The other day I was sucked into another old movie on TCM. This one, a 1937 drama called "Tarnished Angel," features Alma Krueger as a night club hostess who can't find work because of her association with a shady character. She moves from town to town and no one will hire her because the police are always just behind her.
Finally, she finds a storefront church and stops into an event worship service because of the promise of hot coffee. She decides on a new career as a gospel evangelist. She does pretty well, even with the police still on her trail, and she also enters into a jewel theft scheme with that shady character from the nightclub, Dan.
At one point in the drama, they are going to stage a phony "healing" with a fake cripple. But the actor really breaks his leg and can't come. Someone else comes forward, a man who believes her words (even though she doesn't) and really gets healed.
This seems to be the turning point in the drama. After all, she has just witnessed a real miracle. But this isn't the real turning point. For at this point, she is also still planning to rob the woman who trusts her, with the help of Dan. The movie shows her having doubts, but she keeps saying that "we can't turn back now."
The real turning point is when our heroine decides "she can turn back now." She changes her direction, she decides not to rob the woman who trusts her and believes in her. I believe that this is as much because she loves the woman as it is because of the miracle of healing she witnessed.
We are often fascinated by the miracles of Jesus in the Bible: feeding thousands, making the blind see, making the deaf hear -- casting out demons. But those aren't the real miracles. The real miracles are the things that make us believe that we can change our direction, we can turn back, we can move ahead. The real miracles are that when Jesus said, "Follow me," some people actually got up and followed him. They didn't suddenly become perfect: but they were able to believe that there were other roads open to them than the ones they had always traveled on, other futures than the ones they had always imagined.
Whether or not "miracles" still happen, the future is open and lives do change. That's why this old movie fascinated me. Because I want to believe in those miracles most of all.