BY NORMAN VINCENT PEALE
One of the most wonderful principles known to man is called the miracle principle. It has revolutionized the lives of many people who have learned its secret and how to put it into practice. Six words describe the principle: Expect a miracle-make miracles happen. If you keep your eyes open expectantly every day for great and wonderful things to happen, it is -astonishing that great and wonderful things will tend to happen to you. Always think of the best. Never think of the worst. And if the worst invades your consciousness, think of it in terms of how to make it the best. What you think habitually will tend to happen. The naturalist, John Burroughs, once said, “My own shall come
to me.” What we send out mentally and spiritually will return to us. We become what we are in our thoughts.
At a convention where I was speaking, a man came forward and started telling me all his troubles. “I am in a sea of trouble,” he said.
My next engagement required that I leave the auditorium quickly and therefore I had only a minute or two to say something to him. Why I said what I said I don’t know, but afterwards I thought it was probably inspiration. Quickly I commented, “Okay, I get the picture. Expect a
“What do you mean,” he asked in surprise, ” ‘expect a miracle’?”
“I don’t know,” I replied. “Guess you must figure it out for yourself.”
Later he told me that he went away from that place muttering to himself, “What did he mean by that crazy statement, ‘Expect a miracle’?” Then he began to realize that he had been expecting anything
but a miracle. Accordingly he was getting everything but miracles. As he started expecting miracles, lo and behold, miracles began to flood into his life.
By a miracle we do not mean some strange happening unknown to scientific procedure. Read the dictionary and you will find that a miracle is defined as some great and wonderful quality that can be
brought to pass.
The great people of the world are miracle makers. When I flew home from Europe recently, the president of the airline was aboard my plane and I had a very interesting talk with him. He’s an engineer and I asked him to define an engineer.
He replied, “Well, I’ll do that on this basis: The difficult we do immediately. Miracles take just a little longer!”
The miracle is a cast of mind, which is well described, I think, in a statement from the 62nd Psalm: “Wait thou only upon God; for my expectation is from him.” Expect great things from God and you will receive great things from God. This is the basic principle known as the miracle principle. And those who live on the miracle principle have miracles popping up in their lives constantly.
How then, can one go about expecting miracles and causing miracles to happen? The No. 1 thing is to have a tremendous faith, a deep faith, a faith that is so positively strong that it rises above doubt. Doubt is always getting in the way of faith. But if you train yourself to have faith in depth, it will release an astonishing power in your life to produce miracles. There is a certain type of person in this world known as the believer. He sweeps everything before him. He seems to take hold of life with a profound authority.
The question is, how deep is your faith? Get it deep and you can face any difficulty and conquer it.
Our magazine, Guideposts, every month contains thrilling stories. One of my favorites is about a tremendous personality, a black woman from Florida named Lucinda Sears. She end hen husband Charles and their three children lived near the shores of Lake Okeechobee. One hot, sultry day a hurricane swept up out of the Caribbean. It slashed into Miami with destructive force and proceeded up the peninsula, leaving death and destruction in its wake.
Lucinda Sears watched the wind as it whipped up the dust around her little house. She looked at the sky with appraising eyes. Then suddenly the wind increased in intensity, lifting the roof off her house like cardboard. Suddenly a nine-foot dam gave way and water swept up to the house. The family was in imminent peril of death.
Lucinda grabbed her daughter, not quite two years old, while Charles reached for their two sons, five and three years old, and they looked around for a place of refuge. All they could see in that instant
of the mounting waters was an old, gnarled, bent tree which had lived out many a storm. But the question was, would it live out this storm?
They ran to the tree, but in the slippery mud the five-year-old dropped from Charles’ arms and disappeared for a moment. Balancing the other boy in one arm, Charles finally pulled his son from the watery muck. They reached the tree and, carrying the children, Lucinda and Charles climbed into the high branches. The waters continued to mount until they were at Lucinda’s neck. She held her little girl, Effie, higher than her head to assure that she would be out of reach of the waters.
The wind was whistling, the rain beating down with great force upon them, the sky dark. Charles shouted through the storm, “Cindy, we’re all going to die! The end is not near?
She shouted back, “I tell you we are not going to die! The end is not near! God is with us, the God of miracles!”
“Cindy, it’ll be a miracle if we ever get through this.”
“Okay, Charles, expect a miracle-lets make miracles happen!”
They clung desperately to the swaying branches. The storm rose in intensity. Then Lucinda began to sing, sending her confident voice out against that hurricane:
“Jesus, lover of my soul,
Let me to Thy bosom fly,
While the nearer waters roll
While the tempest still is high!
Hide me, O my Savior, hide,
Till the storm of life is past;
Safe into the haven guide,
O receive my soul at last.
Other refuge have I none;
Hangs my helpless soul on Thee;
Leave, O leave me not alone,
Still support and comfort me.”
The song ended. Three distinct flashes of lightening pierced the sky. Lucinda, a-believer-in-depth, said; “Oh, thank You, Lord! You’re working a miracle!” She had no doubt. She believed. And I wonder,
sometimes, what the good God thinks in His heart when He sees a human being in dire trouble believing in a miracle. That must be a wondrous happening.
The wind died down. The rain ceased. There was a great calm. This little family clung to the branches all through the darkness of night. And when dawn came, the waters had receded so that they could climb down and wade to a place of safety. They were suffering from shock, but kind hands ministered to them. And Lucinda, eight days later, experienced another miracle-the miracle of birth–a healthy little girl! What a woman! What a person! What a child of God!
That is what a human being can become if he or she fights doubts and becomes a believer. Such persons expect miracles and make miracles happen.
So what is bothering you now? What is your big trouble; what is your great difficulty? You ask, “Is there any such thing as a miracle?” It could be that such a response occurs because your faith is not
right. Get your faith strengthened and you will see miracles happening. Indeed you will experience miracles.
There is another factor necessary in expecting miracles. You must get off the wrongness beam and on to the rightness beam. Often the reason everything goes wrong with people is simply because they are
wrong themselves. We cannot expect miracles or wonderful things to happen when we ourselves are wrong-when we are acting wrong, thinking wrong and when we are motivated by a wrong psychology.
There is one sure fact that requires emphasis and that is, wrongness can never produce rightness-it can only produce wrongness. Rightness produces rightness. It does not produce wrongness. So when
you become right within yourself, you will find yourself turning on miracles. They will begin to happen, one after another.
Not long ago I finished writing a book called You Can. If You Think You Can. It contains, among other things, the story of Louie, a friend of mine. I shall never forget Louie-he has gone on to heaven now. But there were times on earth when I really didn’t want to meet Louie. He was one of the most difficult cases I ever tried to handle. I would tell him what I thought he ought to do to correct his situation,
and he would go away leaving me with the impression we had made some progress in solving his problems. Then he would come back and say, “I tried and it didn’t work.”
Finally I said, “Louie, I’ve told you all I know. Maybe you don’t really work at the suggestions and so they do not produce results for you. Why don’t you see some of the other ministers on Fifth Avenue and see what they can do for you? Maybe one of them can help you.”
He returned about six weeks later and said, “I’ve seen them all, and none of them know any more than you do.”
“Well,” I said, “the situation is really worsening around here.” But Louie’s solution did come, and in a rather spectacular manner. One night I had to make a speech in Allentown, Pennsylvania. It was a drive of 200 miles and I planned to organize my speech while I drove, for I would have peace and quiet and isolation. But when I got to my car, who should be standing there but Louie. He asked, “Where are you going?”
“Allentown,” I said.
“I’ll go with you.”
“Oh, no, please….” But finally I relented. “Okay, Louie, I’ll tell you what we’ll do. You drive the car to Allentown and don’t talk or say anything, because I want to work on my speech Then on the way
back we’ll talk about you and why things are, as you say, always going wrong.”
Well, he kept his promise fairly well. I made my speech and we started back to New York. As we drove through New Jersey at about midnight, Louie said he was hungry. Since this reflected my own
feeling, I said, “Let’s stop and get a hamburger.” We sat at the counter. Louie was still talking and asking, “Why does everything Go wrong with me?”
As we were eating a hamburger and drinking coffee all of a sudden I had one of the most astounding experiences in my life. With no warning at all Louie brought his fist down on the counter, making the coffee leap out of the cup and all the silver rattle. He shouted so that everybody could hear, “I’ve got it! I’ve got it! I’ve got it!”
“Well, quiet down,” I said “What is it that you’ve got?”
“I’ve got to answer to myself,” he declared jubilantly. Everyone in the restaurant was looking around, but he couldn’t have cared less.
“I have discovered,” he said, “that the reason everything goes wrong with me is that I am wrong myself!” Well, I never knew a hamburger to have such an effect on a human being in my life!
We went outside and stood in the moonlight. Louie walked around waving his arms and talking. He said, “Isn’t it wonderful that in one flashing moment of self-realization you can see yourself! I see that
I’ve been my own worst enemy. I’ve been thinking wrong. I’ve been acting wrong. Therefore, everything has been going wrong. But now I see myself as a child of God. I see my possibilities. I’m going to get organized. Boy, ” he continued, “with the help of the Lord, isn’t life going to be great for me!” All the way back to New York, he inspired me by the lilting exultation of his spirit.
And miracles began happening in Louie’s life, one miracle after another. He would call me on the phone and say excitedly, “Norman, get a load of this; isn’t this terrific?”
Louie’s experience proved again that when a person really gets aboard spiritual power and moves away from his weak, defeated self, things-wonderful things-really begin to happen. After some years, Louie, at an early age, passed life to death. But I remember him as a radiant, tremendous, victorious spirit-a creator of miracles.
And that same wonderful thing can happen to anybody else who really will try for it. As a matter of fact, I really believe that a miracle is built into every human being. When Almighty God created you He built into you the miracle principle. The question is, have you encouraged this miracle principle to emerge in action, to make you the great person you have the potential to be?
One of the great facts about all of us is that a human being is far greater than he thinks he is. Recently I read an article about the American cow. It seems that a century ago, a cow that produced 600 pounds of milk a year was considered quite a cow. In 1972 there was an American cow named Hattie that actually produced 44,019 pounds of milk in one year-more than 70 times the national average of 100 years ago. What a cow-44,019 pounds of milk!
Another interesting statistic is that experts have developed a hen that can lay 365 eggs a year-one egg for every day-whereas wild birds lay only six eggs a year. Farmers are now experimenting with a
new lighting system to increase the hens’ “days” up to 400 or 500, so that hens will begin to lay 400 to 500 eggs a year. That is really something! A hen is God’s creature. A cow is God’s creature. But listen
to this: If this capacity to expand is built into a cow and into a hen, do you mean to tell me it isn’t built into you also? Not to lay an egg-I don’t say that-but to produce out of yourself wonderful things.
Almighty God has crowded miracles into you. Why not let them come forth, and live?
Well, every once in a while you can meet people who have done just that. In Rome I was invited by our American ambassador to come to his office for a visit. John Volpe had been governor of Massachusetts
and later secretary of transportation of the United States; he is now American ambassador to Italy. I sat with him in his beautiful office which is in a palace on the Via Veneto, surely one of the most
distinguished embassies of any nation in the world. This room in which I was visiting with Ambassador Volpe is one of the grandest rooms in all the world. And a dynamic, enthusiastic and very able man.
On a table I noticed the picture of two elderly people with a Bible in front of them. “Is that your mother and your father?” I asked.
“Yes,” he answered, “and this morning I went to Mass to give thanks on the twenty-first anniversary of my father’s death.” He told me that his father, as a young man, immigrated to the United States and became a plasterer’s helper. He used to write letters to his sweetheart back in a little town in Italy. She could neither read nor write, so the parish priest had to read the love letters to the girl. I suppose a priest or a minister can handle that all right!
Finally the girl came to the United States, married young Volpe and they had a family. The romance of it all is that 70 years after Mister Volpe went to America as a plasterer’s helper and took as his wife a girl who could neither read nor write, their son, onetime governor of an American state, onetime member of the cabinet of the president of the United States, returned to his father’s native land
and now sat in the exalted place of ambassador of his country. He speaks fluent Italian. The Italians love him.
How can a human story like that happen? Those two devout parents believed in the perfectibility of human nature. They believed that a child is a child of God. They taught their children that if they followed God they could be what they wanted to be.
Life is full of such miracles. The Bible is full of miracles. “Wait thou only upon God; for my expectation is from him.” Expect a miracle-make miracles happen by believing in God, by believing in the Lord Jesus Christ, by believing in your country and by believing in yourself. Always remember you are packed full of potential miracles put there by One who knows you better than anyone-the good God, the Creator who made you.
And God bless everyone.
THE ABOVE MATERIAL WAS PUBLISHED BY GUIDEPOSTS, CARMEL, NEW YORK, 1974, PAGES 3-20. THIS MATERIAL IS COPYIRGHTED AND MAY BE USED FOR STUDY & RESEARCH PURPOSES ONLY.