a Bible. But this is crazy. I mean, where do you get a Bible from in the middle of the night on a train going through Belgium?"

Then I remembered. Three weeks before that, I'd been in Germany with a publisher friend. Sitting on his desk was a Russian Bible. He said, "Would you like to have it? I can't read it." I said, "I'd love it. Mine is pretty old and I'd like that." So, I put it in my suitcase. The question that now arose in the train was: was the Bible still there?

While I kept talking to the Russian man, I got up, put my hand into the suitcase and found the Bible. I took it out and I handed it to him saying, "That is for you". He went as white as a sheet. He couldn't speak and I thought he had taken ill.

I said, "What's wrong?"

He said, "How did you know?"

I said, "What do you mean, how did I know?"

He said, "How did you know that six weeks ago, the only Bible we've ever seen was stolen from our home in Siberia? This is our first visit to the West and in four hours' time we're taking the plane to Moscow. So, how did you know?"

I said, "Do you believe there's a God?"

He said, "I don't know, but," he said, "look in the corner. That's my wife. She believes."

And I turned - I'll never forget it - to see this young woman with her face glowing, the tears streaming down her face as she clutched the Bible, and she said, "Is that really for me? Are you really giving it to me?"

I said, "Of course." A few moments later the train stopped at their station and they were gone in the night.

The German student said to me, "Does that often happen to you?"

I said, "No, it doesn't. But you shouldn't think it strange."

She said, "Why not?"

"Well," I said, "Look. This person comes from a country where they've been systematically denied access to the Bible. If this really is the word of God, surely God can use me as a postman?"

"Well then," she said, "I better read it."

So she did - but that is another story.

When I arrived home I told my wife what had happened. She then did something she's never done in her life before or since. She said, "You will need to clear your schedule for at least two months."

I said, "Pardon?"

She said, "You're going to Russia."

I said, "Why?"

She said, "How would you go to Russia?"

"Well," I said, "it's a very complicated business. You've got to ring the Royal Society, fill in endless forms and so on."

She said, "Ring them."

"Well," I said, "perhaps next week."

"Right now."

Something told me she was right. I phoned and the official who replied said: "Dr Lennox, you want to go to Russia? When can you go? How long can you go for? You see we want the Russian mathematicians to visit our country now that the possibility is open. The problem is that our agreement is that if we want one of their scientists for a month we have to find a British scientist prepared to go to Russia for the same length of time and very few are prepared to go. Can you go for a month?"

I said, "My wife says two."

He said, "Done. No forms. You will get the money; you can leave tomorrow if you want."

When I got to Russia as a visitor to the Academy of Sciences I found to my astonishment that their main interest was in how could a person like me believe in God. I can't tell you what flowed from that, but I firmly believe it was an intervention God.

I expect such things to happen all the time because God is real.

If I'm not mistaken, the book excerpt was originally taken from the Q&A session of his Harvard Veritas talk "Miracles: Is Belief In The Supernatural Irrational?" (2012). It starts at the 1:08.12 mark (here).


  1. I see and hear things like this often in my travels. It's odd that we don't have accounts like this more often here in the States. I suspect that as anti-Christian sentiment increases here, we will see more of this.

    1. Thanks, Jim. :-) If you ever have the time or inclination to share your stories and experiences, I'm sure they'd be valuable and edifying for many including me.

      Also, your last sentence is tantalizing, in a good way! Or at least bittersweet way.

    2. It depends on one's focus as to whether it's good or bittersweet. If our goal is to be comfortable in this life, then an increase in "coincidental" activity, or what we would recognize as overt divine providence, would be more bittersweet. If our focus on being with the Lord in the Kingdom, then we would be jazzed first to recognize opposition as a certain validation of the message and second to see God himself working so obviously in the lives of his people.

      I have many accounts. A recent one, I've only heard about. We have teams that distribute copies of the Injeel among Muslims. I won't give details here. An account has come back to us of a family who had a copy of the Injeel in an area that ISIS had moved into. The family had been killed and the Injeel found by one of the members of ISIS. He read it and became a believer. So quickly transformed was his life that he tried to share the news with his comrades. As they killed him, he plead with them saying something to the effect, "I am a believer in Jesus and can no longer kill." God is sovereign over what is happening in the Middle East. As bad as it is over there, our Lord will call his people out and his name will be glorified.

    3. Thanks, Jim. Good stuff. :-)