Imagine you're in a temple session, or a worship service if you're not familiar with the LDS temple. It's been a regular service and things have gone as they typically do. Not unusual, but a more rare occurrence nonetheless, is a woman in a wheelchair that day. She is quiet and does the best she can with the motions of the service, but she does require assistance. She has a sweet spirit about her and an easy smile. All is well.
Then, towards the end, someone interrupts the service by rising to speak. A man speaks to the woman in the wheelchair. He asks her if she thought that if Jesus were there He would heal her. She answers in the affirmative. Then with a motion of power, he calls upon the Son and commands her to rise. She doesn't. With encouragement from those in charge, he returns to his seat.
By this time the feeling in the room is that of tension. The normalcy has been completely disrupted. Eyes are looking at the floor. Faces are red and concerned. Heads are shaking. It's very, very quiet.
The service continues and finishes as normal, but everyone knows it's not normal. There is a buzz. There is unease. There's a quiet rush to get out.
My immediate reaction to this situation was, "What do we do? This is not in the handbook!" But the question the man asked was sweet, and I smiled. Then as the interruption went further I had a flood of simultaneous thoughts. One was on the same plane of what do we do, but that was quickly remedied by the person in charge. I had several more thoughts and questions flood my mind... some of which are very devil's advocatish, but still... I wondered... and now I divulge.
Jesus had perfect faith. Because He was perfect. Therefore He was able to do all sorts of miracles. But there are other stories of those with perfect faith (at least for a moment)...Enoch, Moses, the brother of Jared, Nephi, the woman who heals the ox in Legacy. They all were able to call upon the power of God and make a miracle happen. Oh to have that kind of faith.
In fact, one of the first thoughts that came to my mind in this situation was, "I wish I had your faith." This man clearly believed that his faith combined with the woman's would be able to heal her. Then I started thinking even more. What if the 30 other people in the room had the kind of faith he did. What if we had not been the doubting Thomas' of healing power? What miracle may we have seen? Who's to say what would have happened? Who's to say?
I thought of what it must have been like to be in the temple of Jesus' day. Things are going along seemingly normal and this the man gets up and starts declaring that the menorah isn't the light we should look to, but that He is the light of the world. That He is the bread of life and will be sacrificed like the sacrifices offered by the Levites. Is he a complete radical? The short answer is, yes. Jesus was a complete radical. He questioned the rulers of the Jewish people, he threw people out of the temple, he broke a bunch of "laws", he performed miracles. He was so outside the norm. Now, granted, the norm was way off base from what Moses had outlined several thousands of years earlier. But still... the Jewish people had their way of doing things and this Jesus guy was totally rocking the boat.
In relation to the situation I had just experienced, I wondered.... have we gotten too comfortable with the norm? Have we become a people that only believes in miracles if performed by people we know? Have we ceased to believe in miracles at all? (There's a warning about that in Mormon 9:19) What about our "normal" is even right anymore? I feel like Alma 5 can help inventory that question, but that's another discussion. But who's to say that 'kooky' is bad? Who's to say?
I thought of the story when Jesus passes by a man who is blind. His disciples ask why he is blind. Was it because he sinned, or because his parents sinned. John 9:3 gives us Jesus' answer... "Neither hath this man sinned, nor his parents: but that the works of God should be made manifest in him."
I thought about this story in relation to the woman in the wheelchair. I happen to know this woman, as she visits the temple frequently, and know that she has been wheelchair bound since her childhood. She has cerebral palsy and I'm sure her parents, other family, ward, and countless others have prayed for her recovery. I'm sure she has had many a priesthood blessing willing her body to function properly. But she's still wheelchair bound. I believe we all have the potential to have the works of God manifest in us, but who's to say what her manifestation is. Who's to say?
Jesus tended to work with strangers. Granted, I think they became fast friends, but I'd also be a fast friend with someone who cured my of my life illness. Anyway... he didn't work with just family and friends. He didn't just work with the Jewish elite. He served among the poor, the widowed, the children. Because of this, He was questioned by the Pharisees and Sadducees where He got the authority to do what He did. Because of their hard hearts, he actually refused to answer them, but instead gave them the parable of the two sons (Matthew 21). Basically a man tells his two sons to go work in his vineyard. One says no, but then eventually goes. The other says yes, but then doesn't go. Which one should receive the reward?
Someone said that this man didn't have the authority to do what he did. Perhaps. I asked them, "Would you have a different point of view if the it had been the Prophet or one of the Apostles?" They have the same Priesthood. They are both worthy to enter the temple. I don't think this man was trying to exercise unrighteous dominion. I also think that the Lord often works his miracles through the 'stranger.' So who's to say that this man wasn't moved by the Spirit to do what he did? Furthermore, who's to say that he doesn't have the power and authority? Who's to say?
Someone else said that it was neither the time or the place. Perhaps. Again, I thought of Jesus. He had received notice that his dear friend Lazarus was sick. Lazarus' sisters, Mary and Martha, had sent word to Jesus to come... quickly. Jesus wasn't that far away... maybe four or five miles from Bethany. But yet he stayed where he was. Two days later Jesus sets out for Bethany.When Jesus finally gets there, Lazarus had been dead for four days. In Martha's mind the time and place for a miracle had come and gone. She tells the Savior as much in verse 21 of John 11. Jesus then goes on to tell Martha that her brother will live again. I can just see her, in her despair, shaking her head and saying, I know all that. I know he will rise again in the resurrection. Then Jesus goes on to teach her the point of his whole ministry. That He is the resurrection and the life. Mary has basically the same interaction before taking Jesus to the tomb where Lazarus had been laid. Through His tears, Jesus tells them to move back the stone and calls forth Lazarus. There is much rejoicing. (I butchered this story. Go read John 11. You'll feel better)
Back to my 2013 story. Wouldn't one think that the time and place for miracles would be in the temple? Perhaps. Actually, just that day, not three hours earlier, the counselor of the temple presidency reminded us ordinance workers that there are often miracles that occur in the temple. Especially after a specific ordinance. Is it more than coincidental that this man rose after that specific ordinance? Perhaps. I really just don't know. I think miracles can happen all over the place, so who's to say that it wasn't the time or place? Who's to say?
The rest of the story: After the session, news traveled fast. Before the door to the room had even closed behind me, another temple worker stopped me and said, I heard you had some kooky business in there. I looked at her and said, "Some might call it that. But I have no judgment." The woman in the wheelchair did not express any embarrassment or other ill. She was her usually smiling self. I know the member of the temple presidency spoke to the man, but I have no idea what was said. The officiator said the man had apologized to him. I just hope that this man doesn't feel uncomfortable in the temple in the future.