14 Apr Life is Full of Miracles
Someday I really should write a book detailing some of the remarkable experiences that happen to me as a pastor. Part of it, of course, is perspective. It has been said that we can either live as if nothing in life is a miracle or live as if everything is. I embrace the latter approach. The birth of a baby, a stunning sunset, the power of forgiveness, tulips in bloom, the loving support of a friend, dark chocolate, faithful parishioners who make my vocation possible—these are all gifts that I do not and cannot deserve. They, along with thousands of other details large and small, are miracles that grace my life, if I will simply pay attention and notice them as the gifts they are.
A couple of weeks ago two miracles arrived in a more dramatic way than most. It was Maundy Thursday and to that point, I’d been having a difficult Holy Week. Three close family members were seriously ill. I had broken out the week before with the shingles virus (and I was SO pleased at the prospect of having red splotches on my face and neck for Easter. NOT!) The virus had zapped all my energy, and I was dragging myself through the days at a time when my to-do list was longer than ever. As I said, it had been a difficult week.
On Maundy Thursday I had a number of errands to do to prepare for the worship services that weekend: pick-up a car load of Easter lilies and spring flowers and deposit them at the church, purchase and then assemble the goodies for the children’s worship bags, get the sanctuary ready for the Good Friday service. And, there was a piece of mail that needed a signature at the post office. I picked it up and threw it in the passenger seat of the car where it promptly got buried under bags and flowers. I forgot all about it.
Later, after the last load had been carried in from the car, the envelope reappeared. I opened it to find a two-line typewritten note that read: “As an admirer of your church and the work you are doing, I hope you will accept this anonymous donation. I know these funds will be put to excellent use. All the best in your endeavors.” It was signed, “A Christian Friend.” I opened the letter further to discover a $1000 postal money order made out to the church. That was a lovely surprise to be sure, but my initial delight turned to sheer astonishment when I picked up the money order only to find that there were nine more behind it–$10,000 in total. I was completely speechless.
I’ve heard stories of such gifts dropping like manna from heaven to other pastors and churches, but I don’t actually know anyone it’s ever happened to—and I certainly never expected it to happen to me or to my church. It evoked in me an overwhelming sense of gratitude—gratitude to God for laying it on someone’s heart to encourage us and support the ministry of this church with such generosity, and gratitude to the donor, whoever she or he may be. A serendipitous blessing had miraculously appeared, and all I could do was say “thank you” to God and pray for the donor (and start telling everyone I saw!)
As if that wasn’t enough excitement for one Holy Week, a second serendipitous blessing arrived on Easter Sunday morning. I had worked for several hours on Saturday making sure everything was ready but still arrived at the church early Sunday. Almost immediately I noticed something amiss. There was something out of place on one of the hall tables—a table I had cleaned off and straightened just the day before. I looked more closely and found a brochure with a “Hello, my name is” name tag slapped on the front. Instead of a name, however, this is what was written: “I’m homeless. I don’t have much to give but this is all the money I have to give for those in need.” And, there on the table was 65 cents.
Two anonymous, miraculous gifts in three days–$10,000 and 65 cents. I thought my heart and my head might explode from pure joy and awe and the privilege of seeing God’s kingdom at work. Friends, look around. Miracles abound! No, they are not always so obvious as to hit us over the head like a brick, but quiet miracles of generosity, faithfulness, compassion and kindness permeate our lives. It’s easy to get so absorbed and distracted by all the demands of life that we forget to notice and fail to be grateful for all the gifts. The truth is that we could all write a book full of stories of God’s grace and goodness to us. I encourage you to spend a moment today to savor a quiet miracle and say your thanks for it.
Yours for the Kingdom,