Within the past few weeks I have heard of apparitions observed by the faithful. As I recall, one was the appearance of the face of Jesus on a wood door that was being readied for installation and the other was the appearance of the face of Jesus on the side of a rusting water heater sitting outside.  All things are possible with God; however, I do believe that such events should be viewed with caution.  If one goes to observe such a claim and sees nothing until another points out details, chances are that the event is not apt to be an occurrence of a miracle.  Even if it is seen, there is no immediate assurance that it is a true apparition from God.  What is its purpose?  What message does it bring?  In my opinion, God would not produce such an event unless its meaning and purpose were quite evident.  In fact, after hearing of these events, on February 6, 1999, I very clearly saw the face of Jesus in the grain of the wood of a door at Mount Carmel Center in Dallas.  Although disproportionate in size and somewhat distorted, I could also see the torso.  I did not accept this as an apparition but a chance arrangement of the grain in the wood that had previously gone unnoticed but provided me with a recollection of the Christ.
        There have been and there will be apparitions that are likely valid [e.g., Fatima (Portugal), Lourdes (France), Garabandal (Spain), Guadeloupe (Mexico), and Medjugorje (Bosnia-Herzegovina)] but these appearances came only to selected individuals who relayed the messages.  Why can we feel they are valid?  Because of the experiences of those who have been healed of lifelong maladies and experienced other spiritual blessings while on pilgrimage to those places; the extensive and time consuming investigation of Church officials; the thorough examination and testing by medical doctors and other experts in their fields.
        Does it really matter?  Yes and No.  Yes, because it acts as a catalyst to help people get a firmer grip on their faith.  It's similar to the Apostle Thomas who would not believe until he put his finger into the holes in the hands of Jesus.  No, because it is something that God can do at any time in any place and the true value can not be seen because it deals with Spirit.
by Richard [February 1999]