Miracles

beer can
I had gotten used to hands in my hair over the three weeks I had been there, but I still had boundaries, and these kids were invading them. After all, we had all just finished eating wild chicken, some kind of slimy greens, and a bland white paste with our fingers, and I’m pretty sure napkins were unheard of in this tiny African village that was so remote that we had to park our van four miles away. So while I was flattered that they called me a goddess and were enthralled with the almost-black, straight hair that reached the narrow part of my waistline, I needed space. And a shower.

I walked near the lake, where a choir of children sang and danced. A mass of people waited to be baptized in the lake behind them–a beautiful sight in this village burdened by alcohol addiction and witchcraft. A figure by the water caught my eye, and I moved toward her. She was crouched by the water all alone–was something wrong? I watched her in my peripheral vision, pretending to look directly ahead at the sun setting over the dam. As I moved closer to her, I saw that she held something in her hand and extended it out toward the water. She was focused intently on it and did not notice me, so I watched. I didn’t have an interpreter nearby, so I could not speak. As I observed, I realized she was holding a stick and using it to fish something out of the water. As it came within her reach, she picked it up and dried it off with her skirt. A beer can. Was she another who was so plagued with addiction that she would scavenge for the last drops of alcohol in a floating can at a baptism service? I was relieved when she immediately emptied it, although confused about her intentions. If her purpose was to empty the water of what littered it, she would be here for a while and would need a longer stick.

She dried the can off with her dress as she walked back toward the gravelly soil. There again she crouched, picking up rocks and broken glass and holding it all in her skirt. I began to realize what was happening. One by one she dropped the rocks and glass into the can. She shook it, and then dropped in a few more. Once satisfied, she ran with the can back to the children’s choir and joined the dancing and singing crowd in front of them, her shaking can the only accompaniment.

In my journal that night, I called it a miracle. A symbol of destruction became an instrument of praise. Right before my eyes, a damaged and worthless vessel was emptied of the filth it contained and then filled up with something new. It had a purpose–to bring worship to a King. I have never forgotten that can and the symbol it was of my own life. This is sanctification. I had a habit of finding tangible ways to interpret the miracles of God in the context of my every day life. Every time I see a beer can I still think of sanctification. Every time I see a Baptism or see flowers blooming faithfully again on a spring run, I think of resurrection. Old habits die hard.

Resurrection. This is Easter morning, Resurrection Sunday. I adore my pastor, but I know he will greet me with the words “He is Risen” this morning. Will I be able to return the greeting with the traditional “He is Risen indeed”? I’ll try to avoid him. Today will be hard for me. My small family is alone on Easter for the second year in a row because of my work and study schedule. This makes my heart sink, because I have always loved the comfort of home and extended family and a big meal as we celebrate this day. I long for fellowship, not take-out food and an afternoon of laundry loads between textbook chapters. I’ve always loved my dad’s powerful prayer before Easter dinner, because his life is a beautiful example of something worthless becoming a vessel of praise–all because Someone who once was dead is now alive. Resurrection gives us hope for lost things, worthless things, dead things. If death could be conquered, can’t disease, addiction, and faithlessness be conquered too? Sanctification continues because the resurrection happened–at least that’s how my dad sees it. Even if I never return to faith, I will always be thankful that my father’s faith in a savior I don’t believe in saved his life.

So yes, my heart stirs on Easter Sunday. Does that mean anything? Only that I’m nostalgic. I never saw what happened to that can after the African Baptism service. I’ve never thought about it until this moment. But I can imagine that some time after it was an instrument of praise in a worship service, it once again became a piece of trash near the water, filled with junk. Once the emotion and excitement of the day were over, the can was just a can…and I am just a person. No one holds me, no one fills me, no one makes me greater than what I am–although emotionally-charged days like today find me longing for miracles again.

Image credit © Noimagination | Dreamstime.com – Beer Can Photo

Advertisements

6 thoughts on “Miracles

  1. You, have been hurt by someone or something in the church or by “a christian” . Or some situation has made you doubt God. But you long for the empty gap in your heart to be filled that Gap can only be filled with God. I know how you are filling I’ve been there. But nothing can change your life or the longing of your heart but God. Just like the can you remembered God was to take you and fill you with love, Grace and Mercy so you can bring music and joy in to the world. He know that you long to make a difference. Ask Him to reveal himself afresh to you to day.

    Like

    • Thanks for your sincere comment. Yes, I have been hurt by Christians–haven’t we all? I have also been hurt by Buddhists and Muslims and atheists and many others that have very little in common. The most obvious commonality among them is, of course, that they are human–and I am convinced that this common thread has much more to do with their hurtful actions than any other contributing factor. People hurt people. My best friend in the world (aside from my husband) hurt me in March, although I just found out about it this week. Did I walk away from the friendship? No–I told her I was hurt, and we talked through it. When she asked me to forgive her, I did. I have hurt her before, and If we remain friends for long enough, I will hurt her again. I hope she will show me the same forgiveness. I am realistic about the fact that humans are humans and that churches are organizations run by humans. Failure is inevitable, and that’s not why I threw the towel in. I gave up on faith because it was just SO human. I couldn’t find a God anywhere in it. It was flawed from its foundations, even the very scripture it was built upon. I didn’t leave the church because of hurt feelings or some “situation”; I left because it was all about feelings and testimonies of God’s presence in anecdotal situations–what I was looking for was evidence. Do I long for God? Yes, in the same sense that I long for a friendship that has ended or for a person who no longer lives–it’s normal to miss the feelings, but life goes on without them. And time heals. Regarding your concluding challenge to ask God to reveal himself–my sincere prayer for many months was the words of the song “Breath of the Spirit” by Rebecca Peck:

      “Breath of the Spirit, flow over me.
      Breath of the Spirit, come and set me free,
      Sweeping away my pride, till all that is left inside
      Is a heart that is pure, with strength to endure and the faith to believe.
      Spirit of the living God, fall fresh on me.”

      If there is a God, He has yet to answer this.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Keep asking!! He spoke to me when I wasn’t even calling. He will speak to you when the time is right. I don’t believe in feelings or emotions for the bases of my faith I made a commitment and a decision to live according to His word. Yes, written by man (many men) but inspired by one spirit that it why they all intertwine to reveal one thing God’s purpose for Christ. People hurt people that is true Christian or Hindu or an religion. Keep praying and searching! I know that things are not always the way we think that they should be and that emotions and feelings can not run are life other wise I could not of managed in an arranged marriage and living the last 13 years in India. The reason I responded last time and this time was because I saw you heart. I think you have a good kind heart but are not satisfied with what you have seen.

        Like

  2. If not by emotions/feelings, how do you experience God? I can read the Bible, but I do not have a sense that it was written for me (obviously, since I didn’t exist at the time it was written). Aside from scripture, God has never spoken to me or shown himself to me except through my emotions (like the stirring in my heart when I saw a beer can become an instrument in worship). I have learned not to trust those–people of all religions have emotional interactions with their respective gods, which means the vast majority of those religions (all but one) are made up of people who are being fooled into thinking that emotional experiences are actually experiences with a divine being. Why should I trust my experiences more than a Buddhist or a Muslim? I need something more objective, and I haven’t found it. Have you?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi CC. I didn’t “recognize” you on Pascal’s post. Had to come over and visit to remember that I love you blog. ;). I have been a Christian since late high school. But it wasn’t until about five years ago that I really really began to put Him first. Before that, I knew all the right answers, loved scripture, loved God’s design for life. But I was more concerned with being a good girl, than radical obedience (which can look utterly baffling to me and the world at times.). Now I see that He wants me HOLY- not happy, not comfortable, not even “looking good”, and not just abstaining from naughty things. He does want me to abstain from things that war against my flesh, but that is the ground zero of the Christian life. He wants me laying down my life for anyone who asks. He wants me serving everyone who has a need. Abstaining is just a launching pad for radical sacrifice and obedience for the sake of His people and those who have yet to be drawn to Him. Honestly, it wasn’t until five years ago that I really knew how to hear God’s voice. I could give advice from the Bible, but I didn’t really believe that God would speak and interact with me about specific issues. I wrote a little about how that happens here http://askthebigot.com/2013/01/02/listening-to-god-in-2013/ and here http://askthebigot.com/2013/04/21/open-door-or-still-small-voice/. But I am still learning, listening and growing in my confidence in His voice. What is more objective than a feeling? Good question. I think that my answer is exactly what you are saying that you have been honestly seeking: experiencing God in a way that you cannot manufacture on your own. For me that usually looks like being directed by and used by God after I choose to sacrifice in a way that goes completely against my nature. Unfortunately, that is relatively new to me- I should have been doing this throughout my Christian life. But better late than never, I suppose. ;).

      All the best to you friend. I look forward to watching your journey. Thank you for sharing yourself with us.

      Like

  3. Reblogged this on The Counterfeit Christian and commented:

    <

    div style=”display: block; font-style: italic; font-size: 1.6rem; margin: 1.25em 0; padding: 1.25em 1.25em 1.25em 3.75em;”>I’m re-blogging this old one as we approach Easter weekend, because I still long for miracles. In so many ways he does still live—in my memories, in my desire, and in my restless heart over the coming days.

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s