There Will Be Miracles

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The Lenten journey always reminds me of wandering through a wilderness. Today, I thought about the Exodus story that details a part of the journey of the Israelites. The story tells how the Israelite community traveled from place to place as the Lord commanded. When they camped at Rephidim, they found no water, so, of course, they complained to Moses.

An exasperated Moses cried out to the Lord, β€œWhat am I to do with these people? They are almost ready to stone me.”

Of course they were. It was so much easier to blame Moses than to take responsibility for their own decision to make this journey. I am well acquainted with the tendency to blame other people or other circumstances for my own mistakes and missteps. And like the Israelites, I have often been exasperated enough to cry out as they did: β€œIs the Lord among us or not?”

As always, God showed up to help Moses with this dilemma.

The Lord answered Moses, β€œGo out in front of the people. Take with you some of the elders of Israel and take in your hand the staff with which you struck the Nile, and go. I will stand there before you by the rock at Horeb. Strike the rock, and water will come out of it for the people to drink. (From Exodus 17)

Moses did just that and obeyed a God who provided the miracle. Water spewed out of Horeb’s rock and the people drank the miracle water until they thirsted no more. They would see God’s miracles again. They would witness the glory of the Lord again, and again.

But the journey continued, the wilderness was barren, the way was long. The people would complain again. They would sin, even as they witnessed life-changing events. They would be very human.

Just as we are. So take heart as you travel your Lenten journey. There will be dry, wilderness patches. But there will also be miracles. Keep your eyes open for them. You’ll be grateful that you did.

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Small Miracles

 

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Two years. Every day on dialysis. Confined to one room for over seven hours every night, tubes holding me hostage. Tubing and tape under my clothing twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week. Don’t get me wrong. I am deeply grateful for the lifesaving treatments. I am grateful for the medical team that cares for me and examines me carefully twice a month. I am grateful for my husband, the greatest caregiver, who hooks me up every night, keeps our equipment sterile, orders dialysis supplies and medication, and does so much more.

But I still get tired of the confinement of dialysis. I often wonder how long I will be on dialysis and if I’ll ever have a kidney transplant. I wonder how long the dialysis will be effective for me. I wonder about how to stay as healthy as possible. I think about the burden I am on my husband and try to find ways to pull my own weight.

I have many questions and few answers. Sometimes that reality brings me down. It is a constant effort to stay emotionally healthy.

Yet through it all, I trust the protection of God who brought me this far after a year of serious illness. Through a lot of prayer and a series of small miracles, I found my life again. It is true that I experience fear, especially when I wonder what my future holds. But God has been present for me, making sure that my fear does not consume me. I rest often on this scripture passage:

“Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” – Isaiah 41:10

Giving Thanks for the Memories

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Retirement can bring a plethora of memories, good memories and some not so good. Giving up a life of ministry leaves a gaping hole in life. Everything and everyone moves on. Most of us are not designated “pastor emeritus.” Yet, our ministry was so much a part of our lives that retirement causes a large, empty space. All those who called upon us to speak or do workshops at various functions have moved on to younger ministers.

On the wall are myriad certificates of education and experience. The shelves are filled with awards and memories of being honored. I look at them now and again and remember fondly all that happened in my past.

Then I move into the present, which fortunately, is mostly a place of contentment. Like many retired ministers, I do feel discarded and forgotten at times, as if my years of experience mean nothing. No one remembers the angst that accompanied my calling and ordination. No one recalls the rancor leveled at all Baptist women seeking ordination in those days. No one seems to remember that women had to work harder and longer than our male colleagues. The newspapers reported the upheaval surrounding our call to a ministry position. No one seems to remember the glorious community-wide celebration when a woman actually found a place of ministry.

But I remember. I remember it well. And although memories can be painful, my life is also filled with sweet memories. I have made peace with retirement and that is a good thing. My memories give me joy and comfort as I remember so many times of ministry, so many different people who graced my life. So I say thanks for the memories. The good far outweighed the bad.

Miracles!

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Miracles surround us every day, but sometimes we fail to notice them. As for me, I do believe in miracles that make life worth living. Sometimes I notice them only after they are over. But at other times, I find myself right smack dab in the middle of a working miracle. It’s magical. It enlarges my life and boosts my faith. It makes me look forward with joy to another day of life.

I often wonder how many people actually believe in miracles. I wonder if people are able to transcend a mundane life and instead experience a magical life of miracles, small and large. I have discovered, though, that miracles are not magic tricks. Miracles are a product of deep faith and living life on a soul level, embracing not only our physical world, but clinging tightly to our spiritual world.

My son recently told me a story about my one-year old grandson, Jalen, who was born with end stage kidney disease. As they consulted with the doctor recently, they learned that Jalen no longer needed dialysis and the many medications e was taking. The nurse looked at the doctor with surprise and asked, “Is this a miracle baby?” The doctor responded, “Yes!”

Why did they believe? Because they saw miracles. Things one person took as chance, a person of faith took as a sign. A loved one recovering from disease, a fortunate business deal, a chance meeting with a long lost friend. It wasn’t the grand doctrines or the sweeping ideals that seemed to make believers out of people. It was the simple magic in the world around them.

― Brandon Sanderson, The Hero of Ages

And that phrase describes miracles well: “simple magic in the world.” Don’t forget, the most important thing to know about miracles is that they happen.