It's always great when a potentially sad story has a very happy outcome; sometimes it might even be called miraculous. This was the case this week with the rescue of 11 year-old, Nadia Bloom of Winter Springs, near Orlando, Florida. Her parents Jeff and Tanya Bloom, Metro Church group and rescuer, James King, called it a miracle.
The girl who is challenged with a mild case of autism, went walking in Florida's Lake Jesup forests, a dense alligator-filled swamp land not far from her house, and became lost for four days. According to her father, Jeff Bloom (not the actor by the same name) Nadia got off her bike to take some pictures in the woods and quickly lost her way. Local police had classified her disappearance an amber alert. Her dad's first words to Nadia were, "Just thank God when you get home, and just give him the praise for this. Thank him for this. You know, it's just amazing...Things don't always turn out this way. We are so blessed." (From WESH-TV)
Rescue teams searched for days on foot, by helicopter, and with search dogs, but James King, a volunteer and member of Nadia's church, began to pray while searching. On ABC's Good Morning America, King said, "I prayed and prayed, and God showed me the way. The hardest part of it was getting out of my own way; putting my own thoughts aside and listening to God." Appearing on NBC's Today Show, King confessed to Meredith Vieira that his wife, Diane King, gave him advice the night before joining the search, "James, when we lose something we pray in the spirit and we always find it."
The Orlando Sentinel reported her mother, Tanya Bloom, said at a press-conference, "I just wanted her back, and I'm glad God used him [King]."
I have to admit, when I first heard this story my heart skipped a beat with concern for the little girl. As a father, I've taken my kids to the Florida everglades, and it's truly dense and intimidating country. It would be terrible to have a child lost in those swamps. You have to have machete knives and waist-high boots to get through it. It's filled with mosquitoes, flies, gnats, snakes and alligators. Not a place to lose your way.
I also had another reaction: I was a bit skeptical hearing all of the "God" claims by King and the Blooms in various newspaper and television reports that came my way. King saying that God spoke to him, and in a very calm and even jovial tone, was a bit unnerving. Even though I have sometimes felt the presence of God, and have myself, thought I heard the word of the Lord God guiding me, it did feel a little "holy roller" farfetched, especially proclaiming it all over the media. I think there's a taboo against talking about hearing God talking to you. I even cringe as I write this piece.
I'm not alone: Inside Edition's blogger Megan Alexander also cried-out with skepticism, along with layers of media doubters and naysayers. She asked King how he felt about the barrage of insults coming his way:
"Oh it doesn't affect me at all. I'm glad to take a lie detector test," said King.
King says God led him to the little girl and that triggered even more criticism.
Joy Behar ridiculed him on (ABC's) The View, saying, "Who needs an Amber Alert now. You know you don't need an Amber Alert anymore. Why doesn't God tell every other person where to find all these other missing children?"
One blogger wrote, "This guy and his 'give glory to the lord' routine are sickening."
King said, "There are some people who you can do something right in front of. You can do a miracle in front of them and it doesn't matter. You are always going to have the nay-sayers."
We will never know if Nadia Bloom's rescue was a miracle, or just luck. We do know that it was the result of diligent effort, love and care by a lot of people who were worried. If a miracle, by definition, is something of wonder that cannot be explained (as in the Old French and Latin miraculum or "object of wonder"), then Nadia's rescue and survival is certainly miraculous. And truly wonderful.
Calling out "Hey Nadia," between prayers, King claimed he felt led by God through the forest and swamp waters. "Hey Nadia!" brought an "I'm over here!" from the young girl. King said to ABC's George Stephanopoulos (who seemed to believe him), "it was easy, God led me right to her." He didn't know why, it just happened. He couldn't explain it any other way other than he was "led by God." That, too, is the definition of a miracle, something not explained by natural laws.
Katherine Anne Porter once said, "Miracles are spontaneous, they cannot be summoned, but come of themselves." King, Jeff and Tanya Bloom, and the members of their church all believe Nadia is reunited and home because of direct divine intervention.
I agree. I'm not one to argue or question, particularly not of the works of God. I know that prayer has helped me out of some very troublesome, even potentially deadly straights, and proved to me that God exists. Sometimes you just cannot explain it any other way. I cringe when I write that, but I'm a believer in God's miracles.
Follow Norris J. Chumley, Ph.D. on Twitter: www.twitter.com/Jesusmysteries