On Oct. 12, Brian Atkinson, a faculty member in the Art Department, gave his devotional address, “Seeing Miracles,” in the BYU-Idaho Center.
He spoke about the importance of learning to recognize miracles in a world where many choose to doubt.
“We live in a day where the notion of divinely inspired events is routinely rejected by the unbelieving masses,” Atkinson said. “The thought seems to be that miracles are things that happened long ago, but they are no longer happening or even necessary today. Many argue that even Biblical miracles can be dismissed as such by asserting that recently acquired scientific knowledge provides us with better explanations for how these events occurred. God, it seems, is being taken out of the picture.”
Atkinson taught that God continues to be a God of miracles because He is unchanging and eternally loving. He invited those who have difficulty recognizing miracles to change their perspective by looking through a lens of faith.
“I believe that we live in a day of miracles,” Atkinson said. “I also believe that many of us likely have experienced miracles, but we may not have viewed them through the proper ‘lens.’ The best lens for viewing miracles is the clarifying lens of faith.”
Looking through a lens of faith requires effort and patience. Atkinson instructed students to exercise faith, be obedient and come to deeply know God. He warned students that if they do not put in the required effort and patience, they will be tempted to view the world through a blurred lens of skepticism.
“If we are unwilling to pay this price, Satan will gladly offer us an alternative: a lens of skepticism,” Atkinson said. “This lens is similar to a soft focus lens in that it allows us to see things, but not see things clearly. It is easily available but of no real worth. He offers it to us freely, hoping that once we begin using it, we’ll forget about it and become accustomed to viewing things slightly out of focus.”
Atkinson shared an experience in his own life that taught him the importance of faith over skepticism. He was getting ready to drop off his son at home when the car wouldn’t start. His first reaction was anger because they were in a hurry, but his son told him not to worry because he would pray for the car to start.
As he was about to leave the car, his wife asked him to try one more time. He didn’t think it would start, but as he turned the key one last time, the engine roared back to life.
“I took a moment (and) said a silent prayer of my own, one of thanks and forgiveness for my faithless skepticism,” Atkinson said. “Was that small event really a miracle? For me, it absolutely was. It was a miracle showing that God cares about even the little things in our lives. It wasn’t flashy or showy. No mountains moved. No one was healed. But it was a miracle. God was teaching me to see.”
Atkinson shared another experience in which he drove through U.S. Route 89 and made a mental checklist beforehand about the exact locations and objects he was going to photograph. He said the preplanned pictures were OK, but predictable.
Later, he drove across the same highway but challenged himself to stop and take a photograph every mile. This allowed him to see the world in a different way, find hidden beauty and become more observant. He explained that miracles work in a similar way; they cannot be preplanned.
“Too often, we decide what we think a miracle should be, and if it doesn’t match our predetermined notion, we ignore it,” Atkinson said. “We may have been the beneficiary of a miracle, but it may not have been the miracle we wanted. Or perhaps we received a miracle, but because it wasn’t something great or awe-inspiring, we overlooked it.”
Atkinson bore his testimony on the prevalence of miracles in the world today and encouraged students to diligently put in the required effort as they strive to look through a lens of faith and not a lens of skepticism.